CHARLESTON -- The 2008 Eastern Missouri High School Benchpress Championships were held in St. Louis Feb. 9, with two Charleston students taking home honors.
In the 123 pound weight class, James Naile, a freshman at Charleston High School, took fourth place with a final lift of 110 pounds, while Jamie Barber, a junior at Charleston High School won the State Championship in the 132 pound division. Barber's final lift was at 175 pound.
"I just tried to guide them," said head coach Delbert Marriott. "James could've ended up with a third place finish and a plaque. Instead he wanted to know that he went for it all, and he did."
Marriott said that Naile ended up with a fourth place finish, because his lifter went for a higher weight on a gutsy call.
"We weren't expecting to go up there (and win)," said Naile. "We wanted to be in the top five and we were going to be extremely happy."
Marriott said that Barber and Naile both pushed themselves to the max shooting for their best.
"Jamie was in a similar situation (as Naile)," said Marriott. "He wanted the State Championship. I left it up to him if he wanted to play it safe and go for second, or roll the dice and go for it all."
"Jamie never hesitated," he added. "He said he wanted the State Championship."
Marriott said that the crowd was getting loud as the moment was coming for a championship attempt.
"Jamie psyched himself up to some music and with pure determination he dead-pressed 175 pounds," said Marriott.
Barber was happy with his performance in the contest, giving credit to Marriott for teaching them about the technique of lifting well.
"I thought I did so good, because it wasn't all about how strong you are," said Barber. "It's about technique and strategy. That's how I became a champion, and how Naile took fourth, because we used technique and strategy."
The teammates said that it took nearly three hours until the awards presentation, when the results turned official announcing Barber as the State Champion.
"The crowd erupted and I about fell out of my seat," said Marriott.
"I couldn't have been more proud of these two boys."
Marriott said that originally there were to be 11 athletes heading to the competition, and that they would have had a legitimate shot at the team championship.
"The day before the competition only Naile and Barber were still on the list," said Marriott. "I left the decision up to them to compete. I would say that they accomplished quite a bit for their very first contest."
Marriott said that he feels like too often times coaches tend to get caught up in coaching favorable athletes, and that he feels his job is to teach all of his kids how to become athletes.
"I was proud to go to the meet with these two athletes," he said. "They represented their high school as much as any other sport has in the school. Hopefully this will change the outlook from the community and realize we need to support these kids in the sports they choose to compete in."
The lifters were divided into 11 weight classes, and each lifter selected an easy opener for their first lift. The order started over for round two, and after three lifts, awards were presented based on the highest successful lift.
Marriott has participated in triathlons, as well as duathlons, and has coached Texas A & M runner Kevin McNabb, who was the National Duathlon Champion of the year. He is a former State Champion in cycling and triathlon.