Evans High School's Chris Cozart, Taylar Stallings and Robert Paist made a show of force at the Region 4 weightlifting championships, which were held earlier this month in Jefferson, Ga.
Cozart placed first at region in the 186-to-200-pound weight class. He easily bested the competition with three impressive lifts - he posted 255 in the power clean, 325 in the bench press and 430 in the squat, for an overall total of 1,010 pounds.
Though he takes weight training very seriously and works out everyday, the heavy lifting is a labor of love for the senior. "I have a blast in the weight room," Cozart said. "It's just fun for me."
Stallings is a standout track athlete at Evans, but the senior also has become recognized for her physical strength.
All the girls competing at the region weightlifting championships were placed in one weight category, but Stallings was in a class of her own. No girl came close to matching her total of 720 pounds. Stallings had a power clean of 185, benched 180 and had an eye-popping squat of 355 pounds.
Evans weight lifters Robert Paist (from left). Taylar Stallings and Chris Cozart.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Weightlifting is great because it helps tremendously with track and field," Stallings said. "Working out with weights improves my strength, my speed and my overall conditioning."
Paist also trains to gain physical benefits. He suffered a neck injury during the football season, and a regular weight regimen is preparing him to return to the gridiron as a senior next fall.
In the meantime, the hard work paid early dividends.
Paist placed second at region in the 175-pound division. He wanted to compete in a lower weight class, but was unable to shave a few pounds off his frame, and was stuck in the higher division.
The junior made the most of it, with a bench press of 285, a power clean of 245, and a squat of 365. His 895-pound total didn't take top region honors, but it did earn him a spot in the Georgia High School Association weight-lifting championships this weekend in Macon.
"I expect the other guys at state will be fairly strong," Paist said. "Hopefully I can beat the guy that beat me at region. If I work hard enough I should be able to do it."
Cozart will be making his second-straight trip to state, and he expects to improve on last year's fourth-place finish.
"There will be tough competition at state, so I've got to go all out," Cozart said. "I'm shooting for No. 1, but you definitely cannot get cocky. I just try to keep my nerves low."
The state meet does not include a division for girls, so Stallings can't prove if she is the strongest high-school girl in Georgia. She is satisfied with claiming back-to-back region crowns, but wishes she had the opportunity to match muscles against her prep peers in Macon.
"I don't know if I am the strongest, but I'd love to find out," Stallings said.
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