High School Weightlifter Wins Regional Competition with a Clean and Jerk of 290 Pounds
by James Coulter
A high school weight lifter from Frostproof pushed himself to his limits by bench pressing 10 pounds shy of 300 pounds, allowing him to win first place at a regional weightlifting competition over the weekend.
Harper Henson, a sophomore from Frostproof High School, needed to clean and jerk 290 pounds to win first place at the 238-pound platform, during the final stage of the regional weightlifting meet in Islamorada on Saturday.
The weightlifter who competed before him cleaned and jerked 260 pounds. Harper’s own personal record going into Saturday was 265 pounds. He successfully completed his second lift of 275 pounds.
While some other athletes would have happily walked away after such an accomplishment, Harper decided to beat his competitor and his own personal record. During his third lift, he successfully cleaned and jerked 290 pounds, 30 pounds more than his competitor, allowing him to win first place at the competition.
Harper was one of six weightlifters from Frostproof High School who attended the meet at the regional weightlifting meet at Coral Shores High School in Islamorada on Saturday. His team placed third in the overall competition. Two other lifers placed second, and another placed fourth.
“Harper Henson is the hardest working person to come through this program in a generation,” said Rod McDowell, head football coach at Frostproof High. “He pushes himself every day. He has a great attitude. He has good grades. He is respectful. He is an overall good example for everyone else and how they should act and how hard they should work.”
This is the first year McDowell is serving as the head football coach at Frostproof High. His position also requires him to manage the weight room, and in turn manage the school weightlifting team.
McDowell oversees the team’s training regimen, which involves very strenuous three to four times a week. Many of the football players also serve as weightlifting team members, he said.
“The idea is that they will have a reward at the end, which is what happens when you work hard,” Coach McDowell said. “You get out of it what you put into it.”
16-year-old Harper has been participating in football and weightlifting for several years. He loves weightlifting, as it helps him become stronger and better in other sports. He especially loves being able to inspire his other team members as a leader.
He owes his recent success to God and his family. His family especially have inspired him to do his best. Such determination allowed him to excel in his competitions, and he hopes to one day become a state champion.
“My family worked way too hard for me, and I am really trying to make them proud because they are amazing,” he said. “they work hard and show me that you can get a lot of things done when you put your heart into it. When you have the will and willpower to get things done, you will get it done.”
Harper has especially proven himself to be a model athlete on his team. The sophomore goes above and beyond to test his limits and push his boundaries. Such tenacity allowed him to win his illustrious title at the recent weightlifting meet.
Harper’s win was especially motivating. A lot of athletes would have settled for second place. Yet Harper decided to outperform himself and his competitor in an effort to do better than his best. And the young man succeeded, McDowell said.
“It is his hard work and willingness to take a risk and try to go for the win when he could have settled for second place,” he said. “He went above and beyond his personal limit…It shows the example of how, if you work hard, and you have that will, and you want to win, that you can come out on top even when faced with big obstacles.”