WACO — Cleburne’s Lexi Harris finished her brilliant high school powerlifting career with a statement as she claimed her third state powerlifting championship Friday in Waco, cementing her legacy as one of the nation’s most accomplished powerlifters of all time.
Harris squatted a state record 600 pounds, bench pressed a state record 435 pounds and deadlifted a state record-tying 485 pounds for a state record total of 1,520 pounds to win the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association Class 5A state meet in the super heavyweight class.
“This state title means the most to me,” said Harris, who was overcome with emotion as the meet came to a close. “I came in expecting a lot of myself and I definitely put myself to the test, that’s for sure — attempting squats and benches I had never touched in a meet before. It was an ecstatic feeling.”
Cleburne Coach Jason Payne said Harris’ third state championship certainly places her among the greatest high school powerlifters in the nation.
“I think she cemented her legacy,” Payne said. “She’s set so many records. She’s up there with so many top lifters across the nation. It went viral when she benched 405 and at state she went 435. I can imagine social media will be blowing up with her in such a positive way after today.
“It’s a great day because more importantly Lexi got so many records that will be in her name and they’ll be hard for anyone to beat. She put Cleburne on that map for holding all these records. It’s a great day for her and for Cleburne High School.”
Cleburne's Lexi Harris deadlifts 485 pounds (tied state record) to clinch her 3rd state championship. 3 new state records in all today. pic.twitter.com/ukqPavY0G9— Times-Review Sports (@CTRsports) March 17, 2017
Harris, who also excels in non-high school affiliated national and global powerlifting competitions, said she’s proud all of her hard work and dedication has paid off by claiming her third championship for Cleburne. She said finishing second as a sophomore drove her to never settle.
“Finishing with three state titles says a lot about my dedication and hard work,” Harris said. “Losing my sophomore year, after previously winning as a freshman, it took a lot of mental toughness to come back from that. It’s something I pushed myself through. I can’t lie, there wasn’t a night I didn’t cry myself to sleep after March 15, 2015 because I let myself down. I didn’t work hard enough to be where I should’ve been that year. I knew from then on out that it was always a go big or go home situation.”
Payne said what makes Harris a world-class athlete isn’t just her strength, but also many more qualities and characteristics.
“Her dedication is just unbelievable,” Payne said. “You never have to question her work ethic. She affects everyone around her in such a positive way that it’s a great influence to anyone whether it be in the weight room or the school. She’s got such a humble attitude. She’s a great person to be around.”
At regionals, Harris shattered the regional record book with every lift. She squatted 590 pounds, bench pressed 405 pounds and deadlifted 485 pounds for a total of 1,480 pounds.
At the state meet on Friday, it was never in doubt Harris would claim the state title. She held a 110-pound lead after the squat. By the time the bench press was all wrapped up, she held a 305-pound advantage with just the deadlift remaining. Harris’ margin of victory over second place was 425 pounds. To no one’s surprise, Harris also received awards for top bench, top squat and most outstanding lifter, in addition to winning a scholarship.
Prior to the state meet, Harris set goals for herself for each lift as well as a total goal of 1,500 pounds. She reached or surpassed every mark.
“It’s honestly one of the most satisfying things in the world,” Harris said. “As a 17-year-old senior in high school, I never knew that being as strong as I am would be possible. To look back at where I was my freshman year to now, it’s a huge deal. God has granted me a talent! It’s huge and I can’t thank God enough.”
Throughout her career, and even at the state meet Friday morning and afternoon, Harris had her supporters cheering her on, something that she said is always appreciated and never goes unnoticed.
“Having that support is amazing,” she said. “I’ve got people from not just Texas but across the world that I’ve never met that are supporting me and constantly checking up on me. It’s huge to have that because you realize how lucky and blessed you are with not just life itself but with those around you. I can’t thank everyone enough. Even though I can’t individually thank everyone, I want everyone to know that I’m thankful regardless if I don’t get to respond to a call, text or direct message.
“I want to give a shoutout to my dad for getting me where I’m at because without his knowledge, hard work and countless hours of working with me, I wouldn’t be half of the young woman I am today. I can’t thank him or my mom enough for everything. Also thank you to my sister [Bree Gossett] for continuously supporting even after graduating. I wouldn’t trade anything for the two years we had together. Coach Payne and Coach [Josh] Reed for the continuos support, long hours and countless amounts of laughter to keep me going. And last but not least, my best friends Mac Ledwig, Maygan Britten and Braden Walthall, as well as Mrs. Allyson House. The moral support means a lot.”
After a dominant high school powerlifting career, Harris will open the next chapter at Sam Houston State University, where Payne said he expects Harris to continue progressing.
“I think she’s going to do really good at Sam Houston,” Payne said. “I hope that she continues to get better and stronger. I really hope she aspires to pursue the Olympic lifts and learn those. Any way that I can help her, I will. But more importantly getting her with someone that knows those techniques will be crucial because she has the drive to do that.”
In case you were wondering, the next Summer Olympics are in 2020 in Tokyo. Don’t count Harris out.