MOULTRIE — When Colquitt County hired Tony Long to become the football team’s defensive line coach and strength and conditioning coordinator, the school also got something else.

The South Georgia Strongman Championships, which will be held at the high school on Saturday.

Some 600 athletes from 15 schools are expected to take part in the competition, which will begin at 9 a.m. and should be completed by noon.

Long has been a director of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s Georgia Strongman competition and is in charge of the 39-county, 44-school Area 8.

The last four years, while he coached at Brooks County High, the area competition was held in Quitman.

But when he accepted the job on Tim Cokely’s football staff in January, it assured that the competition would move to Moultrie.

So while teaching weightlifting and coaching during the recent 10 days of spring football practice, Long has been preparing for the annual competition.

Thirty racks will be arrayed around the Gladys Espy Gymnasium and the weightroom as athletes compete in bench press, squat and power clean. Those who compete will be ranked in their weight class on the combined weight of the three lifts.

Valdosta State University will provide the judges.

Teams from Fitzgerald, Bainbridge, Lowndes, Seminole County, Brooks County, Cairo, Thomas County Central, Thomasville, Lanier County, Miller County, Cook, Westover, Brantley County and Colquitt County will compete.

Fitzgerald, Brooks County and Lanier County will have two teams.

Colquitt County will have a 30 competitors and several alternates.

Teams can enter three competitors in each of the 10 weight classes: 140 pounds and below, 141-150, 151-160, 161-170, 171-180, 181-190, 191-205, 206-225, 226-245 and 246 and above.

Competitors earn points for top-six finishes and teams are ranked following the competition.

Individually, the top three finishers in each weight class advance to the state competition, which will be held March 11 at Perry.

In the past, only the top two have gone on to state competition.

Last year, Colquitt County earned 28 points, with Kelvin Watts taking a first-place finish, Antonio Sutton finishing third and Bo Eunice, Ty Barnett and Reggie Lawson each finishing fourth in their respective weight classes.

Watts went on to finish first in the state competition.

Long said he thinks his lifters will perform well.

“I feel like we’ll have a good showing,” Long said Thursday while admiring the new paint job in the weight room that he has fitted out to his specifications. “We’re learning in phases. We’re still learning technique. It’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight.”

In planning for a future that will include stronger athletic teams at the high school, Long already has received equipment for weight rooms at Charlie A. Gray and Willie J. Williams middle schools. Outfitting those weight rooms will begin Monday, he said.

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