by Thom Van Vleck
Group picture from the 2014 USAWA National Championships
I attended and was the head judge recently at the USAWA National Championships in Macomb, Illinois. Tim Piper was the meet director and set up a large tent by the Salvation Army Gym. As you recall, the Salvation Army Gym is in the basement of the local Salvation Army and was the victim of a terrible flood that did a lot of damage. USAWA members helped contribute money that was used to restore the gym back to it’s former glory. It was a TON of work that Tim and his family and friends put a lot of sweat equity into as well as there was no insurance that covered this. I’ll be honest, the work was so good I may not even noticed had I not known what happened. They have some pictures of the flooding and a mark on the wall about 2ft high. One of the details that amazed me was they took water damaged photos, scanned them, and reprinted them! What a great job and lots of work that shows a lot of passion regarding the importance of the gym and what it provides the local community.
As I arrived I was concerned as there was a strong possibility of thunderstorms! Having the meet outside allowed for plenty of room but you always run the risk of weather with an outdoor meet. A little rain wouldn’t have stopped us….but a stronger win might have! However, the weather missed us and other than a few drops of rain it was a great day to have an outdoor meet! Al Myers pulled double duty as the emcee and running the scoring table. That’s pretty hard to do but Al made it look easy and was on the ball all day keeping the lifters in line and the meet going smoothly. This allowed Tim the chance to lift and I think he greatly appreciated that.
I was put in the head judges chair and Mike Murdock was my wing man. Eric Todd and Dennis Habecker swapped out on the other side. It makes it easy to I know I made a couple of minor mistakes but none impacted the outcome of the lift. Funny how you can do something perfectly a hundred times and you remember the mistakes. I redlighted a push press for coming up out of the feet on the floor using the old rules for the push press even though I KNEW the changes (old habits die hard) but the lifter still got 2 whites. Nobody slashed my tires so I think everyone was pretty happy with the officiating.
Overall best lifter Chad Ullom gets set to do a big Zercher Lift!
Tim had a crew of loaders that did a fantastic job all day. I often spend a lot of time double checking loads as the head judge and only once did I catch a mistake. It wasn’t even a mistake about weight, but on one side they had a 20kg weight and on the other two 10kg plates. Same weight but different combination. So I was very impressed…not a single misload all day! They also cheered on the lifters which was a big plus for a meet atmosphere. Tim’s daughter took care of the shirts and drinks and was a shining presence all day long!
It is really fun to have a front seat for the lifting. I got to see some great lifts and records broken. I particularly enjoy it when a lifter comes back and makes a weight he or she missed previously. Sometimes it’s not how much was lifted but seeing someone push their limits and overcome their own doubts to bring out their best. I would rather see someone gut out a tough personal best than someone stronger effortlessly make a lift and being satisfied with what they lifted as it won the event rather than going for more.
Tim had great meet shirts and provided drinks for those working the meet. He also had Pizza for lunch. We had short breaks between lifts and the lifters could go inside and cool off in the air conditioning and re-hydrate. Later was the banquet at Dawn Piper’s Free Range Yoga gym. At one point, myself, Tedd Van Vleck, and Randy Smith put on a juggling exhibition (isn’t it like guys to find something and turn it into a competition). There was great fried chicken, breaded fish, and sides. Dawn had made cheesecake dessert…..I had to let the belt out a notch after that!
Thom and Randy showing their skills at tandem juggling!
Then came the surprise of the evening! I had heard we would have entertainment and I wondered if Dawn would put on a Yoga demo as I know she’s incredible at it. Instead we were treated to belly dancing! That’s right, belly dancing. Dawn and another friend teach it and the perform regularly at Ren fairs and other venues. It was great fun and they were very good. Luckily, none of the members tried to match their moves….that could have been ugly!
As always, the best part of all was the camaraderie. Telling stories, laughing, hanging out…..great fun! That’s the real reason I go. I always come back refreshed and motivated to get back in the gym. I find the lifts and lifters inspiring….each one in their own way. From Art Montini still getting it done at age 86 to seeing 16 year old Logan Kressly out there putting his ego on the line. Not many 16 year old’s would have the guts to do that.
We may be a small organization and I know some might pick on our attendance…..but really…I would say we HAVE MORE FUN than any other larger group! While I hope we can grow and all that I’m still happy to be a part of the USAWA.
2014 USAWA National Championships
June 21st, 2014
Salvation Army Gym
Meet Director: Tim Piper
Meet Announcer: Al Myers
Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers
Meet Photographer: Tedd Van Vleck
Courtesy Table: Whitney Piper
Meet Officials: Thom Van Vleck (head official), Mike Murdock, Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Eric Todd
Loaders: Justin, John, Paul, and Aaron
Lifts: Crucifix, Snatch – One Arm, Clean and Push Press, Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar, Curl – Cheat, Zercher Lift
EXTRA ATTEMPTS FOR RECORDS
Tim Piper: Crucifix 40.8
Denny Habecker: Snatch-One Arm R 36
Logan Kressly: Clean and Push Press 65
Notes: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in kilograms. R and L designate right and left. TOT is total kilos lifted. PTS is adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight allowances.
BEST LIFTER AWARDS
Best Junior Lifter: Logan Kressly
Best Senior Lifter: Eric Todd
Best Master Lifter 40-44: Chad Ullom
Best Master Lifter 45-49: Lance Foster
Best Master Lifter 55-59: Randy Smith
Best Master Lifter 70-74: Denny Habecker
Best Master Lifter 80-84: Dennis Mitchell
Best Master Lifter 85-89: Art Montini
Overall Master Lifter: Chad Ullom
Overall Best Lifter: Chad Ullom
Best Club: Dino Gym (Chad Ullom & Dean Ross)
Best Club Runner Up: KC Strongman (Eric Todd & Lance Foster)