Tag Archives: Chad Ullom

Highland Games Masters 2014

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad Ullom tossing the caber in Scotland!

Recently USAWA members Dave Glasgow, Chad Ullom, and Thom Van Vleck went to Inverness, Scotland to attend the Masters World Champs of Highland Games.  Unfortunately, Dean Ross was unable to attend.  Dean was the last person to have attended EVERY SINGLE MWC since it’s inception a dozen years ago.  Larry Traub was in attendance to watch and cheer us on.  Dave and Larry had brought their wives along….I was stuck rooming with Chad…..

The event was great fun and I’ve already talked about the Guinness caber toss record.  This was a three day event and it worked out where I could help Chad in the morning sessions when he threw and he could help me in the afternoon sessions.  I know for a fact Chad helped me out and I hope he found me helpful as well.  We would video each other throwing and assess mistakes and changes.

Chad Ullom between Wilbur Stam and Tommy DeBruijn....and Chad beat them both in the caber!

Chad was 4th in what I would call one of the toughest 40-44 age groups I’ve ever seen.  He had former champ Mike Dickens to deal with as well as 6’10” Tommy DeBruijn.  Chad did extremely well against a field of some 20 throwers.  His best event was the caber toss where he was one of only three in his group to turn the caber.  He was in a dead tie going into the third and final attempt and ended up 2nd by a fraction.  I have to say in my opinion I thought he won it….but they didn’t let me judge!  It was that close.

I was in the 50-54 age group and I was dealing with two of the all time Scottish greats….Mark McDonald and Allister Gunn.  Both former pros and it was no contest with 18 throwers in my group about who would be in the top two.  Allister pulled out a close victory and the rest of use were really contending for 3rd.  I was very pleased to have my 2nd best finish ever with a 5th.  However, what really made my trip was winning the Weight Over Bar event for the 4th time at the World’s.   I really thought I had no chance at beating the two legendary Scots but it ended up being my day!  Chad was a big help spotting for me and keeping me focused.  I get deservedly kidded for focusing on this event but I love it and I won’t apologize for enjoying my win even if it’s just one event!

Thom Van Vleck winning the WOB event.

I know Dave was in a very tough group.  It was great to see him in Scotland with Larry.  Dave’s best events were the hammers where he placed 4th in both the light and heavy.  He was also 5th in the Heavy weight for distance.  Dave was in the 60-64 age group…..Which had THREE former or current World Champs in his group….by far the toughest in my opinion relative to the competition and age. I think Dave would be at the top had he not blown both quads a few years back.  I think he’s an amazing story recovering from that injury and coming back to throw well enough to contend for the podium.

Next year the World’s are slated for St. Louis, Missouri…back in the USA!  Looking forward to it all ready!

Tomatin Toss

by Thom Van Vleck

All lined up for the "Tomatin Toss" which was an attempt to break the Guinness Word Record for a mass caber toss! photo by Chad Ullom

USAWA members Chad Ullom and myself recently took a trip to Inverness, Scotland to take part in the Masters World Championship of Highland Games.  I will report on that later, but first I wanted to tell you about an exciting event Chad and I got to take part in.

There is a Guinness World Record for simultaneous Caber tossing and it stood at 53 Cabers.  Cabers are “logs” or “telephone poles” that are stood on end and the athlete has to pick it up, run with it, and flip it end over end for an “official turn”.  The previous record was held by a Highland Games in Fergus, Canada.  After the Games in Inverness we were invited with some 126 other throwers to try and break this record.  I have to be honest at this point and admit that Chad and I had some reservations regarding this as it could be quite dangerous with 126 logs flying through the air at once.  Previous attempts were very dicey!  But, in the end, we couldn’t pass up the chance to take part.

Tomatin Scotch Distillery was sponsoring the event so it was call the “Tomatin Toss”.

As we set up the sun was setting.  An official from Guinness had been flown in and he appeared to be a very proper Englishman!  He walked around with his head up and seemed to be scrutinizing everyone and everything!  We lined up on two sides and were throwing at one another….we had to question that!  There was a truck with a big screen TV at the end televising the event.  We had to wait for what seemed to be forever to get the “go”.

The instructions we received were a bit vague and this led to some confusion.  It’s tough enough to turn a caber but to do it on cue….well…that’s a real trick.  Chad is a master at the caber and I feel pretty confident with it myself.  I was only one of 6 that turned the caber in by age group of 20 athletes who were all proficient with the caber.  Still, it was a tall order!  The cabers were also not well made, as they were made for a “one time” turn.  This is NOT to say they preparation was poor…just that the cabers had been cut over the past 6 months and some had dried too much!  Chad and I knew we could have a caber snap on us and when that happens you never know what will happen.

Finally, we got a countdown.  As I began to “pick” (lift the caber into the tossing position) I had to simply focus on my caber and no one elses.  This put me at the total trust of the athletes around me that they wouldn’t lose control and dump it on my head.  As I heard the announcer hit “one” I ran up the caber and at zero gave it a pull….and much to my own pleasure it went flying over.  I glanced to my right and saw that Chad had successfully turned his and as it hit the ground it snapped in half!

While 126 had attempted and we only needed 54 for the record it was apparent as I looked around we might have a problem.  Many of the athletes were not as adept at the caber and had failed to get a turn.  Others had misjudged the timing and while they turned the caber it was not “simultaneous” with the rest.  The video was reviewed over and over and we were asked to stay in position as the judges reviewed the video and scored each turn individually.  The Guinness judge made his way up and down the field repeatedly…..about a half an hour went by and we were beginning to wonder if we had done it!

Finally, the Guinness judge took the microphone….and he did milk it a bit….but in the end he declared we had broken the record with 66 successful turns.  We all immediately headed to the beer tent to celebrate….not just the Guinness record…but the weekend as a whole.  I was really actually pretty glad to just survive the whole thing.  I remember as a kid reading the Guinness record book and wondering if I would ever be a part of it….and now I am!

Team Championships

by Al Myers


Group picture from the 2014 USAWA Team Championships (left to right): LaVerne Myers, Al Myers, Chad Ullom, and Dean Ross.

I started promoting the USAWA Team Championships in 2007, so this year makes it the 8th year! I remember thinking this would become a popular meet amongst the lifters because it gave a different element to lifting than other meets -that being you lifted “on the bar” with a team mate! Well, in these 8 years it has not seemed to grow as I imagined back then, but none the less, always gives an entertaining day of lifting.  This year Chad and I again competed to “defend our title” from last year, and were challenged by the Dino Gym elders LaVerne Myers and Dean Ross.  These two team up well in size and lifting ability, plus have “been around the block a time or two” so they know how to play dirty.  I knew they would give us a good fight.  That was true.  Dean employed various means of chemical warfare against us, while LaVerne used mental persuasion to get us to swap out a lift for another to give them a competitive advantage.  When Chad and I was still dizzy from the nerve gas that Dean imposed upon us, we agreed to this request of LaVerne’s without contention.  Their teamwork was in full force before the meet even started!

So the Clean and Jerk with the Fulton Bar AND the Jefferson Lift was replaced by the Deadlift with the Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip.  And as it turned out – the meet came down to this last lift.  LaVerne and Dean pulled together an outstanding lift of 551 pounds!  I knew with their added age allowance this was going to make us really push ourselves.   But thankfully, my partner didn’t let me down and Chad and I pulled a PR of 672# for the win and a new Dino Gym Record (breaking our previous record of 640#).

This may have been a small meet, but we had a lot of fun in the gym today.  The meet even got over quick so the meet report/results is being posted on the same day as the meet.  That might be a first!


2014 USAWA Team Championships
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
August 24th, 2014

Meet Director: Al Myers

Officials (1 official system used): Al Myers, Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers

Lifts: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Curl – Cheat, Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip


Dino Gym 1
Dean Ross – 71 years old, 267 pounds
LaVerne Myers – 71 years old, 247 pounds

Dino Gym 2
Al Myers – 48 years old, 236 pounds
Chad Ullom – 42 years old, 253 pounds

Dino Gym 2 105 165 305 575 467.1
Dino Gym 1 40 105 250 395 400.2

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in kilograms.  TOTAL is total kilograms lifted.  Points are adjusted points for age and bodyweight corrections.

National Championships

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
Macomb, Illinois

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


Lifter Age BWT CR SN C&P Jeff Curl Zer TOT PTS
Chad Ullom 42 253 45.5 71 R 120 230 100 170 737 598.2
Randy Smith 59 195 36.3 40 R 70 155 80 137.5 519 564.1
Eric    Todd 39 257 45.5 57.5 R 115 200 92.5 170 681 532.5
Tim Piper 44 197 36.3 50 R 90 155 75 130 536 506.7
Logan Kressly 16 172 27.2 35 R 60 160 60 115 457 490.5
Denny Habecker 71 194 27.2 30 R 65 115 52.5 90 380 454.7
Dean Ross 71 269 22.7 25 R 40 130 40 100 358 361.1
Art Montini 86 175 13.6 7.5 R 30 85 30 70 236 334.4
Dennis Mitchell 82 152 9.1 10 L 20 80 30 60 209 315.7
Lance Foster 48 325 18.1 30 R 75 150 70 0 343 261.5


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 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)

Chad Ullom: All Around All Rounder!

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad turns another caber!

Chad Ullom has been a fixture in the USAWA and IAWA for some time.  He is a National and World Champ and has a slug of records to his credit.  You would think that would be enough to keep him busy but Chad is also a regular on the Highland Games circuit!  At one time Chad was a top rated Amateur in Highland Games and regularly won many “A” class Amateur competitions.

A couple years ago Chad turned 40 and as with most of us who threw A class and got older he found himself being beat out by the next generation and soon was competing (and winning) in the the masters category.  There was even and younger thrower named Chad Gustin from Lawrence that came along and he soon became “New Chad” and Ullom became….alas…”OLD CHAD”.  Anyone over 40 knows the feeling.

Well….”Old Chad” dusted off the age last weekend at the  2014 Kansas City Scottish Highland Games and threw with the A class again.  He was by far the oldest in the group but that wasn’t a factor at all.  I was the announcer at the games and had a front seat for all of it.  Chad began to win or place well in events and soon he was dominating the field.  Chad won handily.   Chad will tell you it was not the strongest field KC has ever seen but I think all you have to do is look at some of his throws and see that Chad was in top form.  For example, Chad had only cleared 14ft in the 56lb WOB  once in his 19 year Highland Games career….but he cleared it last Saturday!  And almost went higher!

I have to tell you, I found myself being the longest tenured athlete on the field that day going into my 20th season.  It was nice to see one of the “old” guys take it to the younger men.  Chad came back on Sunday and threw masters and easily won again.  It was quite a weekend.  Other USAWA members on the field included Dean Ross and myself.  We all plan on being at Nationals this coming weekend.

Great job to Chad and maybe there’s something to training like an “all-rounder”!

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