There’s only one way Denham Springs High powerlifter Lawson Navarre was able to describe his effort at the United States Powerlifting Association National Championships on Friday.
“The lights turned on, and the pressure just created a diamond,” he said.
That fits the bill perfectly after Navarre won a national championship in the 123-pound weight class while setting two International Powerlifting League world records in his weight class in the deadlift and the squat.
“I’m honestly still in shock,” he said while stepping away from dinner after the meet in Atlanta on Friday night. “It just hit me about two hours ago. I’m probably going to wake (Saturday) morning and finally feel it, but I’m just so excited to be able to experience this.”
“Honestly, it’s the last thing I expected coming out with a title like that,” Navarre continued. “I never thought I would be one of those people. I just put my head down and worked and tried to listen to as much of what (DSHS powerlifting) Coach (Joe) Ryan said. He always talks about bringing a horse to the water and the horse has to drink. He told me himself earlier (Friday) when we were on the phone that he brought me to the water, and I drank. That’s what happened …”
In turn, Ryan gave the credit to Navarre for his performance after he didn’t lift with the DSHS team as a freshman and bombed out at the regional meet as a sophomore. He placed third in the state at 114 pounds at the state meet and earned all-state recognition this past season.
“The kid has worked tremendously over the past year,” Ryan said.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Lawson and the things he does, the things he’s bounced back from,” Ryan continued. “It’s not always easy being the little guy. He holds it to heart, and he’s definitely pound-for-pound one of the strongest kids, if not the strongest kid, we have at Denham.”
Navarre went 8-for-9 on his lifts during the USPA meet, but it’s the first one – in the squat rack – that set the tone for his day.
“Last year at regionals, I actually bombed out on squat after missing a first attempt, so a huge part of this season has been if we miss a first attempt, just not worry about it,” Navarre said. “Just put your head down, stay the same weight or go up to what you think you can definitely hit. I just got a little over-hyped with the crowd and being at nationals. I hit the third attempt and then they gave me the rack command and I stumbled backwards, and I got red lights. I was like, in this situation, I think Coach Ryan would definitely go up with how fast they move, so I went up from 300 (pounds) to 315, and I ended up smoking the second attempt and getting three white lights, and from then on, the meet went amazing, and I went 8-for-9 the rest of the day.”
Navarre finished with a lift of 330 pounds in the squat, an IPL world record in his weight class.
“It could have been a very, very bad day …,” Ryan said. “That’s something that he and I have worked very closely and personally on – just keeping his composure. He is a very, very kind of emotional, wear everything on his sleeve kid. He’ll let you know when he’s a winner, and he’ll show when he’s not.”
In the bench press, Navarre set a state record at the USPA meet with 187 pounds using the same type of approach in setting a personal record.
“For me, I’ve only ever gone 3-for-3 on bench one time,” he said. “I struggle with dealing with commands a lot, and (Friday), I calmed down on bench. I didn’t go crazy.
“I just calmed down and let everything happen and thought about my cues and what exactly to do, and Coach Ryan coached us well enough to where I knew exactly what to do, and I ended up coming away with a new state record on bench,” Navarre said.
He also set an IPL world record in the deadlift at 364 pounds, and for that, Navarre said his thoughts turned to Scott Mayfield, his junior high track coach, who passed away in 2021 after battling cancer.
“Usually on deadlift, my mentality is the biggest part,” Navarre said. “It’s not even about strength. It’s about how much I can muster up, and on that third attempt, I was just thinking about my coach that passed a couple years back, Coach Mayfield, and you can see that in the video (of the lift) where I point to the sky. I was just thinking about him and making my coach proud and Coach Ryan proud. I ended up coming away with 352 on the third attempt, and then I was like, ‘Alright, we’re going to go for the world record on the fourth …”
Navarre said he was unable to attend Mayfield’s funeral last year because it fell on the same day as the regional powerlifting meet. He bombed out on the bench press after dedicating the meet to Mayfield.
“It was one of the biggest moments of my life, and with something like that happening, it changes you, but it ended up changing me for the better,” Navarre said. “I just started working toward making Coach Mayfield proud after something like that.”
The other part of the equation for Navarre is that he competed at 123-pound weight class at the national meet after competing at the 114-pound class, weighing in at 107 pounds for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state meet.
Navarre said changing weight classes was ‘one of the biggest differences I’ve ever gone through in the sport of powerlifting’.
“This meet, I ate a huge dinner before weigh-ins and still weighed in two pounds under,” he said. “Being able to go into it full strength and not having to worry about recovering and getting my hydration back, it was a huge difference, and it showed in my performance.”
Said Ryan: “For a small guy, you would think he can move mountains. His tenacity is ridiculous -- his passion for this and everything.”
“He tried to gain some weight for this and be as strong as he could, and it showed.”
Navarre said a driving factor for him to compete in the event came from his DSHS powerlifting teammates Raygan Bosco and Ryann Roberson taking part in a national meet last summer.
“As soon as they came back, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do next summer,’” Navarre said. “So I set my mind on USPA Nationals.”
He competed in a qualifying meet in Mississippi in late April to get to the national meet.
“I had the best meet of my life,” Navarre said of the qualifying meet.
Navarre is planning on taking what he’s learned on the national stage to help him improve for the upcoming high school season.
“It’s just amazing the amount of influential people that I’ve met and talked to and gave me knowledge and talked to and had good conversations with,” Navarre said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. It will stay with me forever.”
Ryan is counting on it.
“Things like this only fuel those kids,” Ryan said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind Lawson Navarre will lift in college, and this is only helping him having this type of exposure at the national competition level.”