Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

March 12, 2014

Powerlifting: Mighty Asy'Na — Mildred's Jackson hopes to win powerlifting state title

MILDRED — She is used to the look. You know, that look — the one people give her when Asy’Na Jackson tells them she’s a powerlifter.

Their faces kind of tilt a little. Their eyes blink and they don’t say anything right away, and then finally they say, “Oooh,” and then it hits them.

It’s that look.

“People are surprised,’’ said Jackson, a senior at Mildred. “They just don’t expect it. They assume I play volleyball or basketball or something like that, and when I tell them I’m a powerlifter they always have that look on their face and always say, ‘oh.’ They just have that facial expression, like a stoned face.’’

Jackson’s not just a powerlifter, but one of the best in Texas and she’s hoping to bring home a state title on Friday when she competes in the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association (THSWPA) state meet in Corpus Christi.

But that stop-traffic look she gets from people is not because she is a powerlifter — well, at least not all of it. It’s because when you hear the word powerlifter, you think Jackson is some Incredible Hulktress. But she’s a 5-foot-2 dynamo, a mini-Mighty Mouse who embraced the sport when she was a freshman and simply defied any critic or other obstacle that might get in her way.

At 5-2 and a 149 pounds, Jackson broke her own record in the Region 3 meet last week when she cleared 365 pounds in the deadlift. She set the record as a junior when she cleared 360. Unlike track athletes who keep raising the bar in events such as the high jump and pole vault after they have won the event so they can attempt to set new records, in powerlifting you get one five-weight addition when you tie the record. No one knows just how much weight Jackson might lift at the state meet.

That’s one of the best things about Jackson — she always pushes herself.

“I don’t know (what the ceiling is),’’ Jackson said. “Once I get there and clear a weight, I try to get more. Eventually, I know I will stop but before I get there I will keep pushing myself. I always know there’s somebody working harder, so I work as hard as I can to be the best I can be.’’

Her work ethic is legendary around Mildred.

“She’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached,’’ Mildred powerlifting Coach Vaughn Zwick said this week. “She works harder than any of the kids I have in the program. She’s here every time we have a workout. She’s the first one here and the last to leave, and she comes in on her own a lot.’’

It was almost an accident that Jackson, who weighs 149 and competes in the 165-pound weight class, found a home in powerlifting.

She was a freshman and she liked to lift weights to stay in shape, and some of the powerlifters saw her in the weight room in the fieldhouse at Mildred.

“Some of the seniors approached me about being a powerlifter,’’ said Jackson, who had never thought about competing. “I walked in here ( the weight  room) and they asked me about being a powerlifter. I was new to Mildred and didn’t know anybody and thought it would be a good way to meet friends and also to lose weight. I always want to be active in something, so I thought I would try it.’’

Then her natural pride and competitiveness took over.

“I would like to know my full potential in everything I do,’’ Jackson said. “I wasn’t just put here to be here. I always knew I had a point to be in whatever I was in. If something is shown to me, I attack it as best I can. I always push myself to be the best.’’

It’s that very attitude that has carried her through powerlifting.

She qualified for the state meet as sophomore but scratched during the squat event. There are three lifting events — squat, deadlift and bench press — and they total the weight of the three lifts to determine the winner.

As a junior, Jackson finished fourth at state and wants to go back and win it all on Friday.

“It’s really important to me because I know all the work I have put into it. Even if I place, I’ll be disappointed because of all the work I’ve done.’’

She goes into Friday’s state meet against girls from Class 1A and Class 2A schools with one thought, one goal.

She wants to pick up the state title and lift it high above her head in triumph.

Jackson qualified by winning the region meet, where her numbers were more than impressive. She benched 155 pounds, she cleared 335 pounds in the squat and broke her own record in the deadlift to total 840 pounds.

As impressive as that total is, it probably won’t be enough to win the state title.

“It’s going to take a lot to win state,’’ Zwick said. “There are a couple of girls lifting over 900.’’

Still, Jackson and Zwick think she can win it.

“She hasn’t reached her limit,’’ Zwick said. “We are going to let it all out Friday and see.’’

Jackson said she never thinks about the weight and her mental approach is one of the many reasons she is so successful.

“Her dad always tells her when she is lifting at a meet to never think about how much weight there is on the bar,’’ Zwick said. “He tells her to just look at the bar and shut everything out. She can do that. She is so mentally tough. When it comes to being mentally tough, she’s one of the toughest I’ve seen.’’

That’s what Jackson does.

But that’s not to say she doesn’t love the sport. She doesn’t block that out — in fact, it drives here.

It’s dangerous and it’s painful, and most of the work is lonely and requires incredible discipline and patience as much as drive and the heart to stay focused and continue to improve. But Jackson says there’s something else, too.

“It’s fun,’’ she said. “At first I just wanted to do it to make friends and get stronger and lose weight and have something to do. Then my sophomore year I saw the numbers I was putting up and when I saw the numbers I’m open to new things and decided to go after it and go above and beyond.

“I know it’s dangerous and scary, but I find it to be fun. It’s a rush. I enjoy rushes. To go up there and lift so much weight and get it ... It’s exciting.’’

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