Category Archives: 2009 Meet Results

World Championships

by Al Myers

Overall IAWA World Champion Mark Haydock 230 Kilogram Zercher Lift

“What we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality”, said IAWA President Steve Gardner at the World Council Meeting Saturday night. This quote really summed up this year’s World Championships. There may not have been alot of lifters present – but the competition was intense. Mark “Haystack” Haydock captured the 2009 Championship’s Overall Best Lifter on his last successful lift of the competition, by doing a monstrous 230 kilogram Zercher Lift!! This puts him in a small group of lifters who have exceeded over 500 pounds in the Zercher Lift throughout the history of the IAWA. The top four places were really close and decided by under 30 adjusted points. This competition had lifters of all age groups – from 15 year old Kohl Hess to 81 year old Art Montini. Denny and Judy Habecker did an outstanding job of making this event a special occasion for everyone. They even invited the lifters to their house Saturday and Sunday nights after the competition for food and refreshments. We were entertained by George “the Magician” Dick with his many card tricks. I am still scratching my head on the one where the card passed through Chad and ended up stuck on the glass on the shelf behind him. Denny and Judy know how to run a smooth meet. Everything went according to plan and both days finished in good time. The banquet was fantastic with a wide selection of food. Everyone left on a full stomach!! Steve Gardner worked the microphone and score table, and like always, kept the meet running efficiently. John Horn spent 2 full days loading and spotting and definitely deserves a big pat on the back. It takes people like John, who do the work behind the scenes, to make a meet successful.

Frank Ciavattone pulling a Ciavattone Grip Deadlift

It was a real pleasure getting to see Frank Ciavattone again. Frank has just recently had a hip replacement and wasn’t fully ready to compete in a meet yet. But Frank is a great Champion and made it to this meet to show support to the IAWA!! When he pulled his last Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, a lift named after Frank because of his amazing gripping power, he dedicated it to Karen Gardner in her battle in overcoming cancer – it was an emotional moving moment. Karen is the “First Lady” of All-Round Weightlifting and everyone has the utmost respect for her. It has now been 30 years since Frank has been cancer free himself.

Howard Prechtel and Bob Geib

Another great surprise this weekend was the return of Howard Prechtel. The meet about stopped when in walks Howard and Bob Geib!!! Howard spent many years as the IAWA President and has done as much through the years for the USAWA as anyone. Howard seemed to really enjoy himself at the meet, and even picked up a loaded barbell a couple of times. A person may forget a lot of things in life – but you never forget how to lift weights!!! Welcome back Howard!! Also – thanks to Bob for bringing Howard to this meet.

Group Photo of the IAWA World Championships

I had a great time – got to see alot of old friends, and even made a couple of lifts that I had to push myself on. Thanks again to Denny and Judy for hosting this Championship and I’m already looking forward to Scotland in 2010!!

Top Three Individuals at the 2009 IAWA World Championships Left to Right: Chad Ullom, Mark Haydock, Al Myers


2009 IAWA World Championships
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
October 3rd & 4th, 2009

Meet Directors:   Denny and Judy Habecker

Lifts on Day 1: Hack Lift – One Arm, Clean and Press Behind Neck, Straight Arm Pullover, Deadlift                         -Ciavattone Grip
Lifts on Day 2: Snatch – One Arm, Pullover and Press, Zercher Lift

Officials (3 official system used):  Karen Gardner, Frank Ciavattone, Al Myers, Dennis Mitchell, George Dick, Art Montini

Loader: John Horn plus others

Scorekeeper:  Steve Gardner and Judy Habecker

Emcee:  Steve Gardner


Name BWT Class Age Division Hack C&P Pullover Deadlift Snatch
P&P Zercher Points
Mark Haydock ENG
122.9 125 34 Open 145 R
105 57.5 227.5 80 R
157.5 230 764.3
Al Myers USA
114.7 115 43 M40+ 150 R
90 60 210 70 R
160 190 763.1
Chad Ullom USA
104.3 105 37 Open 140 R
90 55 205 70 R
145 200 749.7
Roger Davis ENG
81.6 85 39 Open 117.5 R
80 45 185 60 R
120 170 738.4
Denny Habecker USA
86.1 90 67 M65+ 90 R
65 32.5 140 35 R
95 95 661.1
John Monk USA
79.8 80 43 M40+ 100 R
75 47.5 122.5 50 R
125 137.5 658.2
Bill Spayd USA
107.9 110 35 Open 110 R
90 55 200 60 R
120 170 655.2
Scott Schmidt USA
119.7 120 56 M55+ 100 R
92.5 40 182.5 40 L
92.5 115 598.5
Art Montini USA
78.2 80 81 M80+ 60 R
32.5 27.5 105 20 R
60 77.5 588.9
Josh Haydock ENG
66.9 70 19 J18/19 72.5 R
55 25 132.5 37.5 R
70 137.5 582.1
John Kavanagh ENG
94.3 95 21 Open 80 R
82.5 30 170 52.5 R
105 140 577.1
George Dick SCT
127.4 125+ 60 M60+ 102.5 R
60 30 175 40 R
90 120 559.7
Dennis Mitchell USA
72.1 75 77 M75+ 50 L
20 20 90 15 L
35 85 484.4
Dennis Vandermark USA
92.5 95 56 M55+ 75 L
30 130 22.5 R
60 110 442.0
Kohl Hess USA
118.8 120 15 J14/15 82.5 R
42.5 27.5 120 30 R
60 80 394.4
Frank Ciavattone USA
127.0 125+ 54 M50+ 90 R
20 15 182.5 20 R
25 20 321.3

BWT are bodyweights on day 1. All lifts are in kilograms. Points are age and bodyweight adjusted.
All lifters except Bill Spayd weighed in the second day for records. All lifters were in the same bodyweight class as Day 1.

Extra Attempts for Records:
Dennis Mitchell –  Hack – One Arm 50 R, Straight Arm Pullover 22.5, Deadlift Ciavattone Grip 98
John Monk – Snatch – One Arm 55 R, Straight Arm Pullover 50
Kohl Hess – Clean & Press Behind Neck 45, Straight Arm Pullover 28.5, Zercher Lift 92.5
Denny Habecker – Pullover and Press 98
Mark Haydock – Straight Arm Pullover 61

Best Lifter Awards:

Josh Haydock – Junior 18/19 70 kg Champion and Best Junior 18/19
Kohl Hess – Junior 14/15 120 kg Champion and Best Junior 14/15
Dennis Mitchell – Masters 75+ 75 kg Champion and Best Master 75+
Art Montini – Masters 80+  80 kg Champion and Best Master 80+
John Monk – Masters 40+ 80 kg Champion
Roger Davis – Open 85 kg Champion
Denny Habecker – Masters 65+ 90 kg Champion and Best Master 65+
Dennis Vandermark – Masters 55+ 95 kg Champion
John Kavanagh – Open 95 kg Champion
Chad Ullom – Open 105 kg Champion
Bill Spayd – Open 110 kg Champion
Al Myers – Masters 40+ 115 kg Champion and Best Master 40+
Scott Schmidt – Masters 55+ and Open 120 kg Champion and Best Master 55+
Mark Haydock – Open 125 kg Champion
Frank Ciavattone – Masters 50+ and Open 125+ kg Champion and Best Master 50+
George Dick – Masters 60+ 125 kg Champion and Best Master 60+

IAWA Team Postal

Individual Results from the IAWA World Team Postal Competition

by Al Myers

Rick Meldon - Top Individual at the World Team Postal Competition

Along with figuring Team results, the meet organizer Steve Gardner, also figured individual results from the IAWA World Team Postal Competition.  The individual winner of this postal competition was Rick Meldon, England, of the Sunbury Club. Congratulations Rick!!! Rick’s team also won the Team Title – making him a double winner.  Rick Meldon has been winning championships in the IAWA since the IAWA origin, starting with his first overall best lifter victory in 1990.  He was the Best Master Lifter , Best Open Lifter, and the Overall Best Lifter in the 2008 IAWA World Championships held in Burton, England on October 4th & 5th, 2008. At this meet, he was crowned “Champion of Champions”. The Meet Director, Steve Gardner, had invited all the previous Overall Best Lifters to this meet to compete against each other to decide who was the Champion of Championsl!  Rick has won two other Overall Best Lifter titles at the IAWA World Meet, in 1992 and 2004. Rick has more Overall Best Lifter titles at the World Meet than anyone else in the history of the IAWA.

Top Individuals in the Postal Competition

1.   Rick Meldon, England        432.5 pts
2.   Al Myers, USA                   379.5 pts
3.   Steve Sherwood, England  369.5 pts
4.   Nick Swain, England          349.4 pts
5.   Steve Andrews, England    346.8 pts
6.   Chad Ullom, USA               329.4 pts
7.   Peter Phillips, Australia      324.1 pts
8.   Graham Saxton, England   321.3 pts
9.   Phillipe Crisp, England       312.5 pts
10. James Gardner, England    298.9 pts

These point totals were calculated using bodyweight adjustments, age adjustments, and applying the Blindt Formula.  For those not familiar with the Blindt Formula, it involves multiplying each lift by a factor that is supposed to bring all lifts to the same weighted value.  Every lift has a different factor.  The intended purpose of using the Blindt Formula is to keep the heavier lifts from being a bigger part of a lifter’s total than the lighter lifts.  The Blindt Formula has not been used recently in any USAWA competitions.


A word from the Organiser:

This postal competition was organised as a ‘Fun’ team event, for teams of three, but also with the flexibility to allow individual lifters to join in to see where they rank amongst the other lifters. We had lifters from England, USA and Australia taking part, and from the ages divisions of Juniors 13 + Under through to the Masters  75+. Well done to all who took part, I will organise another competition for next year with four different lifts. Please see below that the results are figured first as teams and then as individuals. Best Wishes and Happy Lifting – Steve Gardner

(3 Teams comprised of only 2 members, but there were also 3 individual lifters, so the individuals were added to those teams as ‘guests’ to round things up into teams of 3.)

Pos.     Team                                      Team Members                                             Amended Points

1          Hastings Warriors 1 (Eng)         Nick Swain   Phillipe Crisp  Sam Hills                        963.6

2          Sunbury1 (Eng)                       Rick Meldon  Tom Meldon  Tom Chantler                   961.3

3          Dino Gym (USA)                      Al Myers Chad Ullom   Darren Barnhart                    931.8


4          Haven Hotshots (Eng)               Steve Sherwood   Tom Allsop  Stewart Brookes        920.8

5          Powerhouse Gym (Eng)            James Gardner  Jon Eccleshall Graham Saxton          890.9

6          Belmont WA (Australia)             Peter Phillips   Samuel Trew   Nic Porter (Guest)       808.1

7          Old and Done (USA)                 Jim Malloy   Scott Schmidt  Bill Crozier                     745.3

8          Granby Grippers (Eng)              Steve & Daniel Andrews  Karl Birkinshaw (Guest)     735.1

9          Hastings Warriors 2 (Eng)          Steve Shah   Ed Shortle  Gordon Fairey                   703.4

10        Haven Heroes (Eng)                  John Kavanagh Dave Moreton  Peter Lee (Guest)      674.4

11        Sunbury 2 (Eng)                       Jeff Luther  Trevor Evans  Nick Sayce                       598.8

Individual Amended Totals – Ranking of all lifters

(After Bodyweight, Age and Blindt Formulas are applied)

1          Rick Meldon               (Eng)               432.5

2          Al Myers                     (USA)             379.5

3          Steve Sherwood          (Eng)              369.5

4          Nick Swain                 (Eng)               349.4

5          Steve Andrews           (Eng)               346.8

6          Chad Ullom                (USA)              329.4

7          Phillipe Crisp               (Eng)              326.3

8          Peter Phillips               (Australia)       324.1

9          Graham Saxton           (Eng)              321.3

10        James Gardner            (Eng)              298.9


Individual Amended Totals – Rankings Continued

11        Scott Schmidt                                   294.7

12        Sam Hills                                          287.9

13        Tom Allsop                                       285.4

14        Tom Meldon                                     284.8

15        Steve Shah                                      281.5

16        Jonny Eccleshall                               270.7

17        Stewart Brookes                              265.9

18        John Kavanagh                                262.0

19        Jim Malloy                                       260.9

20        Samuel Trew                                   250.8

21        Tom Chantler                                  244.1

22        Dave Morton                                   241.9

23        Ed Shortle                                      237.2

24        Nic Porter                                       233.4

25        Darren Barnhart                              222.9

26        Jeff Luther                                      210.5

27        Karl Birkinshaw                               210.1

28        Trevor Evans                                  210.0

29        Gordon Fairey                                 184.7

30        Nick Sayce                                      178.3

31        Daniel Andrews                               178.2

32        Peter Lee                                        170.6

33        Bill Crozier                                      189.7

Individual Class Winners and Positions – World ‘Open’ Postal 2009


Daniel Andrews          J13 +Under  55k Champion


Stewart Brooks           Open 70k Champion

Nic Porter                   Open  75k  4th

Nick Sayce                 Open 75k   6th

Jonny Eccleshall          Open 80k   2nd

Karl Birkinshaw           Open  85k  5th

John Kavanagh            Open 90k   3rd

James Gardner            Open  95k Champion

Phillipe Crisp               Open  100k  Champion

Gordon Fairey              Open  100k  2nd

Chad Ullom                 Open  105k  Champion

Samuel Trew               Open  105k  2nd

Tom Chantler               Open  125k Champion

Masters 40+

Nick Swain                  Open  90k  Champion  and  40+  90k  Champion

Al Myers                     Open 120k Champion  and  40+ 120k Champion

Darren Barnhart          Open 125+ Champion  and  40+ 125k Champion

Masters 45+

Steve Andrews            Open 75k Champion  and   45+  75k Champion

Rick Meldon                 Open 85k Champion  and   45+  85k Champion

Sam Hills                     Open 85k 2nd   and      45+  85k  2nd

Tom Allsop                   Open 90k  2nd  and      45+  90k  Champion

Graham Saxton            Open 110k Champion  45+  110k Champion

Masters 50+

Dave Morton               Open 75k 2nd   and   50+  75k Champion

Jeff Luther                  Open 75k 5th    and   50+  75k  3rd

Ed Shorttle                  Open 75k 3rd    and   50+  75k  2nd

Tom Meldon                Open 85k  3rd   and   50+  85k  Champion

Masters 55+

Steve Sherwood          Open 80k  Champion  and   55+  80k  Champion

Peter Phillips               Open 110k Champion and   55+  110k Champion

Scott Schmidt              Open 120k  2nd  and  55+  120k  Champion

Masters 60+

Steve Shah                  Open  85k  4th   and  60+  85k  Champion

Trevor Evans                Open  85k   6th  and  60+  85k  2nd

Masters 65+

Jim Malloy                   Open  115k  Champion   and 65+  115k Champion

Masters 70+

Bill Crozier                  Open 105k  2nd  and   70+ 105k Champion

Masters 75+

Peter Lee                    Open 85k  7th    and  75+  85k  Champion

Individual Lift Rankings

(After Bodyweight, Age and Blindt Formula is applied)

Squat Rankings

1          Rick Meldon               240.5               139.2

2          Al Myers                    272.5               128.8

3          Phillipe Crisp              240.5               120.3

4          Peter Phillips              210                  114.7

5          Nick Swain                 200.5               113.4

6          Steve Sherwood         160                  108.0

7          Tom Meldon               170.5               104.9

8          Chad Ullom                220                  104.4

9          Steve Shah                155.5               101.6

10        Steve Andrews            145                  97.8


11        Scott Schmidt              182                  96.4

12        Graham Saxton           190                  96.3

13        Tom Chantler              210.5               94.4

14        Sam Hills                    155.5               92.1

15        Darren Barnhart          210                  90.1

16        Tom Allsop                  150                  85.1

17        Jim Malloy                   137.5               83.7

18        Samuel Trew               170                  79.3

19        James Gardner            150                  75.8

20        Ed Shortle                   105.5               70.1

21        Nic Porter                    115                  67.6

22        Jonny Eccleshall           120                  66.3

23        Trevor Evans               95                    65.3

24        John Kavanagh            127.5               64.5

25        Dave Morton               95                    63.3

26        Bill Crozier                  92.5                 62.7

27        Gordon Fairey              125.5               61.8

28        Daniel Andrews           62.5                 60.8

29        Stewart Brookes          95                    58.4

30        Karl Birkinshaw           100                  53.6

31        Nick Sayce                  85                    49.4

32        Peter Lee                     60                    49.1

33        Jeff Luther                   70                    48.2

Pullover and Push Rankings

1          Rick Meldon               180.5               117.8

2          Nick Swain                 153                  97.6

3          Steve Andrews           127.5               97.0

4          Al Myers                     170                  90.6

5          Chad Ullom                160                  85.6

6          Steve Sherwood         110                  83.8

7          Phillipe Crisp              140.5               80.1

8          Graham Saxton          135                  77.5

9          Tom Meldon               110.5               76.7

10        Jim Malloy                  105                  72.1


Pullover and Push Rankings Continued

11        James Gardner            120                  68.4

12        Sam Hills                     100.5               67.1

13        Stewart Brooks           95                    65.8

14        Tom Allsop                 100                  64.0

15        Scott Schmidt             105                  62.7

16        Jeff Luther                  77.5                 60.1

16        Dave Morton               80                    60.1

18        John Kavanagh           100                  57.0

19        Peter Phillips               85                    52.3

20        Jonny Eccleshall          90                    56.0

21        Steve Shah                 70.5                 51.9

22        Trevor Evans               65                    50.4

23        Samuel Trew               90                    47.3

24        Ed Shortle                   60.5                 45.3

25        Karl Birkinshaw           70                    42.3

26        Tom Chantler              80.5                 40.7

27        Nick Sayce                  60                    39.3

28        Nic Porter                    55                    36.4

29        Gordon Fairey              65.5                 36.3

30        Peter Lee                     39.1                 36.0

31        Daniel Andrews            31.7                 34.8

32        Bill Crozier                  42.5                 32.5

33        Darren Barnhart           65                    31.4

Straddle Deadlift Rankings

1          Steve Sherwood          200                  96.5

2          Rick Meldon                 230.5               95.3

3          Al Myers                     250                  84.4

4          Peter Phillips               210                  82.0

5          Sam Hills                    190.5               80.6

6          Chad Ullom                235                  79.7

7          James Gardner           220                  79.5

8          Jonny Eccleshall          200                  78.9

9          Graham Saxton           200                  78.4

10        Phillipe Crisp               210.5               76.1


11        Nic Porter                    180                  75.6

12        Tom Meldon                 170.5               75.0

13        Steve Shah                  160.5               74.9

14        Steve Andrews             155                  74.7

14        Stewart Brooks            170                  74.7

16        Samuel Trew               220                  73.4

17        Nick Swain                 180.5               73.0

18        Darren Barnhart          235                  72.0

19        Ed Shortle                  150.5               71.5

20        Scott Schmidt             182                  68.9

Straddle Deadlift Rankings Continued

21        Tom Chantler             210.5               67.4

22        John Kavanagh           180                  65.1

22        Karl Birkinshaw          170                  65.1

24        Tom Allsop                 160                  64.9

25        Jim Malloy                  137.5               59.8

26        Dave Morton               125                  59.5

27        Bill Crozier                  100                  55.7

28        Peter Lee                    90                    52.6

29        Gordon Fairey             140.5               49.4

30        Jeff Luther                  100                  49.2

31        Trevor Evans               100                  49.1

32        Daniel Andrews           62.5                 43.5

33        Nick Sayce                  100                  41.5

One Hand Clean And Jerk Rankings (L or R)

1          Steve Sherwood (R )   52.5                 81.2

2          Rick Meldon   (R )       60.5                 80.2

3          Steve Andrews  (R )    50                    77.2

4          Al Myers  (R )             70                    75.7

5          John Kavanagh (R )    65                    75.3

6          James Gardner  (R )    65                    75.2

7          Peter Phillips (R )         60                    75.1

8          Tom Allsop     (R )       55                    71.5

9          Jonny Eccleshall (R )    55                    69.5

10        Graham Saxton (R )     55                    69.1


11        Stewart Brooks (L )     47.6                 67.0

12        Scott Schmidt (R )       55                    66.7

13        Nick Swain (R )           50.5                 65.4

14        Chad Ullom (R )          55                    59.7

15        Dave Morton (R)         38.6                 58.9

16        Nic Porter (R )            40                    53.8

17        Jeff Luther (R )           33.7                 53.1

18        Steve Shah (L )           35.5                 53.1

19        Samuel Trew  (L )        47.5                 50.8

20        Ed Shortle (L )             33.0                 50.2

21        Phillipe Crisp (R )        43.0                 49.8

22        Karl Birkinshaw (L )     40                    49.1

23        Nick Sayce (R )           36.2                 48.1

23        Sam Hills (L )              35.5                 48.1

25        Jim Malloy (R )            32.5                 45.3

26        Trevor Evans (R )        28.7                 45.2

27        Tom Chantler (R )       40.5                 41.6

28        Daniel Andrews (R )     17.6                 39.2

29        Bill Crozier      (R )      25                    38.8

30        Gordon Fairey (R )       33.0                 37.2

31        Peter Lee (R )              17.6                 33.0

32        Darren Barnhart (R )    30                    29.4

33        Tom Meldon (R )           20                    28.2

Team Nationals

Team Nationals – The Dino Gym versus The JWC

by Al Myers

Front row (left to right) - Al Myers and Chad Ullom Back row (left to right) - John O'Brien and Thom Van Vleck

The Dino Gym and the JWC squared off against each other as the only two entries in this year’s USAWA Team Nationals. The Dino Gym Team consisted on Chad Ullom and myself,  while the JWC Team consisted of Thom Van Vleck and John O’Brien.  Team Dino Gym took the early lead and held on for the Overall Win – but there were no losers in this event as both teams were in different weight classes and divisions.  Several difficult lifts were contested this year that required the teams to work well in unison. The meet started out with the Team One Arm Snatch.  Performing an One Arm Snatch by yourself is difficult enough – but it is twice as hard when doing it as a Team.  Both lifter’s lockouts have to be in perfect synch with one another – or the weight will shift to the lifter with the slower lockout and make it impossible for that lifter to finish the lift. The next lift was the Team Deadlift with the Fulton Bar, done with a Ciavattone Grip.  Again, both lifters need to pull with the same speed and style because if the bar doesn’t come up even, the weight shifts to the lifter on the low side and you will lose your grip. The Team Bench Press – Feet in Air had to be the most difficult (and unnerving) lift in the entire competition.  Balance was a big factor in this lift, and not only did it require total confidence in your team partner but the other team as well. After all, we had to spot each other!!!  Both Teams could have done more in this lift.  The meet ended with the Team Jefferson Lift.  The Team Jefferson Lift is much easier together than you would originally think. By positioning your feet “opposite of each other”, the bar comes straight up and doesn’t want to twist.  Several new USAWA Team Records were set today and much fun was had by all in this “friendly” competition.  In fact, Thom and John wanted a rematch – and Chad and I accepted. So there will be more to come involving the Dino Gym versus the JWC.


Team Nationals
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
September 20th, 2009

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Lifts:  Team Snatch – One Arm
Team Bench Press – Feet in Air
Team Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip
Team Jefferson Lift

Officials (3 official system used):  Scott Tully, Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Thom Van Vleck, John O’Brien

Scorekeeper:  Scott Tully

Dino Gym Team:
Al Myers –  43 years old, 255 pounds BWT
Chad Ullom – 37 years old, 232 pounds BWT

JWC Team:
Thom Van Vleck – 45 years old, 293 pounds BWT
John O’Brien – 40 years old, 280.5 pounds BWT


Team Snatch Deadlift Bench Press
Jefferson Total
Dino Gym
235 606 575 1000 2416 1897.8
215 518 575 850 2158 1600.0

All lifts recorded in pounds.  Points are bodyweight and age adjusted.

Middle Atlantic Postal

by Al Myers

Middle Atlantic Open Postal Meet
June 2009

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts:  Clean and Press – Reverse Grip, Continental Snatch, Hack Lift

Lifter Age BWT C&P Snatch Hack Total Points
Al Myers
42 255 220 198 573 991 802.19
Orie Barnett
48 227 170 110 405 685 622.33
John  Wilmot
62 213 110 100 300 510 541.74

BWT – Bodyweight in pounds. All lifts in pounds. Points are age and bodyweight adjusted.

Best Overall Lifter    Al Myers

National Championships

by Ben Edwards

Pictured front row left to right: Rudy Bletscher, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, Dale Friesz, Dennis Mitchell Pictured back row left to right: Charlie Scott, Randy Smith, Tim Piper, Ben Edwards, Joe Garcia, Al Myers,Chad Ullom

Special thanks goes out to my wonderful wife Carrie. She willingly acted as my chauffeur, masseuse, coach, cheerleader, scorekeeper, photographer, and trusted adviser for the entire day. That gave me an unfair advantage over anyone else who didn’t have that kind of support system. I’m a very lucky man to have her in my corner.

At 6 o’clock in the morning, on June 20th, we set out with all the food and other supplemental supplies I would need for a day spent competing at the 2009 USAWA Nationals.

The destination was Al Myers’ Dino Gym in Holland, Kansas. I’ve been there three times previously, but each time I go there is always something I see that I missed on my previous visits to the gym.

The Dino Gym is the best-equipped gym I’ve ever encountered. That’s not an exaggeration either.

Al is a former Highland Games champion, so there is a good deal of Highland Games training equipment at his gym and a training field dedicated to the Highland Games.

Al hosts both strongman and all-round weightlifting contests in his gym too, so both of those disciplines are well represented.

The Dino Gym has everything. From a full set of round strongman training stones to a set of power stairs implements and more farmer’s walk devices than I could keep track of.

I was more worried about the drug testing than the contest itself. Not because I had anything to hide, but because I have a notoriously shy bladder, haha. The drug testers were both very nice and patient guys. The direct-observation tester managed to put me at ease and I luckily gave a sample without holding all the other competitors up for half the day.

After the urine test was completed and that was out of the way, I began mingling with the other competitors and greeting the guys I had already met and some of the guys I hadn’t met yet.

The last time I competed in an all-round contest at the Dino Gym (not counting the Record Day since it’s essentially a contest between me and the record book) was 2006. So it had been 3 years since I had seen most of the guys I had previously met at Al’s gym.

Coming to the Dino Gym and being greeted by Al Myers is always such a pleasure. He makes everyone feel like they’re the only person in the room when he’s talking to you. He is the kind of lifter who can do any physical task very well. He’s athletic, moves fluidly and with great power, and can accelerate heavy weights in the blink of an eye. When he’s focused on a big lift and psyches himself up for it – it’s time to get out of the way and let him lift!

I will never forget getting “drafted” by Al to provide a safety-spot for the most impressive lift I’ve ever seen in person – his 1,000lb Roman Chair Situp that he achieved at his Record Day back in February.

Jason Payne was spotting one side of the ridiculously-loaded bar and I was on the other side. I was sweating bullets because I was not nearly as strong as Jason and I felt the need to bow out and try to decline the spot request.

Well, there was no denying Al when he said he knew I could do it! I bucked up and realized there was no way I was going to deny Al a shot at a possibly once-in-a-lifetime world record attempt like that. He nailed the lift and it’s in the record books now. Quite frankly, I doubt anyone will want to even attempt to come close to that number in the near future.

The mindset it would take to even believe a lift like that is possible is something that I hope to one day achieve. Al is definitely one of the most influential lifters that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. He proves the adage about the mind being able to take the body places where it arguably might not necessarily want to go.

Al is always a gentleman – even when he’s psyched and ready to tear up the weights. The determination on his face shines through and everyone watching holds their breath in anticipation of witnessing something special happen on the platform. They were not disappointed, because Al won the Overall, Open, and Masters categories at the contest! Congrats Al, and thanks again for a great day of camaraderie and fun!

Al’s 73-year old father-in-law, Rudy, is a tremendously nice guy. My wife and I had a blast talking with him throughout the contest. He matched me pound-for-pound on the backlift! And to be honest, he had more in the tank on that lift – although he modestly tried to convince me that the lift was hard for him – even though he made it look easy. He also managed to make the Pullover and Press look pretty smooth. Something that I was not able to do. Rudy was awarded the title of Best Lifter in the 70 to 74-year old category. I’m not sure how much he beat the previous Backlift record in his age and weight class, but it had to be by a huge margin.

My wife and I also spent some time talking with Charlie Scott and his charming wife. Charlie was unfamiliar with some of the lifts but he did a great job – and broke some records throughout the contest. I was really surprised when Charlie’s wife happened to mention that he was 74. I estimated his age at most to be around 65, so he was in the company of the other Masters lifters at the contest that filled their sports bottles from the Fountain of Youth and Strength.

Meeting competitors that I had only previously read about is something that I’ll remember fondly for the rest of my lifting career.

The youngest competitor was 32-year old Mike McBride. His consistently strong performances netted him 2nd place overall. This was the first time Mike and I met – although I believe we have traded a few USAWA records back and forth over the past few years. Mike is ferociously strong on all the basic lifts and I don’t think he even specializes on the grip events – so that’s humbling to think he matches or outperforms me on some of the lifts that I have dedicated 9 years of my training to.

I want to mention how nice it was to see Ian Reel again. I last saw him at the 2006 Dino Challenge, where he was already a very strong young man. I think he was 16 years old then and was easily out-lifting me in every event. He was leaner and more muscular this time. Now he’s a college thrower and seems to be as strong as he ever was, but at a lighter bodyweight. Ian is as nice and humble as he is strong – two qualities that are not wasted on me and my wife.

Ian wanted to see me take a shot at chest-crushing Al’s #4 gripper with 2 hands, so I obliged him by shutting it that way. After I did that, he absentmindedly picked up a #2 gripper, and then slammed the handles together with ease! I was very impressed and asked him if he trained with the grippers. Modestly shaking his head, Ian told me that he didn’t train with the grippers – but it’s obvious that the training he does for his throwing focus is astonishingly effective at building a high level of hand strength.

I look forward to seeing Ian compete in an all-round competition again – and maybe one day I can convince him to enter a grip contest. I know he’d do well even though he’s not a grip specialist.

It’s always good to see Joe Garcia. He gave me some really good tips on moving my feet faster on the split part of the jerk, and kept coaching me to bend my knees more than an inch on the One-Hand Snatch. Joe is a wealth of training information and we were very close in strength on all the events until the backlift – where he left me far behind in the dust.

Chad Ullom was quite a bit leaner and lighter in bodyweight than the last time I saw him at the 2006 Dino Challenge. His prodigious strength was still there in full force and he won the One-Hand Snatch with 155lbs and tied Al for 1st on the Axle Clean and Jerk with 255lbs. Chad’s the type of guy that is as quick to congratulate a guy that lifted 100s of pounds less in a contest as he is to congratulate the guy who won the event. That means a lot to a mid-pack lifter and it motivates me to continue plugging away and getting stronger – all while retaining my humility.

I hadn’t met Tim Piper yet but I had seen his name in the record book and for a very good reason. He’s very athletic and has the fastest foot speed I’ve ever seen on the split jerk part of the Axle Clean and Jerk. My wife was very impressed by his athleticism, and so was I. He was also humble and modest about his lifting abilities. Tim was about 30 pounds lighter than me but stronger on a few of the lifts.

Randy Smith and I had never met until this contest. I had seen his name many times in the record books, because a few of his records were in events that I specialized on for a while. He is a super nice guy and a pleasure to talk to about lifting in general and other miscellaneous topics.

His wife was very nice too, although I don’t remember her name offhand. Randy is very impressive for a few reasons. His lean frame is capable of some big lifts. He’s also kind of quiet and unassuming, so he might surprise a few people that expect the best lifters to be slightly more vocal than the mid-pack guys or the beginners. Randy was far superior to me in every lift but the Pullover and Press. And I think that was only because his arms seemed to be a half-foot longer than mine.

I not only aspire to be as strong as Randy when I’m 54 years old – I aspire to be as strong as him at any age! He was awarded the Best Lifter title in the 55 to 59-year old category.

Scott Tully is a big, nice guy. He was the scorekeeper for the entire contest and was also very patient with me because each time I walked away from the platform – whether it was a successful attempt or a failure – I forgot each time to let him know what my subsequent attempt was going to be. Each time I belatedly remembered to go up to the score table, he smiled and told me it was no big deal when I apologized about forgetting to give my next attempt. I think it was a little case of the nerves for me. Even though I’ve competed in about a dozen strength contests, this was my first USAWA Nationals.

Darren Barnhart was one of the loaders who selflessly loaded and unloaded tons of weight all through the long day of competition. Thanks Darren! He’s also the Dino Gym record holder in the 2” Vertical Bar lift – with 229lbs. Heck of a lift under the USAWA rules! I tried to take that gym record back in February – but came up short a few times. Was able to pull the weight up, but couldn’t stop the rotation of the bar.

Ryan Batchman was the second loader, and he spent the entire day alongside Darren loading and unloading. I sincerely think that these guys had the hardest day of anyone there. I’d take competing any day over moving the tremendous amount of weight that these guys did. Bending and stooping over about 8 hours must’ve made them wake up feeling like they’d been hit by a bus the next day. Ryan was a solid guy and looked like he could’ve done 50% over any lift I did that day.

Thanks for loading all day Ryan and Darren! I – and all the lifters – also appreciated the care Darren and Ryan took to make sure that the bars were properly aligned on the 2-Barbell Deadlift. It is a seemingly small gesture, but it makes a big difference when you’re tired and want to conserve every bit of strength for a PR attempt.

The three judges were Bill Clark, Thom Van Vleck, and Mark Mitchell. I’ve met all three guys before and enjoy their company immensely. Bill had his game face on since he was the head judge. But he still managed to give me some very good advice on a few of the lifts. I did manage to pull my head out of the sand and take his advice and put it to good use too. So all was not lost. Thanks guys – judging is one of the most important parts of the day since it’s a Nationals competition.

Thom looked a bit different since he didn’t have the same beard that he did back in 2006. I really want to make it out to one of his Highland Games one of these days. I wish I had more time to talk to him after the contest because I really did want to pick his brain on a few training issues relating to the my desire to try out the Highland Games events.

It was really nice to see Mark Mitchell again too. He looked quite a bit lighter than the last time I saw him too. I think his back issues are healed up and that’s fantastic news too. I remember that he is beastly strong.

Before this contest, Denny Habecker was another lifter that I had only read about. Denny is 66 years old and won the Best Lifter title in the 65-69 year-old category. What impressed me the most about him was the fact that he took the time to give me some pointers on the Pullover and Press – a lift that he just happens to be a phenomenal performer in.

I listened with rapt attention when he gave me some pointers. I would’ve given him my full attention even if I hadn’t just watched him Pullover and Press 195lbs! For those that haven’t experienced the difficulty of this lift, suffice it to say that 195lbs would be respectable in any gym even if you were 20 years old and weighed 250lbs. Since he was under 200lbs and three times older, it was exponentially more impressive to watch him put on a Pullover and Press clinic. Thanks again for the help Denny! His big Pullover and Press might be my vote for the impressive lift of the entire contest.

Dennis Mitchell was awarded the Best Lifter award in the 75 to 79-year old category. The lift I was most impressed by was his 750lb Backlift – at 161lbs bodyweight – and 77 years old. I didn’t get to talk to Dennis more than just a “hello” here and there.

Wish I would’ve taken the time to go up and introduce myself though, because his is another name that I’ve read about on multiple occasions but never had the chance to meet until this contest.

I have a remarkable ability to remember records (numbers), so I have to remember not to walk up to someone I’ve never met and risk looking like the “Rain Man” when I quote from memory one of their records down to the pound.

Dale Friesz was another lifter that I recognized the name, but had never met him before the contest. I also didn’t get to talk to Dale very much – but I watched his 2-Barbell Deadlift pretty closely because I liked his style of almost stiff-leg deadlifting the weight up to lockout. I think that style is better suited to counter the balance issues I had with that event. I’ve already started integrating some stiff-leg barbell deadlifts into my workouts at home since watching Dale’s performance. Thanks Dale!

Art Montini, 81 years old, was awarded the title of Best Lifter in the 80 to 84-year old category. Art is built like a fireplug – and has the power and strength to back up that impressive build.

It’s obvious when seeing him for the first time that he’s one of those guys that’s just built for lifting heavy stuff. I’ve read a lot about Art, possibly more than any other lifter in the USAWA, so I really enjoyed watching him in action.

I wanted to talk to Art more than the little bit I managed to, but he was very approachable and friendly, so I should’ve just gone up more and chatted him up. I didn’t want to throw him off of his game plan by talking endlessly about lifting though.

There were no female competitors at this competition, which surprised me since I’ve seen some superb female lifters over the years. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of female USAWA members right now, but I think everyone would like to see the ladies well-represented at next year’s USAWA Nationals! I’ll start working on trying to get my wife interested in training and competing next year. Come on ladies, break a bunch of records next year!

There is nothing that I would change if I was able to repeat the experience of the 2009 USAWA Nationals again. I enjoyed my entire day. From the 90-minute drive to Al’s Gym, to the day spent gawking at the incredible amount of Iron Game paraphernalia lining the walls.

I tried to be more bold with my 1st and 2nd attempts too and I think that paid off with some significantly higher results than I would’ve secured had I gone with my usual extremely conservative 1st attempts. I went 16 for 18 at the final count.

I look forward to competing again next year – and I will be training very hard to secure a final placing a little higher than this year’s performance.

Congratulations to all the lifters in the 2009 USAWA Nationals! Thanks again to the loaders and the judges! Thanks also to the family and friends who made the trip and cheered on their respective lifters!

Until next year.


2009 USAWA National Championships
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
June 20th, 2009

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Lifts:  Snatch – one arm, Cheat Curl, Clean & Jerk – Fulton Bar, Pullover and Press, Deadlift – 2 bars, Backlift

Officials (3 official system used):  Bill Clark, Thom Van Vleck, Mark Mitchell

Loaders: Darren Barnhart, Ryan Batchman

Scorekeeper:  Scott Tully

Al Myers
145 R
Mike McBride
135 L
Chad Ullom
155 R
Joe Garcia
95 R 155
Randy Smith
100 R
Rudy Bletscher
55 R
100 100
Denny Habecker
70 R
Ben Edwards
115 R
Art Montini
35 L
Tim Piper
105 L
Charlie Scott
50 R
Dennis Mitchell
30 R
Dale Friesz
27.5 R

Notes:  All lifts in pounds. BWT = bodyweight, WAP = Weight Adjusted Points, AAP = Age Adjusted Points

Extra Attempts for records:
Chad Ullom  Pullover and Press 311 lbs.
Joe Garcia  Deadlift – 2 bars 350 lbs.
Dennis Mitchell  Snatch – one arm 30 lbs. (Left), Cheat Curl 83.5 lbs., Deadlift – 2 bars 200 lbs.

Best Lifter Awards:
Best Lifter Overall                   Al Myers
Best Lifter Open                     Al Myers
Best Lifter Master                   Al Myers
Best Lifter 20-39 Age Group     Mike McBride
Best Lifter 40-44 Age Group     Al Myers
Best Lifter 50-54 Age Group     Randy Smith
Best Lifter 55-59 Age Group     Joe Garcia
Best Lifter 65-69 Age Group     Denny Habecker
Best Lifter 70-74 Age Group     Rudy Bletscher
Best Lifter 75-79 Age Group     Dennis Mitchell
Best Lifter 80-84 Age Group     Art Montini

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