Tag Archives: Chuck Cookson

Dino Gym Challenge

by Al Myers


Group picture of the participants in the 2013 Dino Gym Challenge.


I was expecting maybe 10 or 12 lifters for the annual Dino Gym Challenge – but then to my amazement lifters kept showing up and showing up!!  The total number of entrants came to 21 lifters!!!!  That’s only a few off what entered the World Meet that I promoted last fall!!!  I was very excited to see this, as it shows the interest that lifters have in the “new” Old Time Strongman Competitions.  This meet was promoted as an “Old Time Strongman Powerlifting Meet” because it contained three OTSM lifts that are partial-lift deviations of the three powerlifts (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift).  The meet included two Official OTSM lifts (the Anderson Squat and the Peoples Deadlift) as well as one exhibition lift (the Hackenschmidt Floor Press).  The Hack FP  “went over” really real with the lifters and I hope that it will become approved as an official OTSM lift this year. 

The three officials of the Dino Gym Challenge holding their souvenir beer mugs - complete with Dino Gym logo!! These mugs were given as the awards to all participants. (left to right: Chad Ullom, Thom Van Vleck, LaVerne Myers)

One thing that I GREATLY appreciate with the Dino Gym members is how we always “come together” to support each other in our promoted events.  Putting on any competition requires lots of “behind the scenes” work, and manpower on the day of the event. Even though we had more lifters show up than expected, things ran very smoothly because there was enough “helpers” to make it happen.   Often after meets the attention is always on the lifting performances, but things wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for those facilitating the meet.  In this meet report I want to mention these guys first (they’re often the last mentioned).  The USAWA OTSM Chairman Thom Van Vleck is first on my list to thank.  Thom has been promoting the yearly OTSM Championships, and he has made a effort to be at most ALL of the OTSM meets in the USAWA, offering leadership and support.  He took on the hardest event to officiate (the Anderson Squat) for the day.  Chad Ullom, who normally doesn’t miss an opportunity to compete, sat this one out so he could be one of the needed officials of the day.  He officiated the Peoples Deadlift as well as loaded that event the entire day.  LaVerne Myers officiated the new OTSM event, the  Hackenschmidt Floor Press.  LaVerne has been a very important official in the club, and does an outstanding job.  He is very professional in his officiating and keeps things on pace.  His group finished before Chad’s and Thom’s in every rotation!!!  I also want to thank Mike Murdock and Tyler Cookson for helping spot and load throughout the day.  This help allowed me to focus on the daily details, keeping the scores updated, and taking lots of pictures.  Finally, I want to mention and thank my wife Leslie who made the lunch for everyone and puts up with me for stressing over every “little detail”. 

Dan Wagman pressing 435 pounds, which was the top Hackenschmidt Floor Press of the meet.

Now onto the lifting performances.  The IAWA World Champs Dan Wagman and Ruth Jackson made their appearance from Colorado, and added another overall victory to their USAWA resumes. Both performed outstanding in all of these OTSM events.  Dan “put up” the top Hackenschmidt Floor Press of the day with 435 pounds. Newcomer Mike McIntyre lifted 410 pounds in the FP.  Mike is a member of the JWC, and at 29 years of age, has his best lifting years still ahead of him.  KC Strongman Eric Todd also lifted 410 pounds in the FP.  That’s THREE lifters over 400 pounds!!! 

I was very interested to see the big lifts in the Anderson Squat. I was hoping to see several lifts over 800 pounds – and that I did!! Eric Todd became the first USAWA lifter to ever go over 900 pounds (with a lift of 903#).  ET has been “making his name known” in the USAWA this past year with winning the Heavy Lift Champs last spring, and setting the ALL TIME neck lift record at Worlds.  His second place finish in this stellar-packed field of lifters show that he is also a top contender in any future OTSM competition.  John O’Brien of the JWC upped his personal record in the Anderson Squat to 810 pounds. I want to mention that John did this after losing over 30 pounds of bodyweight. This bodyweight loss while maintaining his same strength helped him with the formula adjustment and aided him to get third place overall at this meet. I say this because he “just edged” out Alan English by one point!!!   Alan is a Dino Gym member who I have FINALLY got to compete in an USAWA competition. He is a gifted strength athlete who has lots of strongman victories to his name.  I hope that this meet has inspired him to compete more in the USAWA, because if he does, you will see several great things out of him in the future.  Rounding out the top five was another Dino Gym member, Scott Campbell.  Scott finished off his day with the second highest Anderson Squat, with a lift of 881 pounds.  Scott is a seasoned Highland Game Athlete who has strength that he doesn’t really know he has. 

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson had the top Peoples Deadlift of the meet with this 800 pound lift!

I got a couple of other lifters that I want to mention.  First – Chuck Cookson.  Chuck started the meet off by putting up the top Peoples Deadlift of the day – 800 pounds!!!  However, he opened a little too high on the Anderson Squat (800 pounds!!!) and couldn’t get a lift in.  If he would have got in an Anderson Squat, he would have placed much higher in the overall.  I want to thank Art Montini and Denny Habecker for making the trip from Pennsylvania to compete.  It’s always inspiring to watch these two lift in meets.  I would like to know how many USAWA meets these two have competed in throughout the years. They seem to always be at USAWA events, and have been doing this for 25 years!!! I really doubt if there are very many other lifters in the USAWA that have competed as many times as these two.  I want to thank a couple of Jobe Steel Jungle lifters who made the trip – Tim Songster and Dan Bunch. I really appreciate it when lifters travel to my meets from out of state. This includes Dean Ross from Oklahoma.  I did a quick count and lifters from six states competed in this meet.  That’s simply amazing!!!

As always, I still have lots more to report on but I got to draw a conclusion to my meet report at some point.  Tomorrow I’ll reveal the results from the challenge between the Dino Gym and the Hoghton Barbell Club.  Also, I still have the results from the shooting competition that went on after the meet to report on. That’ll be coming later this week.  Again, I want to thank EVERYONE who competed, helped out, or just showed up to watch.  This will go down as one of the best Dino Gym Challenges of ALL TIME. 


Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Meet Director:  Al Myers

Officials (1 official system used):  Thom Van Vleck, Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers

Scorekeeper:  Al Myers

Loaders:  Tyler Cookson, Mike Murdock

Lifts:  Anderson Squat, Hackenschmidt Floor Press, Peoples Deadlift


Ruth Jackson 51 107 286 160 319 765 1180.1
Jera Kressly 28 219 319 0 379 698 593.2


Ruth Jackson: Anderson Squat 308#
Ruth Jackson: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 180#
Jera Kressly: Anderson Squat 352#
Jera Kressly:  Peoples Deadlift 399#


Dan Wagman 50 185 738 435 677 1850 1917.6
Eric Todd 38 262 903 410 717 2030 1573.1
John O’Brien 44 262 810 380 554 1744 1419.0
Alan English 29 231 694 320 702 1716 1418.1
Scott Campbell 38 287 881 325 654 1860  1378.8
Mark Mitchell 52 316 672 365 624 1661 1329.4
Tim Songster Sr. 45 205 501 285 554 1340 1251.8
Mike McIntyre 29 273 600 410 604 1614 1225.5
Darren Barnhart 45 302 628 340 624 1592 1221.1
Dave Glasgow 59 252 507 250 504 1261 1195.4
Doug Kressly 33  276 540 320 604 1464 1106.1
Scott Tully 37 313  600 320 604 1524 1086.2
Dan Bunch 48 360 551 275 624 1450 1055.3
Denny Habecker 70 198 331 215 349 895 1052.9
Dean Ross 70 273 402 180 379 961 955.9
Ben Edwards 37 217 440 225 449 1114 951.4
Art Montini 85 175 209 120 306 635 895.2
Chuck Cookson 43  275 0 300 800 1100  865.7
Lance Foster 47 330  402 180 554 1136 851.9


Denny Habecker:  Anderson Squat 352#
Denny Habecker: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 225#
Denny Habecker: Peoples Deadlift 369#
Dan Bunch: Peoples Deadlift 649#
Dan Wagman: Anderson Squat 782#
Dan Wagman:  Peoples Deadlift 707#
Dean Ross: Peoples Deadlift 399#
Lance Foster: Hackenschmidt Floor Press 190#


Dan Wagman: Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip 204#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 2″, Left Hand 180#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Left Hand 217#
Dan Wagman: Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar, 1″, Right Hand 217#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Right Arm 44#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Left Arm 44#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Feet in Air 110#
Ruth Jackson: Bench Press – Hands Together 93.5#
Ruth Jackson: Holdout – Raised 33#
Ruth Jackson: Holdout – Lowered 33#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Right Arm 181.75#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Left Arm 181.75#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Right Arm 90#
Ruth Jackson: Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Left Arm 90#

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

French Press

by Al Myers

Chuck Cookson performing an ALL TIME best USAWA record of 207 pounds in the French Press at the 2012 Dino Gym Record Day. Take notice that Chuck has the perfect arm length to do this lift, and that his elbows are not even above his head when extended straight up!

This is an official lift of both the USAWA and the IAWA.  Amazingly, the rules are the SAME as well as the lift is named the SAME.  That is a rarity between USAWA and IAWA lifts!! However, that is about the ONLY THING I like about the French Press!  I wish I knew more about how this lift came about and who was responsible for writing the original rules on it. They must have been written by a cruel person who likes to see lifters FAIL at performing a lift! The rules for this lift are written in a way that MOST lifters can’t even perform a French Press according to them.  For a lift so simple in concept – these rules seem to me to be “over the top” for the French Press. I do know it has been around for quite a while as an all-round lift as it is represented in the old Missouri Valley Record List.  The oldest record in the Mo-Valley list is held by Homer Lewellen of Columbia, Missouri who did a French Press of 185 pounds in 1962 in the 198 class.  Other good marks in this record list were by Jim Charlton and Wayne Jackson.  I just assume they were done with the same rules as we have today, as this lift was one of the original 110.

The USAWA Rules for the French Press

A25.   French Press

The bar is brought from the platform to an overhead position by any method to assume the starting position of this lift. The lifter’s arms must be straight, the lifter standing, and the body upright before the start of the lift. Width of feet placement is optional.  Once the bar is overhead and motionless, with the lifter’s arms straight, the lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The hand spacing on the bar must not exceed 6 inches. The palms of the hands must be facing away from the lifter. The lifter will bend the arms and lower the bar until the bar touches the base of the neck at the junction of the shoulders without lowering the upper arms. The elbows must remain above the top of the head. Once the bar is on the base of the neck, an official will give the command to press.  The elbows must not be lowered during any part of the press or it will be a disqualification. The legs must remain straight during the lift. There must not be any backbend, any bending of the knees, or movement of the feet during the lift. The heels and toes must not rise.  Once the bar has been pressed, the arms straight and the bar motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift. The bar may be lowered by any method.

READ THE ABOVE RULE CAREFULLY as I know most USAWA lifters are not familiar with the legal nuances of this lift.  As I’ve said – I don’t like the rules for the French Press.  I have done French Presses in training in the past and the exercise I do (as well as most of my training partners) is NOTHING like the French Press described above!   These rules are so restrictive that it prevents most lifters from even being capable of performing a legal French Press.  Also, it is a terrible lift to judge – invaribly a lifters elbows drop to some degree and it makes for very subjective judging.  If it is in a meet at least half of the lifters can’t even do a legal lift correctly, so the judging gets lax (and not in accordance with the written rules) just so lifters won’t “bomb out” on the lift.  The French Press has been in one National Championship (2005), and if I have any say in it, that will be the last and only one that the French Press will be in.  

However, like I said, the French Press is a great training lift for the shoulders and triceps if done differently. A wider grip, descending to only the back of the head, with a slight elbow drop allows for natural movement and normal shoulder rotation.  The 6 inch grip width creates most of the problems, especially on a straight bar.  Also, requiring the bar to touch the BASE of the neck creates issues if a lifters arm length is not of the correct proportions.  I guess I just don’t understand why the rules for the French Press are written this way when the practicality of performing it in training is so much different?  

However, at the Dino Gym Record Day I was proved wrong on many accounts when Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson performed a legal French Press of 207 pounds while maintaining PERFECT legal form.   This record of Chuck’s is the top ALL TIME in the USAWA, besting Ernie Beaths mark of 200 pounds.  I judged Chuck’s French Press and made sure it was done strictly in accordance with the rules.  He has perfect body mechanics and limb lengths to do this lift with perfection.   So – I guess I now feel the the French Press is a good lift because I know SOMEONE who can do it right! A Lot of the other USAWA lifts are also in the category of the French Press, ie Van Dam Lift, Mansfield, Zeigler, etc.   I guess I feel if someone can do them correctly and excel in them, these lifts should be available to allow these few lifters to show their abilities in these difficult lifts at record days (But NOT in meets!!).

Good versus Evil

by Al Myers

Dino Gym member Chuck Cookson lifts the Dino/JWC Challenge Wheels overhead.

Last weekend after the Dino Gym Challenge, we pulled out the “Dino/JWC Challenge Wheels” for a little impromptu competition between a few of us.  That seems to always happens after any meet at the Dino Gym.  Often the real competition (for bragging rights) happens after the official competition took place!  I’ve been saving this little challenge for a special moment like this. Last fall Thom Van Vleck gave me a set of train cart wheels with a rotating 2″ axle between them.  It was off of an old-style push cart so the train wheels are much smaller than regular train wheels.  This was the “matching set” to the cart wheels I gave Thom last summer at Nationals (I’ll let him tell that story).  Thom really fixed up this Challenge Wheels for me – one side is painted Dino Blue with the  Dino Gym name painted on them, and the other side is painted JWC Black with the JWC name painted on them.  Half of the axle is painted blue, while the other half of the axle in painted black.  It looks quite spectacular in appearance!

These Challenge Wheels will become a centerpiece of the Dino Gym, as they hang from the ceiling.

One day when I was looking at it in the gym I thought how symbolic these Challenge Wheels are.  The black representing the “dark side” of lifting while the blue representing  all the things good in lifting (I should mention that blue is a very patriotic color). Weightlifting is the constant battle of “Good vs. Evil”.   At times when I’m lifting I really feel like the weights are my enemy, and in order to win the battle I must lift them.  It often requires me to give peak performance to accomplish this goal in front of me, and takes me to my limits of physical ability. So in other words, the weights (the evil) brings out the best in me (the good).   Now before you start thinking that the Dino Man has finally “lost his marbles”, think about this for awhile. Why do YOU LIFT WEIGHTS?  It’s not about the trophies or awards, it’s much more than that. It’s about the sense of  “conquering the iron” that makes you keep coming back for more.   I sure don’t lift weights for my health either.  If that was the case, I wouldn’t want ANY  PART of some of these dangerous all round lifts and would buy myself a bow flex instead.   

It gave me great satisfaction to lift the Challenge Wheels.  Several of the other gym members lifted them as well.  BIG POPPA Mark Mitchell strict pressed them at least a dozen times to top all of us. I have no idea what this challenge weighs, or really care to know. That’s not the point of it. Afterwards, these Challenge Wheels got hung from the ceiling and will reside there until the next lifter wants to “take a shot at it”.  It will become a centerpiece in the Dino Gym for all to see, and hopefully, will inspire others.  

(AUTHOR’S  NOTE:  In no way do I intend to imply that the JWC is evil because the JWC worships the color black and trains under ground level in a dark  basement dungeon.  The Dino Gym considers the JWC as a friendly rival, and much appreciates this wonderful gift from them.)

Eastern Open Postal

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS – The 2011 Eastern Open Postal Meet


Chuck Cookson put up a big 12" Base Squat in the 2011 Eastern Open Postal Meet. His squat of 600 pounds is the top lift of ALL-TIME in the USAWA Record List. This postal meet drew 19 competitors, which according to Meet Director John Wilmot, is the most he has ever had in one of his postal meets. John has been coordinating the USAWA Postal Series Meets the past several years.


Eastern Open Postal Meet
March 1-31st, 2011

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts Contested:  Bench Press – Alternate Grip, Squat – 12″ Base, Deadlift – Dumbbell, One Arm

Lifters using 3 Certified Officials:

Denny Habecker – Officials Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, John McKean
John McKean – Officials Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker
Art Montini – Officials  John McKean, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker
Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Jonathon Ciavattone –  Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Kohl Hess – Officials Art Montini, John McKean, Scott Schmidt
Al Myers – Officials Mark Mitchell, Scott Tully, Darren Barnhart
Darren Barnhart – Officials Al Myers, Scott Tully, Mark Mitchell
Scott Tully – Officials Al Myers, Darren Barnhart, Mark Mitchell
Chuck Cookson – Offiicals Al Myers, Scott Tully, Mark Mitchell

Lifters using 1 Certified Official:

Mike Murdock – Official Thom Van Vleck
Helen Kahn – Official Randy Smith
Randy Smith – Official Helen Kahn
Scott Campbell – Offiicial Al Myers
Chad Ullom – Official Al Myers
Dave Beversdorf – Official  Joe Garcia

Lifters using a judge who is not a certified official:

Orie Barnett –  Sam Rogers
John Wilmot – Kay Wilmot


Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL-DB Total Points
Helen Kahn 59 161 70 115 101-R 296 361.6


Lifter Age BWT BP SQ DL-DB Total Points
Al Myers 44 251 335 507 395-R 1237 1028.4
Chuck Cookson 41 274 300 600 305-R 1205 932.4
Chad Ullom 39 240 275 440 350-R 1065 862.8
Orie Barnett 50 228 251 427 255-R 933 860.6
Dave Beversdorf 45 300 400 500 205-R 1105 850.2
Randy Smith 56 196 195 300 281-R  776 819.6 
Scott Campbell  36  302  275  500  300-L  1075  777.9 
Joe Ciavattone Jr.  17  220  260  385  222-R  867  772.1 
Joe Ciavattone Sr.  42 254  325  315  272-R  912  739.5 
Denny Habecker  68  188  165  265  182-R  612  730.7
Scott Tully  35 345 350  440  210-R  1000 710.9
Darren Barnhart 43 290 280 330  310-R  920  705.6
Kohl Hess  16 285  175  385  277-R 837  684.8
John McKean  65  175  145  175  222-R  542  659.4 
Jonathon Ciavattone 16  234 210 255  222-R  687  620.2 
MIke Murdock  71  231  175  220  158-L  553  602.7 
John Wilmot  64 219  145  225  160-R  530  563.1 
Art Montini  83  179  80  135  149-R  364  499.4 

Notes:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds. R and L stand for right and left.  Total is total pounds lifted.  Points are adjusted for age and bodyweight.

Goddard Postal

by Steve Gardner


The Andy Goddard Tribute Lifts Postal 2011

Chuck Cookson, of the Dino Gym, had the top Jefferson Lift (Straddle Deadlift) of the Goddard Postal Meet with a lift of 622 pounds.

32 lifters took part in the Andy Goddard tribute postal competition, and what a good competition it turned out to be, thanks to all the lifters from the USA and the UK who supported the event. Below is a list of best lifter results.  The two lifts contested were the  Alternate Grip Bench Press  and the Straddle Deadlift.

Alternate Grip Bench Press – Top Ten Lifters

  1. Mark Price – Powerhouse Gym, England
  2. Al Myers – Dino Gym, United States
  3. Mark Haydock – Hoghton Barbell Club, England
  4. Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Joe’s Gym, United States
  5. Scott Tully – Dino Gym, United States
  6. Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Joe’s Gym, United States
  7. Gary Ell – Tiverton WL Club, England
  8. Chuck Cookson – Dino Gym, United States
  9. Chad Ullom – Dino Gym, United States
  10. Steve Gardner – Powerhouse Gym, England


Straddle Deadlift – Top Ten Lifters

  1. Al Myers – Dino Gym, United States
  2. Chuck Cookson – Dino Gym, United States
  3. Joe Ciavattone Jr.  – Joe’s Gym, United States
  4. Kai Holland – Tiverton WL Club, England
  5. Mark Haydock – Hoghton Barbell Club, England
  6. Mark Rattenbury – Tiverton WL Club, England
  7. Graham Saxton – Powerhouse Gym, England
  8. James Gardner – Powerhouse Gym, England
  9. Jonny Eccleshall –  Powerhouse Gym, England
  10. Chad Ullom – Dino Gym, United States


Total – Top Ten Lifters

  1. Al Myers – Dino Gym, United States
  2. Chuck Cookson – Dino Gym, United States
  3. Mark Price – Powerhouse Gym, England
  4. Mark Haydock – Hoghton Barbell Club, England
  5. Joe Ciavattone Jr. – Joe’s Gym, United States
  6. Chad Ullom – Dino Gym, United States
  7. Mark Rattenbury – Tiverton WL Club, England
  8. Graham Saxton – Powerhouse Gym, England
  9. Gary Ell – Tiverton WL Club, England
  10. Joe Ciavattone Sr. – Joe’s Gym, United States


Best Club Result (Top 3 Performers)

  1. Dino Gym:  Myers, Cookson, Ullom – 963.3 pts
  2. Powerhouse Gym:  Price, Saxton, Gardner – 876.4 pts
  3. Joe’s Gym:  Ciavattones, Joe Sr., Joe Jr., Jonathon – 837.8 pts
  4. Tiverton:  Rattenbury, Ell, Holland – 826.1 pts
  5. Granby Grippers:  Allen, Andrews, Godleman – 797.7 pts


Best Junior Performance – Joe Ciavattone Jr.

Best Female Performance – Karen Gardner

Best Open Performance – Mark Haydock

Best Master Performance – Al Myers

Best Overall Lifter – Al Myers

For the complete results –  ANDY GOD2011

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