Tag Archives: Al Myers

Let’s Review: The Kennedy Lift

by Thom Van Vleck

Al Myers doing a Kennedy Lift.

Al Myers doing a Kennedy Lift.

With the Old Time Strongman Championships coming up September 9th at ET’s House of Iron and Stone I thought it might be a good time to review the lifts.  Eric Todd picked 4 lifts from the OTSM list.  Today let’s revisit one of those, the Kennedy Lift. First of all Al Myers did a great article on it’s history.  Here’s a link to it: Kennedy Lift

So the rules are as follows:

H9. Kennedy Lift

This is a partial lift using a straddle stance on the bar, where the bar height must not be over 18” from the platform (measured to the bottom of the bar). The plates or bar may be supported on stands, rack supports, or blocks to obtain this height. The lifter must have the bar between the legs, as defined by the rules of the Jefferson Lift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed. It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching). A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries. Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Al sums this lift up nicely when he said, “I envision the technique to be very similar to how most lift the Dinnie Stones, using a straddle style.”  The lift is very much a “Continental” version of a partial Jefferson (or Straddle) deadlift.  In that it can be bounced, drug, up or “hitched”

If you want to see the current records here is a list:

AGE M/F CLASS RECORD LIFTER
14 M 80 500 Kressly, Logan
45 M 110 750 Myers, Al
45 M 125+ 500 Foster, Lance
50 M 125+ 365 Foster, Lance
55 M 70 405 Freides, Steve
60 M 80 325 Santangelo, Stephen
60 M 95 675 Traub, Larry
60 M 100 315 Garcia, Joe
60 M 129 525 Glasgow, Dave
65 M 80 405 McKean, John
70 M 90 225 Habecker, Denny
70 M 125 400 Ross, Dean
80 M 80 225 Durante, Richard
80 M 105 315 Clark, Bill
ALL M 70 405 Freides, Steve
ALL M 80 500 Kressly, Logan
ALL M 90 225 Habecker, Denny
ALL M 95 675 Traub, Larry
ALL M 100 315 Garcia, Joe
ALL M 105 315 Clark, Bill
ALL M 110 750 Myers, Al
ALL M 120 525 Glasgow, Dave
ALL M 125 400 Ross, Dean
ALL M 125+ 550 Kressly, Doug

As you can see this is a great opportunity to be added to the record list.  I hope to see you there!

My Nationals Weekend

By Al Myers

This is my monster Northern Pike I caught in Canada the week before the meet!

This is my monster Northern Pike I caught in Canada the week before the meet!

This is not intended to be a meet report, but rather “my take” on the Nationals Weekend. First of all, it was a busy week for me as I was on a fly-in fishing trip for trophy Northern Pike way up North in Canada before I even got to Cleveland.  I was worried that I was gonna wear myself out before the meet with all the big fish I caught up there.  Plus, the all you can eat delicious home-style meals served at night (along with the big breakfasts and shore lunches) that I was never going to make weight at the meet.  Well, reeling in those big Pike must have loosened up my shoulders a bit instead, and working hard all day on the lake must have burned more calories than I predicted as I did make my weight class at the meet and was able to do a token clean and push press with my bum shoulders to get a mark in it.

Upon arriving Friday evening from a flight from Saskatoon to Cleveland (luckily it was on schedule) I was greeted at the airport by 3 young Dino Gym lifters who were making their first National Meet appearance. These guys made the 15 hour drive to lift with only 2 stops (oh to be young with a large bladder).  I was greeted with a sign at the airport that said, “Welcome back from rehab, Big Al”. Thus the fun begins.

We all stayed at a lodge in Vermilion that my buddy John McKean had arranged.  John and his family were staying there, and it was right on Lake Erie.  Truly a beautiful place. I had made plans to fish with John after the meet, and believe it or not, John had promised me that he would show me his secret fishing spot. More on that later.

The boys relaxing at the lodge before the meet.

The boys relaxing at the lodge before the meet.

I can’t say enough about the work meet promoters Bob Geib and Scott Schmidt did for this meet.  They ran into problems two weeks before the meet with the venue location in Vermilion being cancelled on them.  Luckily they were able to secure a meet venue at the West Park YMCA in Cleveland at the last minute. And I’m glad they found this spot.  This YMCA was the location of many All Round meets in the past, including past Nationals, put on by Howard Prechtel.  To say it contained USAWA history puts it mildly.  I was honored to be able to lift there.

The weekend of lifting went super smooth.  Everything was on schedule and everyone seemed to have a super time.  Alot of the USAWA veterans were on hand with a fine mix of newcomers to Nationals.  Several registered clubs were represented – Dino Gym, Habeckers Gym, Schmidt Barbell Club, Ambridge Barbell Club, and Frank’s Barbell Club.  One thing that impresses me with our organization is how everyone “jumps in” and helps.  We had a great group of seasoned officials (Frank Ciavattone, Dennis Mitchell, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, LaVerne Myers, and Randy Smith) who officiated both days.  These guys are the “best of the best” amongst USAWA officials which is what we want for our Nationals.  John McKean and myself did the announcing duties, and Judy did the scorekeeping.  Plus what a great group of loaders we had.  Young Aidan Habecker loaded all weekend as well as lifting and what a great job he did!!!  He took charge of the loads and seemed to know exactly what plates needed put on.  Also, got to mention Franklin and Ryan for all the hard work they did, as well as others.  Not a single misload all weekend!

The only injury we had (unfortunately there seems to always be one at Nationals) was newcomer Tim Moore from Cleveland. Tim is a power house and a great guy and I sure hope to see him again in a USAWA meet. He tore his bicep on the second day doing the One Arm Clean and Jerk.  I’ve since heard from Scott that he has had surgery to repair it and is now on the mend.  If it wasn’t for this injury he would have been in contention for a top spot overall.

I was SO GLAD to see Chris Waterman in the meet. I lifted with Chris over 10 years ago in the USAWA at Nationals.  Chris lifted exceptionally (placing 3rd Overall) and looks in fantastic shape. Obviously he hasn’t laid off the weights in his sabbatical from USAWA competition.  The women’s division had two very veteran lifters – Susan Sees and Kathy Schmidt.  In the end Susan pulled out the Overall Best Womens Lifter (her third, other two were 2015 and 2012).  It was great to see the perennial Nationals competitior Randy Smith there.  I always enjoy lifting with Randy (as well as having a few drinks afterwards with him!).  We had a great time catching up on things.  Randy never seems to change – he looks and lifts the same today as he did 15 years ago when we first met.

Art continues to amaze us with his lifting.  Art, along with Dennis Mitchell, both compete in the 85-89 age group. These two guys really impress me how they have been so consistent with their lifting year after year and never missing the National Championships.  Dennis has competed in more USAWA Nationals than anyone in history, a mark I don’t see being broke. That will be a topic for another story in the future.

My dad LaVerne rounded out the Dino Gym Team at Nationals.  After the first lift, the 1 hand VB lift, in which he had the top mark of the meet, he earned the nickname from “the boys” as Pa Vice Grips.

Hanging out with Scott at his home gym!

Hanging out with Scott at his home gym!

After the lifting on Saturday Scott Schmidt invited me over to his house and to see his home gym.  When me and “the boys” got there Kathy had a table full of delicious snacks to welcome us. Thank you Kathy!!!!  Scott then showed us his home gym, which is an unbelievable home training facility. I spent 30 minutes just looking at his gym decor.  I really like to see home gyms as they are very unique and often reflect the personality of the owner.  All Round home gyms are much different than any commercial gym, and Scott’s is one of the best I’ve seen.

The Dino Gym Team - Brandon Rein, Cody Lokken, Cale Dunlap, Al Myers, and LaVerne Myers

The Dino Gym Team – Brandon Rein, Cody Lokken, Cale Dunlap, Al Myers, and LaVerne Myers

I was very excited to see the new Dino Gym guys lift (Cale, Cody, and Brandon).  A funny remark John made at the meet announcing, after he was having a hard time keeping them recognized, was that they seem to “be from the same litter.”  That drew laughter from the crowd.   These young lifters have just started to lift at the Dino Gym and all show great promise.  I felt the pressure of being their coach, and just wanted them to lift well and enjoy the experience.  Friday night before the meet back at the lodge I was visiting with John and told him I better go visit with these young lifters and give them a talk to “settle their pre-meet nerves”.  Put it this way – when I got to the beach where they were hanging out they seemed pretty relaxed drinking bourbon and smoking cigars so the talk wasn’t needed.  Then I started to worry that they were following my example too much!

Bob and Scott planned an exceptional banquet following the meet. It was at a place called the West Park Station.  We got there really early, which was nice, as we were able to enjoy the live band and a few Yuenglings on tap outside on a back patio.  I spent a hour telling “the boys” Chad stories. He’s now a legend in their minds. The banquet food was outstanding and it was a buffet (the only way to go after a meet!). The Awards Ceremony was the highlight of the evening.  The meet awards were outstanding. Plus we gave out the USAWA Yearly Awards at that time.  They let us use the microphone that broadcasted over the entire restaurant – so everyone there heard what was going on!  I noticed people not even associated with our group clapping and cheering.  I was joined in the presentation with Scott and Bob, Frank, and an impromptu surprise speech by Brandon.  A very special moment for me that evening was Frank presenting me the Howard Prechtel Plaque.  Every year, in Howard’s memory we present an annual traveling plaque to someone who the previous years recipient feels is worthy of it for their contributions to the USAWA for the prior year. Frank was last years selection. I’ll be honored next year when I can pass this tribute plaque along to someone else.

Fishing with John McKean!

Fishing with John McKean!

The next day, as promised, John took me, my dad LaVerne, and “the boys” to his secret fishing spot.  I wish he would have told me to wear raingear.  John is a master fisherman and ties his own jigs.   These things look like the real thing and the fish can’t resist them! It wasn’t long before we had caught several fish, including a really nice catfish caught by Brandon. I was picking John’s brain on the art of jigging, and luckily John is one who likes to talk so I was getting some of his secrets out of him. It was a great time but the wind kept picking up till all of us were soaking wet, from head to toe.  As John put it, “it was battle conditions!”

The boys eyes were open wide when the feast was served!

The boys eyes were open wide when the feast was served!

The next day we made the long drive home, all in one day but with more stops than two. We made a sightseeing stop in Indianapolis at the Indy Speedway ( “the boys” are big Nascar fans) and at my favorite BBQ place in Columbia, Missouri for supper. I ordered up a large feast fit for Kings, and then as the last bit of coaching I did for the weekend, made the boys eat it all.  Great times!!!!!

Peter Phillips – The Australian Superman

By Al Myers

Peter Phillips lifting the 1500 pound challenge train wheels at the Dino Gym.

Peter Phillips lifting the 1500 pound challenge train wheels at the Dino Gym.

I have known Peter Phillips from Australia for many years.  We have competed with each other many times in IAWA world competitions, with the first being at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. At that World Championships we had an epic battle on the platform.  Peter lifted unbelievable, winning the overall best lifter award.  I was behind him in second place in the overall standings which I felt great about, as he lifted like superman.

Peter has been a major leader, contributer,  and competitor in the ARWLWA, centered out of the Belmont Club in Perth, Australia. Peter has been involved with all round weightlifting for many years, both with the “old group” and the new generation of all rounders in Perth.  He’s currently serving as President of the ARWLWA. He’s also a major leader in IAWA – serving as a past meet promoter, IAWA Vice President representing Australia, and serving on the IAWA Technical Committee. He’s competed in many IAWA Championship events through the years, with overseas trips to England, Scotland, New Zealand, and the USA.

Peter and myself a few years back!

Peter and myself a few years back!

However, on his trip to the USA to take part in the 2016 World Championships, Art’s Birthday Bash, and the Gold Cup, I got to know him much better than ever before.  At Lebanon we both stayed at the same hotel and we went out to eat several times together (along with having a few beers!), and at the Gold Cup Peter stayed at my house.  We really got to know each other “off the platform” during this hectic month of IAWA competitions.  In getting equipment ready for the Gold Cup I don’t know what I would have done without his assistance. He helped me get everything ready, loaded on the trailer, set up at the meet, and even unloading everything once I got it back to the gym! Plus his insight as a meet promoter helped me identify things that was needed for the meet.  While he was here I introduced him to a few country past-times of mine  – fishing, shooting trap, riding 4-wheelers, and a relaxing afternoon drive in one of our native grass pastures enjoying the peace and quiet of nature.

We even took time to relax and go fishing!

We even took time to relax and go fishing!

After the Gold Cup we had time to catch a few workouts in together at the Dino Gym.  Our training styles  and training philosophies are very similiar. We spent alot of time discussing training, specifically how it applies to all round weightlifting.  Peter is a great training partner – but the logistics of living 10,500 miles apart will hinder our training together!  I introduced him to the Neck Lift, as well as doing some harness lifting.  Peter’s a natural at this type of lifting.  I have a challenge lift at the Dino Gym which consists of a two huge train wheels connected with a heavy bar.  The preset loaded weight of this challenge is 1500 pounds (actually a few pounds more, I rounded down).  These train wheels sit by the front door of the Dino Gym and most people just look at them as they come into the gym.  Only a few have actually lifted them throughout the years.  After getting done with a harness lifting session I challenged Peter to take them on.  Of course Peter is not one to back down from a challenge!  Now I want to mention that these Train Wheels are very tippy, and it’s more difficult than lifting on a regular heavy bar. Peter lifted them with ease.  I even had him do it a second time so I could get a good picture!

We had such a good time I hated to see him leave. I know we will be lifelong friends.

The “Dreaded Red X”

by Thom Van Vleck

Nobody was immune to getting the dreaded Red X from Bill. Even Al got one!

Nobody was immune to getting the dreaded Red X from Bill. Even Al got one!

My roots in the USAWA go way back.  My first meet was a 1979 “Odd Lift” meet put on by the founder of the USAWA, Bill Clark.  But before that my Uncles and their friends often lifted in Clark’s meets going back to the fifties. Clark founded the USAWA but he actually didn’t start the “Odd Lifts”.  That goes back to Ed Zercher, Sr who was a great lifter in the 30’s and after.  But even before Ed was in his first contest he had a buddy in his old neighborhood in St. Louis named John Wille. In the 1920’s they hung out in the same neighborhood and they did acrobatics, lifting whatever was available, and made make shift weights out of scrap metal.

Today we look to the internet.  The USAWA has a great website.  Al Myers does a lot of work to keep this thing going and having regular updates.  But for 50 years it was “Ol’ Clark”.  Bill was old school in an old school way that made a lot of old school stuff seem new!  He never touched a computer.  For 50 years he put out old fashioned newsletters.  For you young guys, that means he typed up the newsletter on a typewriter, then he copied the news letter (on a Mimeograph and later a copy machine), and he would put them in envelopes, actually lick the stamps (because they didn’t just stick on like they do now) and mail them to your actual mailbox (not the “mailbox” that your e-mail comes to).

I remember looking through all the old newsletters my Uncles had.  Reading about the lifts, the lifters, the meets and random thoughts (and sometimes rants) that Clark would have about steroids, improper judging, or whatever he thought was undermining the integrity of the sport.  If you sent him a letter, be careful, he’d put it in the newsletter!

He operated all this on a shoe string budget and his own sweat. He probably spent a lot of his own money.  But he did ask donations.  You could get the newsletter if you sent him even just a few bucks to pay for the stamps!  He would also include in almost every newsletter a little rant about “bucking up” and make jokes about not being a deadbeat.

He would have a list of people that gave money.  He would even put how much they gave.  I think to give credit to those who gave more than their fair share because they loved the sport.  Those that gave often really valued the information and back then there was no internet and finding out much of anything about weightlifting was about impossible).  He also would “Red X” the guys who hadn’t “paid up” for some time.  He would put what he called the “Dreaded Red X” on the front of your newsletter.  It kind of reminded me how teachers would mark up your papers with red ink when you got something wrong.  The funny part was he would often keep sending guys newsletters for a long time.  Especially so if he knew someone was on hard times.  Like my Uncle Wayne.  Clark could be really nice that way.

In some ways I think Ol’ Clark got vilified a bit for his “Red X” and other things he did when he would call out guys for not following established rules. He sometimes had a way of making a remark about it the next time you would see him to let you know his displeasure….one might even call it a snide remark.

But you know what.  Now that I’m older.  Now that I’ve been in the position of running organizations that get by on shoe string budgets and I’ve put in long hours to run highland games, strongman contests, lifting meets as well as three different weightlifting clubs (Jackson Weightlifting Club, Truman State Irondogs, and the A.T. Still University Osteoblasters) as well as other Church and community organizations that ONLY happen because the people involved reach in their pockets and pull out some cash that includes more than a few drops of sweat…..I get it.

That bring me to present day.  When Ol’ Clark ran that newsletter you saw the stamp.  You knew it cost money.  You knew the paper, the ink, the copies, and all that went into it cost money so I think it was easier to see how much all of it cost.  Well, now Al Myers stepped in and took it over some 8 years ago.  He created a website, then got a better one, and did a lot of work to keep it going and at what cost.  I bet a lot more than the stamps Ol’ Clark used.  At the least, I would say both men work (worked) equally hard.

So what can you do?  Send him a few hundred bucks!  Well, that would be nice but I think the best thing we could do as an organization is support the guys that make it happen.  Not just Al, but our officers, judges, etc.  We do this by following the rules, getting meet results to Al in a timely manner, make sure our meets are as legit as we can, write a good story for the meet results for the website, maybe send Al a good story or anecdote for the website (like how people would send Clark a letter) and he’d put in on the website.  Buy Al a beer, slap him on the back….heck, I bet a thanks would go a long way.

Otherwise, people like Bill and Al get burned out.  They love a sport and after awhile they feel unappreciated and frustrated and next thing you know…..well, let’s just try and do our part and keep the USAWA great.  It’s only as great as the people who run it and the people who are a part of it AND appreciate it!

Gold Cup 2016: My Take

by Thom Van Vleck

gold-cup

Thom Van Vleck inducts Chad Ullom and Al Myers into the Hall of Fame at the awards banquet for the 2016 Gold Cup.

I was recently honored to be asked to help out at the the 2016 Gold Cup.  To be honest the main reason for me to be there was to induct my friends Al Myers and Chad Ullom into the Hall of Fame. An honor they both deserved and I hope I did them justice with their induction speech.  They are very deserving.

I helped out with the set up, take down, and other logistics of running the meet. It was held in the old Union Pacific train depot in downtown Abilene, Kansas.  A very historic city and a great place to hold a meet.  The location was perfect, the meet was well run, and I don’t think you could ask for a better set up for some great lifting.  Al Myers was the Meet Director and he did a great job and had lots of help.  Steve Gardner announced and he is very smooth on the microphone and his knowledge of the lifts makes him the right man for the job.

I also had the privilege of judging most of the meet.  I am a level 2 judge and I have judged at some big meets over the years for the USAWA and IAWA.  I take it very seriously.  Judging also gives me a front seat to all the action (plus I don’t have to load….I’ve done my fair share of that,too!).

All in all, another great meet.  While Al did a great job this was like every other USAWA meet I’ve ever been a part of.  Everyone chips in to make it happen!  Great job to all!

 

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