Students lift to success

Student weightlifters put their skills to the test in front their peers and trainers in the Third Annual John Cotton Bench Press Competition in the Florida A&M University Recreational Center.

In the school-wide competition, 20 young men and women competed in six weight classes. Competition founder, investigator John Cotton, looked on from the sidelines and stated how impressed he was with the turnout.

First place competitors in the men’s division included 5th year senior Brian Walton in the 150 pound and under weight class, junior Mondrell Lathan in the 151-165 pound weight class, junior Tony Mendez in the 166-179 pound weight class, senior Charles Daniels in the 180-194 pound weight class, and senior James Vaughn in the 195 and over weight class.

“I feel good,” Daniels said.  “I knew I was going to win but I can always improve and do better.”

The women all competed in the 125 and over weight class.  Taking first place was grad student and first-time competitor Chika Ofuani with a successful lift of 125 pounds.  Ofuani was also the pound-for-pound women’s champion, pressing 84 percent of her body weight.

“It was my first competition and I was pretty nervous,” Ofuani said.  “I just tried my best.  I only trained for maybe about…24 hours.  I surprised myself.”

The women’s event saw controversy when senior Alesha Wells racked her 135-pound bar on her final press before the judge deemed her press clean.  Wells successfully pressed her weight, held it, and put the weight on the rack a split second before the judge made the call.

The mistake turned what would have been a first place performance into a third place effort.

“[The judge] said I re-racked the weight too soon,” Wells said.  “I mean, what do you want me to hold it up there for about five to ten seconds?  I just re-racked it.”

Lathan who is known by his friends as the “freak of nature” was the pound-for-pound men’s champion with a successful press of 345 pounds, 215 percent of his actual body weight. He was also the competitions smallest participant at 5-feet-6-inches and 160 pounds. 

“I’m kind of disappointed that I missed 355,” Lathan said. “I’ve done it before but this time I just tweaked my back a little.”

Cotton stayed throughout the competition to provide encouragement and watch the event he helped to build.

“All the guys and girls were excellent,” Cotton said.  “They were all great.”

The John Cotton competition was only one of many intramural events that take place in the Recreational Center.  Both Recreational Center director Bob Carroll and Intramural and Club Sports Specialist Tony Brewington encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the center.