One thing for which Jakyron Chapman is known at Enterprise is his contagious smile.
This past Saturday, Chapman had a big reason to smile as he captured the MHSAA Class 2A powerlifting individual state championship in the 148-pound weight class. After swatting 350 pounds and benching 225 pounds, Chapman’s 500-pound deadlift put him over the top, capping off his senior year at Enterprise in the best possible way.
“At first I didn’t believe it,” Chapman said. “It feels great. A lot of people are congratulating me and everything.”
Students and faculty at Enterprise aren’t just happy one of their own won the ultimate prize, they’re happy it happened to someone so deserving. Amy Dickerson, a substitute teacher at Enterprise and Chapman’s neighbor from down the street, has a son, Bubba, who is a special-needs student and is friends with Chapman’s younger brother, Jalyn, who is also a special-needs student. She described Chapman as not just a friendly student but a good brother and friend to her son.
“He’s amazing,” Dickerson said. “He doesn’t see their disabilities; he treats them like any other child. I about cried when I found out he won at state. It’s just personal to him, and he’s like family.”
If it’s not his friendliness that stands out, it’s his dedication. Enterprise powerlifting coach Wes Roy said seniors who play football sometimes skip out on powerlifting due to their high school football careers being over, but Chapman was determined to end his final semester as a state champion after the COVID-19 pandemic robbed him of an opportunity as an 11th grader.
“He’s naturally gifted, obviously, but he’s very, very, very self-motivated, and he really loves to lift weights,” Roy said. “I guess the best example of that was that he won the state championship Saturday, and he was back in here Monday lifting weights. If that doesn’t say enough right there, I don’t know what will.”
The love for weightlifting goes back to when Chapman was 11 and living in the Western Garden Apartments in Meridian. A neighbor of his had some weights, which piqued Chapman’s interest.
“The man said I could lift them, so I started lifting, and I just never stopped,” Chapman recalled.
After being a manager for the powerlifting team his freshman year at Enterprise, Chapman began competing as a sophomore and was on a good trajectory his junior season before spring sports were halted and eventually canceled last year.
“I was feeling good because I got first place at regionals,” Chapman explained. “When I found out they had canceled the season, I was… man, it was depressing, but I kept lifting at my house because I wanted to be a state champion.”
He struggled a little at first this spring to get back to where he was a year ago, but by the time he got to state Chapman was as strong as ever. At the state meet in Jackson this past weekend, he went in nervous, but the nerves dissipated after he got done squatting. Since he was the last person in his weight class to lift, Chapman knew he just had to beat the 445-pound deadlift of his closest competitor. His key was trusting in his ability and mentally envisioning himself winning before lifting.
“If you set it in your mind that you’re going to win, you will, and if you set it in your mind you won’t win, you won’t,” Chapman said. “I tried to tell my teammate that you have to believe in yourself in your mind, and you got it.”
Seeing Chapman win the championship was a proud moment for Roy, who gave his athlete all the credit.
“It’s very gratifying for him because he deserved it,” Roy said. “I’m just glad I got to help him along the way a little bit.”
True to his character, Chapman was still lifting on Monday, and he said he did that in hopes of inspiring the returning football players to stay on top of their spring conditioning.
“I just wanted the team to get stronger and take it to the next level in football,” Chapman said.
As she gets set to watch Chapman graduate this month, Dickerson said she couldn’t be happier that Chapman finishing his high school career by winning a title, and she suspects everyone else at the school feels the same.
“Everyone loves Jakyron,” Dickerson said. “He’s alway happy, and I think that smile is contagious.”