by John McKean
Ringing in Summer with the USAWA Nationals in York, PA
What can one say on travel day when you wake up feverish, your longtime driving partner gets lost in the morning and can’t locate the same old shopping mall where he’s met you for the past 20 years, and then locks his car keys inside his car?? Well, ya just know it’s going to be an absolutely OUTSTANDING meet, because the memories are already being made!! And, indeed, this year’s USAWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS at the famous York Barbell Club was fantastic!
Art Montini and I arrived at Denny Habecker’s home in Lebanon, PA late that evening, and immediately got into terrific lifting discussions with Al Myers, Eric Todd, James Fuller, and Denny, all of us fueled by the wonderful lasagna that Judy had prepared! We were all pumped up over the evening’s many, many lifting stories to such degree that no one slept much, and then a 6 AM start to drive the hour to York.
We were rather impressed that the York barbell company had set us up with a large canopy, underneath being a nifty insignia lifting platform. Chances of a light rain looked to be 50-50, but it held off all day and temps were just right at 76 degrees! Even the grumpiest among us couldn’t complain about the cooling light morning breeze, or periods of sun during early afternoon underneath the big tent. Heck, we were lifting right under the statue of Bob Hoffman, and anytime we’d get the urge could enter the building to wander and view all the museum’s rich history in the form of photos, statues, and fabled equipment! Even truckers on the overlooking freeway just beyond would honk their well wishes to the lifters throughout the day!
One problem did surface as our opening event, the one arm snatch, showed us that a lifting platform should NOT be placed on a slightly declined ramp! Believe me, it felt strange, and became a bit tricky to lock at a normal top position. Yet Aidan Habecker (Denny’s 12-year-old grandson) figured it out and started the contest in fine form. Others in the first (of two) sessions accepted the challenge, to the point that by later afternoon that superb technician, James Fuller, was able to do quick full squat snatches with big poundages!
Since there was a large powerlifting meet going on inside the building at the same time as our outdoor meet, we had a steady volume of interested spectators, many who hung around to ask questions about all-round lifting and to yell out encouragement on big lifts. Most of these outsiders were impressed by the sheer guts & skills of our most senior USAWA competitors – the great Dean Ross, Dennis Mitchell (in his record 26th Nationals!), almost 88-year-old Art Montini, and even hard working meet director Denny Habecker is starting to get up there!
Big Frank Ciavattone was on hand to treat us to one more huge one arm deadlift, although his docs tell him this is to be his final meet due to some internal potential problems. At 60+ Frank still makes a heavy one hander look easy, and we’ll be posting a series of stories on his lifetime training within a short time. Frank also brought son Frankie to lift and their young friend Matt, a strong young high school wrestler who astounded us with his skill and power, and the potential to go far within this organization. Matt actually set several teen world records in this first big contest.
Eric Todd was impressive in all lifting, but particularly mind-blowing in the ease that he manhandled huge poundages in the pullover and push. And, tho of the quiet easygoing style, a very knowledgeable lifter who is an absolute joy to talk strength training with. His ole midwest pal, our very own website editor, Al Myers, provided a great educational effort in proving to all of us how easy it is to rip a hamstring while doing a “mere” curl!! While Al was down and out lifting wise, he just redoubled his usual frenetic meet schedule of announcing, tabulating results, running the annual meeting, talking up the sport to onlookers, etc., etc. I think Al tends to quickly become EVERYONE’S favorite personality!
OF course it’s ALWAYS wonderful to lift with the ever smiling Bob Geib and Susan from Vermilion, Ohio. They just GLOW with their happiness over lifting, and may be our best ambassadors to the sport for everyone lucky enough to meet them! I about had a heart attack when they acquired the 2017 National meet for their hometown of Vermilion – a beautiful little old fashioned vacation town right on the shores of Lake Erie, and one of my favorite places on the planet!
I can’t say enough (tho he thinks I do with my constant teasing!) about my old lifting pal, Randy Smith from Michigan. He’s always placed toward the top overall standing in most national level meets, but this year with controlled, balanced lifting finally did take the top overall spot! Everybody was excited for this very pleasant, always happy, excellent all-rounder!
First day of summer greeted a well rested group with a bright, sunny morning, and Judy Habecker went all out for that noon picnic! That SUPER lady always does the most fantastic job in preparing for and pampering us grubby old lifters! Hey, this year even us little guys had a shot at the smorgasbord with big Al confined to limping to the table and not running us pipsqueaks down (maybe it helped also that chowhound Chad was still traveling and not able to attend this year’s meet! Naw, we missed ya,Chad!).
Overall, so many unique experiences just restore the fact that nobody has as much fun as all-rounders do! I know I’ve missed a bunch of things – there was so much going on those 3 days! – and my apologies to anyone I’ve missed in this quick report. But, hey, guys & gals, summer’s now here and time to set up for some enjoyable warm months training – our home gym will certainly rock with the new Dinnie lift RINGS that Al claimed to have “hand-bent” over his knee just for me! (No wonder his leg gave out at the meet!) I was on such a personal “high” on the drive home that I even resisted calling Marilyn to have her lock Art’s keys back in his car in our driveway, just for old time’s sake!!
2015 USAWA National Championships
June 20th, 2015
Meet Director: Denny Habecker
Announcers: Al Myers & John McKean
Scorekeepers: Al Myers & Judy Habecker
Officials (3-official system used): Denny Habecker (head judge), Frank Ciavattone (head judge), Eric Todd, Scott Schmidt, Art Montini, Barry Bryan, Dennis Mitchell
Lifts: Snatch – One Arm, Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip, Deadlift – One Arm, Pullover and Push, Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, Zercher Lift
Extra Attempts For Record
Susan Sees: Ciavattone Grip Deadlift 95K
Extra Attempts for Records:
Barry Bryan: Reverse Grip Cheat Curl 67.5K
Barry Bryan: Ciavattone Grip Deadlift 165K
Dean Ross: One Arm Deadlift 72.5K Right
Dean Ross: Pullover and Push 80K
Dean Ross: Ciavattone Grip Deadlift 127.5K
James Fuller: Reverse Grip Cheat Curl 105K
James Fuller: One Arm Deadlift 167.5K Right
BEST LIFTER AWARDS
Men’s Best Junior Matt Hancock
Men’s Best Senior Frankie Ciavattone
Men’s Best Master 40-44 James Fuller
Men’s Best Master 45-49 Al Myers
Men’s Best Master 55-59 Barry Bryan
Men’s Best Master 60-64 Randy Smith
Men’s Best Master 65-69 John McKean
Men’s Best Master 70-74 Denny Habecker
Men’s Best Master 80-84 Dennis Mitchell
Men’s Best Master 85-89 Art Montini
Men’s Best Master Overall Randy Smith
Men’s Best Lifter Overall Randy Smith
Women’s Best Master Overall Susan Sees
Women’s Best Lifter Overall Susan Sees
Best Club – Habecker’s Gym 1569.8 Points
(Denny Habecker, Barry Bryan, Aidan Habecker)
Best Club Runner Up – Frank’s Barbell Club 1228.8 Points
(Matt Hancock, Frank Ciavattone, Frankie Ciavattone)