Tag Archives: Club Challenge


by Al Myers


I just received word from John McKean, the Meet Director of this weekend’s USAWA Club Challenge, that he is cancelling the meet.  John has concerns of the recent bad weather and poor road conditions, and does not want to risk anyone’s travel.  The weather has been unpredictable recently, and the roads could quickly become hazardous for travel.

Please pass this information along to anyone that may have planned to attend the Club Championships.

Club Challenge

by Al Myers



Meet director John McKean "in action" at last years Club Challenge under the watchful eyes of Art Montini and Rudy Bletscher.

The date for the USAWA Club Challenge has been set!  This meet has become the premier meet in the USAWA which features club (or team) competition. It is unique in that it is NOT a personal competition, but instead a 3-person competition of the representatives of each club.  The scores from each lifter are added together to form a club score.  No individual recognition is given in this meet.   The winning club has the bragging rights of having the “top performing” club in the USAWA for the year.  

John McKean, of the Ambridge Barbell Club, has been the meet director for this meet since it’s beginning.  The Ambridge BBC is one of the longest standing clubs in the USAWA, and has had club membership in the USAWA since 1993.  Only Clarks Gym has a longer running membership status.  The patriarch of the Ambridge Barbell Club, Art Montini, has been one of the most influential men in the history of the USAWA.

Eventually I would like to see each entered club in this challenge consisting of only club members (as identified on the membership roster).  This way the challenge would truly represent each individual club performance. However so far, this has not been required for entry into the Club Challenge.   So if two clubs want to “come together” to field a team, that is allowable.  You may also enter if you can’t be part of a three-person team, but when the scoring is done you will be at a disadvantage because the scoring is based on three individuals and it will be difficult to “single handily” compete against the scores of three.


Date: Saturday, March 2nd

Venue: Ambridge BBC

Meet Directors: John McKean & Art Montini

Entry Fee: None

Start Time: 1:00 PM

Sanction: USAWA


Bench Press – Fulton Bar

Peoples Deadlift

Bent Over Row

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John McKean.

Club Challenge

by John McKean


Group picture from 2012 USAWA Club Challenge. (front left to right): Rudy Bletscher, John McKean, Roger LaPointe, Art Montini (back left to right): Chad Ullom, Al Myers, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker, Andy Root

For me the first REAL day of Spring began with the bright, beaming smiles of Scott, Denny, Al, Chad, and Rudy as they bounded into the cave-like Ambridge VFW gym to get Art & me out of hibernation! Heck, just the day before it still looked like a typical Western Pennsylvania winter, with gray skies, wind, and snow flurries! Yet the Saturday team challenge had nothing but warming sunshine and crisp, crystal blue skies, which seemed to shout “Get off your lazy butts, it’s time for renewed vigor, a day for record setting!”

First in was an always energetic Roger LaPointe of the Atomic Athletic club from Bowling Green, Ohio. Rog presented each of us with outstanding “old tyme” posters of his upcoming Heavy Lift Championships in May, and was the “early bird” (no, we didn’t give him a worm!) onto the lifting platform. Roger wanted to “warm up” for the main team event by performing a series of record lifts of his specialties with various Olympic style lifts. As usual, his form was crisp and snappy, even inspiring this old achy author to wake up and get in a few records to alert my aging excuse of a body that serious activity was just ahead !

Despite a local bridge having just been closed, Art and Denny zoomed over to the Pittsburgh airport to fetch Al, Chad, and Rudy. Promptly at 11:50 the 3 Kansas stalwarts popped out of the gates, took the speedy drive (Art was at the wheel!) over the Ohio River, and set a new team record in getting ready to lift in the locker room. I swear they flew over in their singlets and warmed up on the jet! (These guys KNOW how to prepare for away meets – they seem to travel somewhere every weekend!).

Club Challenge Meet Director John McKean performing a one arm dumbbell swing of 55 pounds.

Andy Root, from nearby New Castle, showed up to treat us to his outstandingly powerful brand of all-round lifting. Andy, you may recall, first appeared last year at Art’s Birthday Bash, with his heart set on his initial USAWA lift to be the Inman Mile (we talked him out of it, and injuries prevented him from trying it today!!). Andy couldn’t coerce team mates to attend with him this time, though. Girlfriend Angela came along, but she was in serious training for a power meet in Ohio next month to perform a world record bench press of 240 pounds at a mere 123 #bwt! We tried & tried, but couldn’t convince the lovely little lady – a very determined and focused powerlifter – to lift today. Fortunately, in putting meet certificates together for the challenge, my wife Marilyn had created an award, “just in case”, for a “team” of one – the “Man Alone” award, which Andy took home!

Phil Rosenstern from our Ambridge club was in for his Saturday workout with his son. Like last year, he didn’t know a USAWA meet was going on. So he promptly entered in order to set a new “Reeves Deadlift” record. As one of the country’s top flight deadlifters for years, Phil made easy work of this difficult lift!  He must have inspired team mate Art, who sure never shows his almost 85 years – except, of course, for his characteristic surliness!! Art is already preparing for the Nationals, World’s, and his Birthday Bash!!

It was a sight as Art, Rudy, and I were performing our pullover and press lifts on our own separate platform. The lifts weren’t difficult, but getting each of us old timers back upright off the platform after attempts required the combined efforts of the other two!! I noted, however, that Rudy sure was spry and strong on his swing and hack lifts!

As expected, the big boys, Chad and Al, dominated the heavy lifts. Both showed amazing splitting form in heavy one arm swings, and huge stacking of plates for hack lifts. Chad in particular had bulked up, looking so big that I suspect the guys didn’t really take a jet at all – they just sat on Chad’s massive back and let him flap his huge arms to literally “fly” over from the mid-west! (Ground observers would’ve reported a gigantic “bald eagle” flying above!).

A fine, but all-too-quick day of lifting was punctuated with the annual trip down to the famous Maple Restaurant, home of the proclaimed best hot roast beef sandwich in the country (before we even started lifting, visibly salivating at the mouth, Al told me we could go to ANY restaurant afterwards -except pure vegetarian(!!) – as long as such a place served that fantastic rich beef gravy & gallons of it!). This year, for the first time ever, ALL lifters in the challenge attended the dinner!! And then Sunday we’re on Daylight Savings Time – Spring has truly sprung!!


USAWA Club Challenge
Ambridge Barbell Club
Ambridge, PA
March 10th, 2012

Meet Director: John McKean

Officials (3 official system used): John McKean, Art Montini, Scott Schmidt, Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Chad Ullom

Lifts: Pullover and Press, Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm, Hack Lift

1. Dino Gym – 2047.0 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
Al Myers 45 247 320 140R 540
Chad UIlom 40 255 310 150R 490
Rudy Bletscher 76 218 108 55R 220

2.  Atomic Athletic – 1992.0 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
Roger LaPointe 40 165 154 80L 300
Denny Habecker 69 191 194 75R 270
Andy Root 31 180 245 98R 510

3.  Ambridge VFW BBC – 1666.9 adjusted points

Lifter Age BWT P&P Swing Hack
John McKean 66 172 148 55R 330
Art Montini 84 184 118 35L 200
Scott Schmidt 59 246 209 88R 253

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds. Adjusted points is the total adjusted points for all team lifters, adjusted for bodyweight and age. L and R designate the arm used in DB swing.


John McKean: Curl – Reverse Grip 100#
John McKean: Bent Over Row 202#
John McKean: Pullover – Bent Arm 80#
Roger LaPointe: Snatch – Fulton Bar 99#
Roger LaPointe:  Clean and Press – Fulton Bar 127#
Roger LaPointe: Clean and Push Press – Fulton Bar 127#
Roger LaPointe: Snatch – From Hang 152#
Chad Ullom: Swing – Dumbbell, Left Arm 120#
Chad Ullom: Squat – Front 425#
Phil Rosenstern: Deadlift – Reeves 355#
(58 years old, 198# BWT)

Club Challenge

by Al Myers


The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club will be the hosts for the 2012 USAWA Club Challenge.

It’s hard to believe but this will be the THIRD YEAR for the USAWA Club Challenge.  It seems like just yesterday that John McKean and myself  “dreamed up” this meet, and now I would have to say that it has become one of the most prestigious meets on our calendar.  This meet will again be held on the second weekend of March, as it has been the last two years.  The Ambridge BBC will be the hosts again – directed by the Ambridge BBC FATHERS –  Art “the MAN OF STEEL” Montini and John “the BIG FISH” McKean.  These guys know how to conduct a quality competition.  They both have been prior National Meet Directors in the USAWA. 

This competition is different than most “other competitions” within the USAWA.  It is titled the CLUB CHALLENGE for a reason, because it is not about individual performance, but rather club performance.  Each club is invited to bring a three person team representing their club, and the accumulation of each lifter’s individuals scores will be added together to form a TEAM SCORE.  If you can’t get three people together for the competition, you may come with a team of two, or just by yourself.  But doing that is like John has said in the past, “bringing a knife to a gunfight” because you will still be scored against the other 3 person teams. But come regardless, because you will have a fun enjoyable day lifting weights. 

Even though it is preferred to have all members registered to the same club, this is not mandatory.  If two clubs want to “join together” and form a team that is acceptable.  Our main goal of this competition is to encourage club participation within the USAWA.


Date:  Saturday, March 10th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Directors:  John McKean & Art Montini

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  1:00 PM

Sanction:  USAWA


Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm

Pullover and Press

Hack Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John McKean.

Club Challenge

by John McKean


The Ambridge Barbell Club hosted this years USAWA Club Challenge. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Phil Rosenstern, and John McKean.

I sure hope that nutritionists will discover that the Maple Restaurant’s famed thick, brown beef gravy is chock full of protein, vitamins, and minerals!  Our hungry Club Challenge competitors sure slurped a lot of the delicious sauce down with big beef platters!!  Joe Ciavattone Jr had been looking forward to this stuff all day (he even had his girlfriend research online the restaurant BEFORE he, his dad, and brother had left Boston!), and I think Chad and Al ordered an extra quart of the gravy as their beverage!!  But it was an absolutely wonderful meal that capped off a perfect lifting day – truly a family gathering of happy and starving USAWA men who had traveled from Kansas, Boston, Lebanon, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Aliquippa!!

Actually air flight arrangements were a bit off, with our Kansas group not being able to arrive before 2:30, but that eventually proved to be a big plus. While waiting, the rest of us hit the Ambridge gym at about 11 AM, and ended up setting sort of a record in itself – we actually completed FOUR meets within one afternoon!!  That is, we conducted a “Record Day”, 2 postal competitions, and then, well warmed, the Club Challenge.

Joe Ciavattone Sr., of Joe's Gym, performing an outstanding 2-Barbell Deadlift.

We have to give a huge thanks to co-meet director Art Montini for his skillful airport pickup & delivery system!!  Joe Ciavattone & sons were obviously a bit concerned when arriving at 9 AM on Friday morning at the big Pittsburgh terminal, heading toward the outside doors, and there was ole smiling Art at the ready!  They spent a relaxing day & night at Art’s place -as Joe told me  “I can’t ever remember being this relaxed going into a contest!”  Then, on Saturday afternoon, after lifting most of the day, ever energetic Art headed for the airport with perfect timing to intercept Al, Chad, and Darren ! They were back almost before we could get our second breath, and put us in real pain, as we entered into the main event !

As we warmed up, we had an unexpected treat -longtime powerlifter and Ambridge VFW member, 57 year old Phil Rosenstern, of deadlifting fame, was so impressed with the goings on (Phil was just innocently doing a normal Saturday workout when the craziness overtook him!)  that he immediately joined the USAWA, then hoisted a world record hack lift of 450 at 198 pounds bodyweight !!  It was fast, easy, and perfect, performed in front of 7 top level officials!!  Welcome aboard, Phil !

Scott Schmidt joined the Ambridge Club for this team event and is showing perfect technique in his 253 pound Bent Over Row.

The meet went in our usual “scatter fashion” with groups doing the 2 barbell deadlift, bent over row, and neck lift in various corners of the VFW pit. It worked to perfection, with everyone encouraging another to the very best efforts. Even the jet lagged crew from Kansas summoned their “inner animal” toward the end, with both Chad & Al neck lifting phenomenal 750 pound fourth attempts!  Their newcomer (to the Steel Valley) team mate, Darren was awesome in leading the Western men into battle, earlier having done a terrific, balanced 470 pound 2 barbell deadlift.

What more can be said about the Ciavattones – other than they are the strongest family team in the USAWA ?!!  It was just fantastic to see old buddy Joe & his teen sons Joe Jr and Jon!  And these men came to lift heavy, sticking at it all day,with records vanishing through their strong hands!  Not to mention thick NECKS – these three guys set the bar for neck lifting standards at this contest; it was their collective performance that inspired me to include this lift in the contest (despite all the grief EVERYONE gave me about this painful harness event!!!).

Dino Gym teammates Chad Ullom and Al Myers both ended the day with record performances in the Neck Lift, each with a lift of 750 pounds.

Denny and Kohl once again brought “knives to a gunfight”, as they were the two man team in a three man event!!  So, naturally, they won the two man team award with their usual record breaking prowess. I think they also had the meet record for the longest TIME traveled during that day with a round trip to/from Lebanon (PA) of about 12 hours (despite moans & groans about layovers from a certain group of cowboys!).

And what would a meet be without the smooth talking (he convinced the Maple restaurant over the phone to remain open for our after meet dinner!!) Scott Schmidt to drive over from Cleveland to be Ambridge’s third team member for the day? Scott did his usual stellar, perfect form performance, and even inspired old Art into setting 4 new Master’s records!

As Al summed up over dinner, the Club Challenge is certainly well established now as one of  the USAWA’s premier events. We just may have more fun & comradary at this contest than any other!  Next year let’s shoot for 10 teams!!!


2011 Club Challenge
Ambridge VFW BBc
Ambridge, PA
March 12th, 2011

Meet Directors:  John McKean and Art Montini

Officials: (3-official system used on all lifts):  John McKean, Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Darren Barnhart

Lifts:  Deadlift – 2 Bars, Bent Over Row, Neck Lift

1. Dino Gym – 3192.35 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Al Myers 44 248 590 300 550
Chad Ullom 39 238 510 285 550
Darren Barnhart 43 285 470 285 400

2.  Joe’s Gym – 3066.05 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 42 254 410 285 600
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 17 220 410 205 550
Jonathon Ciavattone 16 234 350 184 550

3.  Ambridge BBC – 2773.84 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
John McKean 65 175 370 209 350
Art Montini 83 179 238 100 250
Scott Schmidt 58 251 363 253 264

4.   Habecker’s Gym – 1679.02 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Denny Habecker 68 188 290 209 270
Kohl Hess 16 285 410 220 300

All lifts recorded in pounds and adjusted points are adjusted for bodyweight correction and age allowance.

Extra attempts for Record:

Chad Ullom – Bent Over Row 300#
Chad Ullom – Deadlift, 2 Bars 550#
Chad Ullom – Neck Lift 750#
Al Myers – Neck Lift 750#

Record Day Session

John McKean – 175 pounds BWT, 65 years of age

Hack Lift – Fulton Bar: 195#
Squat:  225#
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 300#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 300#

Phil Rosenstern – 198 pounds BWT, 57 years of age

Hack Lift: 450#

Scott Schmidt – 251 pounds BWT, 58 years of age

Pinch Grip – Right Hand: 136#
Pinch Grip – Left Hand: 99#

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