History of the Dino Challenge

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing the Judd Clean and Jerk (a one leg C & J) in the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge. Chad has won the Dino Gym Challenge three times (2008, 2009, 2010), which is the most times it has been won by the same lifter.

The Dino Gym Challenge is approaching FAST!  It is this coming Saturday, with the event being hosted in the Dino Gym.  I’m still taking entries, so last minute entries will be accepted.  I do appreciate those letting me know ahead of time of their intent to enter, but if you want to just show up on meet day to compete that will be ok for this one.  The Dino Gym Challenge has been going on for 8 years now, with this being the ninth.   Only three CURRENT USAWA events have a longer running history in the same location  – the Zercher and the Deanna Meets hosted by Bill Clark, and Art’s Birthday Bash hosted by Art Montini.  Two other long standing meets have had “breaks” in their run:   Bad weather interrupted the Goerner one year and it was cancelled, and the Backbreaker was cancelled a couple of times due to lack of entries. 

Early on I named this meet the Dino Gym Challenge for this reason – every year there would be a different meet challenge to take on.  No two meets would be the same.  Each year a different “theme” is contested.  This makes this meet very interesting, and allows different lifters to have advantages because of the different lifts that are contested each year.  This year it is the battle of the one arm lifts: 5 lifts with each one contested with both arms.  I am going to give a “run-down” of the preceding Dino Gym Challenges and how they turned out.

2011 – Dino Gym Old Time Strongman Challenge

The Dino Gym presented the VERY FIRST Old Time Strongman competition that year.  Five new and exciting OTSM events were contested: Saxon Snatch, Cyr Press, Dinnie Lift, Apollons Lift, and the Goerner Stroll. This meet will forever be known as the first promotion of OTSM within the USAWA, and what a great inauguration this meet was!   A great turnout of 18 lifters took part.  The class winners were: Women – Felecia Simms, Mens Junior – Cody Lokken, Mens 40+ – Al Myers, Mens 60+ – Dean Ross, and Open – Sam Cox.  The top three placings of the day went to: 1. Sam Cox, 2. Eric Todd, and 3. Chad Ullom.

2010 – The Arthur Saxon Pentathlon

This meet was done  to honor the great German Strongman Arthur Saxon.  Five lifts were chosen which were some of Saxon’s favorites: the Dumbbell Swing, the Bent Press, the 2-Hands Anyhow, the Arthur Lift, and the Foot Press.  The Foot Press was done as an exhibition lift (not an official USAWA lift at that time, but it is now) and was a big hit of the meet.  It mimicked the stage act where Arthur would support a big plank loaded with people as natural weight.  5 lifters took part, with Chad Ullom being the overall meet winner.  A celebrity was in attendance – Wilbur Miller.  Wilbur is a legend in All Round Weightlifting and his presence at this meet enhanced the meet atmosphere.  Afterwards, several of us toasted Arthur Saxon with Arthur’s favorite workout beverage, the Saxon Health Drink.

2009 – The meet named after others

The 2009 Dino Gym Challenge was very unusual in that all 5 of the lifts contested were “named” after other lifters.  These lifts were contested: the Kelly Snatch, the Ziegler Clean, the Judd Clean and Jerk, the James Lift, and the Allen Lift.  All of these lifts required LOTS of flexibility that made them very hard to do.  Chad Ullom prevailed as the overall winner of the four lifters in attendance: Chad, Al Myers, Scott Campbell, and Rudy Bletscher.   However, despite all of these lifts being done with “light” weights, one of the biggest lifts in USAWA history was done on this day.  Steve Schmidt showed up to be officially judged in the Back Lift.  He finished with 3050 pounds (after doing 3000 pounds as well) to set an ALL-TIME USAWA record in the Back Lift.

2008 – The Roger Davis Selection

The 2008 Dino Gym Challenge saw lifts selected by Roger Davis.  Roger had just finished a compilation of the top All Round lifters of ALL-TIME in history using these lifts as the criteria: the one arm snatch, the one arm clean and jerk, the continental to chest and jerk, two dumbbells clean and push press, and the 12″ base deadlift.  His report was published in MILO and gave me the notion to have a meet using these lifts.   This meet must have scared off the competition because only two lifters showed up to compete: Chad Ullom and Scott Campbell.  I was going to compete as well, but I was the only one there to officiate so I judged instead.  Chad ended up the victor over Scott.  Wilbur Miller showed up as well and did some record-setting after the meet.  He first did a 350 pound Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, followed by a 400 pound heels together deadlift, and finishing with a 450 pound 12″ base deadlift.  Wilbur did these lifts at 75 years of age and 230 pounds!

2007 – The All Round Powerlifting Meet

The theme of 2007 was that of an All Round Powerlifting Meet.  These lifts were contested: Steinborn, Pullover and Push, and the heels together Deadlift. 11 lifters took part.  Al Myers was the overall best mens lifter and Kristen Barry was the top overall womens lifter.  A team award was given which was won by the Dino Gym.  A full record day was contested afterwards.  Some great lifts were done during the day: Chad Ullom 430# Steinborn, Kristen Barry 310# heels together deadlift, Bill Cookson 227# Index Fingers Deadlift, and myself teaming with Chad to hit a 407# Team Cheat Curl.  Afterwards, we all reconvened at a restaurant in town to celebrate the annual HASA banquet.  The big news of the banquet was the induction of Thom Van Vleck into the HASA Hall of Fame.

2006 – The Travis Lift Showdown

This meet had a record setting turnout of lifters – 23 LIFTERS!   Five lifts were contested: Fulton Bar Clean, Maxey Press, Front Squat, Jefferson Lift and the Travis Lift. The main event of this meet was the Travis Lift. This was the first time the Travis Lift had been held in competition.  Previously the only lifter in the USAWA who had ever done the Travis Lift was Howard Prechtel, and he did it only in record days.  At the time Howard held the ALL-TIME record with a lift of 1815 pounds.  Joe Garcia broke Howard’s record with a lift of 2000 pounds.  The class winners were:  Women Junior – Kirsti Griffis, Women Masters – Mary McConnaughey, Mens Junior – Kent Longbine, Mens Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Mens Middleweight – Eric Todd, Mens Heavyweight – John O’Brien, Mens Master – Joe Garcia.  The Mens Overall Best Lifter went to Eric Todd.

2005 –  The Back Lift Rematch

A big group of lifters turned out this year for the Dino Gym Challenge – 19 lifters.  Several difficult lifts were contested: the Fulton Bar Snatch, the Inch Dumbbell Deadlift, the Alternate Grip Bench Press, the Steinborn, and the Back Lift.  Steve Schmidt reclaimed his ALL-TIME Back Lift record with a lift of 2920 pounds at this meet.  Class winners were as follows: Junior Women – Misty Fritz,  Open Women – Mary McConnaughey, Junior Men – Ian Reel, Mens Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Mens Middleweight – Eric Todd, Mens Heavyweight – Chad Ullom, Mens Superheavyweight – Matt Graham, and Mens Masters – Joe Garcia.  Eric Todd was the overall Best Lifter of the meet.  Matt Graham put on a grip-lifting show after the meet by picking up two INCH REPLICAS at the same time! 

2004 – The First Ever Dino Challenge

A full field of 17 lifters took part in the first ever Dino Gym Challenge.  These lifts were contested: Fulton Bar Clean and Press, Pullover and Push, One Arm Clean and Jerk, Steinborn, and the Back Lift. Several records fell during this meet.  Al Myers broke Steve Schmidts All-Time record in the back lift with a lift of 2915 pounds.  Class winners were as follows: Women – Jessica Todd, Men Lightweight – Tim Pinkerton, Men Middleweight – Al Myers, Mens Heavyweight – Eric Todd, Mens Masters – Joe Garcia. The overall Best Lifter of the meet was Al Myers.