MHS Graduate Coaches Bearcats to State Championship

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Coach Whit Overton, a 2004 Mansfield High School graduate, shows the state championship trophies his Booneville weightlifting team won recently at Alma.

It was always on his mind to be a state champion. A solid high school career at Mansfield High School brought great memories but never a state title. So, Whit Overton went into coaching hungry for that elusive state championship. On Saturday, April 21 the dream became reality.

Overton, a 2004 MHS graduate, took his Booneville Bearcats to Alma for the 27th Annual Arkansas High School Weightlifting Championship. When the clank of heavy iron settled, it was Booneville taking the class 4A state title along with the overall state championship as well.

“This is a big deal,” Overton said with an enthusiastic grin. “These guys have been working hard. I’m so proud of them. It’s great for these guys. It’s also the first time Booneville won the overall, so we’re excited about that too.”

The Bearcats won the class 4A title by lifting a team combined 5,140 pounds. That number was the sum of 10 different weight classifications. 

Bearcat Austin Foster from the 132 pound division lifted an astounding 460 pounds for an individual victory. Teammate Landen Beckett in the 123 class lifted 360 pounds for a silver medal in his group. The other eight competitors excelled as well giving the coach his first state trophy.

“We had a couple of guys set power clean bests and bench press bests,” explained Overton. “All 10 of our guys made weight, so we didn’t have to worry about that. They worked so hard, it’s crazy.”

“I knew we’d be close,” said the coach as he reflected on a feeling the overall championship was within their grasp before the meet even started. “I didn’t want to tell them until we got here and got started. I used the possibility as a little extra motivation.”

Overton began his coaching career at West Fork. A brief stop in his hometown Mansfield led to a stint in Lavaca before he answered a call to join Booneville this summer. 

At Booneville, the former Tiger is responsible for special teams with defensive duties for the football squads. He coaches junior boys track, and is the offseason and weight room coordinator.

It’s in the weight room that Overton implemented a version of the Bigger, Faster, Stronger Program. Keeping up with computerized weight sheets and overseeing the progress of it’s athletes allowed the first year Bearcat the opportunity to build his 10 man team. 

The hunt for Whit Overton’s first state championship has ended. The Mansfield alum doesn’t have to dream about winning state titles anymore. He will soon have a state championship ring on his finger reminding him that dreams really do come true.

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