Cody Johnson didn’t start as a powerlifter.
He was a football player who wanted to play as a freshman and make all-conference.
So he got to work.
“I got in the weightroom, I started coming to summer workouts and started getting stronger and stronger,” he said. “Freshman year, we had a weight meet in Salem, and I went to the weight meet and just completely annihilated it.”
With that, a lifter was born.
“My passion has definitely changed to powerlifting,” said the Ava High School senior.
It’s worked out ok for him. He won the Missouri High School state powerlifting meet with a total of 1,420 pounds lifted at a bodyweight of 225. That included a 570 pound squat and a 520 pound deadlift.
“I mean, I have to be happy,” he said. “I have two state records, back-to-back state championships, heading to Oklahoma City for the high school nationals.”
He also holds the Ava squat record at 600 pounds.
“In powerlifting, it’s kind of like a ‘you versus you’ environment,” he said. “The effort you give in here, in a weightroom training, is what really gives you that drive to compete.”
For Cody, the thrill of competition is only part of the appeal. The iron and the steel of Ava High’s Spartan weightroom have taught him lessons he’ll carry with him forever.
“It teaches you that life lesson of the more work you put in to something, the more you’re going to get out,” he said. “The effort that you put in is what you get out.”
That effort starts above the neck, between the ears.
“The moment you step into that rack and you’ve got high, high weight on, this weight is between me and what I want, and I’m not losing to this weight,” he said. “If you have that mentality of, ‘I’m going to drop this, I can’t get this,’ then you’re not going to get it.”
That mindset will serve him well in his plans after high school: enlistment.
“Right now, I’m going to enlist in the Army,” he said. “Ever since I was little, I had a dream of going into the military. [I] always wanted to go out there, serve my country, come home, be a cop, get married, have kids, live the American dream.”
Cody traces it all back to the most primal of athletic endeavors: Find something heavy. Pick it up.
“This is honestly something that, if I didn’t have, I don’t think I would be the same person,” he said of lifting. “It has taught me so many lessons.”
Like, what does 600 pounds on your back feel like?
“Heavy,” he said.
But Cody Johnson didn’t let that weight beat him, so he is our Arby’s High School Athlete of the Week.