Tag Archives: Dino Gym

Grip Championships

By Al Myers


Group picture from the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.

Group picture from the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.

It was another great year for the USAWA Grip Championships!  The Dino Gym had a full room with 14 lifters in attendance – 12 men and 2 women. Thom Van Vleck of the JWC made the trip from Missouri to Kansas to officiate the event. I plan to keep this meet report short as I need to get the results on the website today.  I apologize for the long delay in this, but it’s been a busy week for me.

First of all, I want to mention Mary Mac and her return to the USAWA.  Mary has been fighting hard against some medical issues this past year, so it was a very special seeing her back in action in the Dino Gym.  And WOW, she still has super strength in those fingers as she did a 155 Ring Fingers Deadlift!

I want to give a big congrats to Tressa for winning Overall Best Womens Lifter of the 2018 USAWA Grip Championships.  She has competed at several Grip Championships, but this was her first time being the Womens Overall.  She now joins a very select group of past Grip Champions (which includes RJ Jackson, Emily Burchett, Mary McConnaughey, and Felecia Simms).

The Mens Division was loaded with grippsters! I won’t go into detail with all the specific GREAT LIFTS, as there were many.  For the first time ever, the Mens Junior Class was extremely competitive. Calvin, Cole, and Jared lifted like seasoned veterans and put up great numbers. All three totaled over 750 pounds, with Calvin just edging out Cole (873 to 860 pts) for Best Junior Lifter. That’s as close as it gets.

Another tight battle was in the 75-79 age group between Dean and Denny.  In the end, Dean just pulled out Best Lifter in the 75-79 by only 11 points!

I was so glad to see Jason again, along with John. I could tell the two of them were having a blast lifting alongside with their sons, and if it wasn’t for that dreaded Ring Finger DL which gave them the fits, they both would have placed much higher overall.

Someone who always gets overlooked in meets within the USAWA (and shouldn’t!!) is the person who puts up the top total of the day. There really should be an award to recognize this accomplishment. At this Grip Championships, this person was Scott Tully who put up the top total at 1197 pounds. Scott also had the top lift in 3 of the 5 events (strict pinch grip 162 lbs., 1 arm VB 200 lbs., and the pinch grip DL of 500 pounds).  Scott becomes the first person to perform a 500 pinch grip deadlift.

Ben has been a consistent player at the Grip Championships through the years. I’m not sure if he has even missed any.   Ben’s a true gentleman lifter, and always super supportive of the other lifters. He is a veteran of the grip, and freely shares training advice.  He finished strong with an overall 4th place finish this year, just slightly behind last years Overall Grip Champ Chad Ullom (988 to 975) who finished 3rd overall.

And finally, for those of you that had to wonder if my dad was going to speak to me the next day after how everything went down between the two of us at the meet.  The answer is YES, he forgave me for edging him out by only 1 point!!


2018 USAWA Grip Championships
Dino Gym
Holland, Kansas
February 10th, 2018

Meet Director: Al Myers

Meet Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Meet Official (1 official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Lifts: Pinch Grip – Strict, Deadlift – Fulton Bar One Arm, Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1 Bar 2″ One Hand, Deadlift – Fingers Ring, Pinch Grip Deadlift


Tressa Brooner 56 134 52 75R 80R 65 150 422 569.1
Mary McConnaughey 58 125+ 62 90R 80R 155 190 577 495.3

4th Attempts for Record:
Tressa Brooner: VB DL 2″ Right 85 lbs.
Tressa Brooner: Pinch Grip DL 175 lbs.
Mary McConnaughey: Pinch Grip DL 200 lbs.


Al Myers 51 229 132 175R 195L 170 475 1147 1066.4
LaVerne Myers 73 236 112 175L 180R 171 335 973 1065.4
Chad Ullom 46 241 122 176R 180R 215 450 1143 988.4
Ben Edwards 42 228 142 160R 185R 135 400 1022 875.6
Calvin Heit 16 152 102 100R 135L 135 280 752 873.5
Cole Janzen 16 169 122 151R  140R 80 300 793 860.3
Scott Tully 42 350 162 180R 200R 155 500 1197 833.6
Dean Ross 75 237 67 105R 125L 125 230 652 722.8
Denny Habecker 75 186 67 110R 120R 65 200 562 711.7
Jason Payne 52 325 152 130L  160R 0 400 842 665.3
Jared Payne 16 279 112 130R 150R 95 280 767 633.9
John Janzen 52 297 132 130R  130L 0 330 722 594.9

4th Attempts for Record:
Calvin Heit: VB DL 2″ 1 Bar Left Hand 155 lbs.
Jared Payne: VB DL 2″ 1 Bar Right Hand 160 lbs.
Calvin Heit: DL Ring Fingers 156 lbs.
Dean Ross: DL Ring Fingers 140 lbs.
Calvin Heit: Pinch Grip DL 300 lbs.
Cole Janzen: Pinch Grip DL 330 lbs.
Jason Payne: Pinch Grip DL 420 lbs.
Denny Habecker: Pinch Grip DL 220 lbs.


Womens Best Master – Tressa Brooner
Womens Best Overall Lifter – Tressa Brooner
Mens Best Junior – Calvin Heit
Mens Best 40-44 Age Group – Ben Edwards
Mens Best 45-49 Age Group – Chad Ullom
Mens Best 50-54 Age Group – Al Myers
Mens Best 70-74 Age Group – LaVerne Myers
Mens Best 75-79 Age Group – Dean Ross
Mens Best Overall Lifter – Al Myers


Calvin Heit – 16 Years Old, 151 lbs. BWT
Clean and Push Press: 155 lbs.
Bench Press Reverse Grip: 155 lbs.
Jerk From Rack: 155 lbs.
Vertical Bar DL 1 Bar 1″ Left: 114 lbs.
Bench Press Hands Together: 165 lbs.

Chad Ullom – 46 Years Old, 247 lbs. BWT
Bench Press Feet in Air: 260 lbs.
Roman Chair Sit Up: 90 lbs.
Shoulder Drop: 50 lbs.
Deadlift One Leg: 232 lbs.

Stephen Santangelo – 65 Years Old, 161 lbs. BWT
Finger Lift Right Thumb: 42 lbs.
Finger Lift Left Thumb: 42 lbs.
Finger Lift Right Middle: 130 lbs.
Finger Lift Left Middle: 119 lbs.
Allen Lift: 17 lbs.

LaVerne Myers – 73 Years Old, 238 lbs. BWT
Deadlift Little Fingers: 95 lbs.
Shoulder Drop: 35 lbs.
Deadlift Ciavattone Grip Right Arm: 220 lbs.

Dean Ross – 75 Years Old, 236 lbs. BWT
Deadlift No Thumb Right Arm: 135 lbs.
Clean and Press 2 Dumbbells: 60 lbs.
Bench Press Feet in Air: 185 lbs.
Deadlift 2 Bars: 270 lbs.
Deadlift Little Fingers: 95 lbs.

Denny Habecker – 75 Years Old, 191 lbs. BWT
Clean and Press 2 Dumbbells Heels Together: 90 pounds
Deadlift No Thumb Right Hand: 115 lbs.
Zeigler Clean: 55 lbs.
Clean and Press Behind Neck: 100 lbs.
Holdout Lowered: 45 lbs.

Grip Championships

By Al Myers


Chad "Grizzly" Ullom won Overall Best Men's Lifter at the 2017 USAWA Grip Championships.

Chad “Grizzly” Ullom won Overall Best Men’s Lifter at the 2017 USAWA Grip Championships.

The USAWA Grip Championships last weekend at the Dino Gym was a huge success! A total of 17 lifters (5 women and 12 men) turned up to make this one of the biggest attended USAWA competitions in the past year. There was lots of great lifting – so much I will not be able to cover it all here.

The Womens Division was packed with 5 great lifters. RJ made the trip from Colorado, Mary Mac, Tressa and newcomer Saria came from Omaha, along with last years defending best lifter champion Emily Burchett. The Mens Division had a house full of seasoned grippers –  defending champ LaVerne Myers, 2012 World Champ Dan Wagman, grip sensation Ben Edwards, and Chad Ullom.  I knew that this years titles were up for grabs.

The Pinch Grip was the first lift of the day.  Most of the lifters had no idea what their max was in this lift, so as you can tell from the results listed below, alot of the lifters did a 4th attempt for record. The best lifts were by Dan Wagman, Chad Ullom, and Jason Payne, who all finished with a superb lift of 226 pounds.

The second lift was the Fulton DB one arm deadlift. The Fulton DB has a handle with diameter of 2″ so this makes the gripping a real challenge. Mary Mac had the top womens mark with 95 pounds, while Chad had the top men’s mark with 195 pounds! This new record by Chad is the best overall record lift ever in this lift by either hand, and matches the historic record set many years ago by Kevin Fulton. I was very impressed. LaVerne Myers had the second best lift with 185 pounds.

The third lift was the Middle Fingers Deadlift. Again, Mary had the top womens lift here with 195 pounds.  Very, very impressive.  Mary has always been great at this lift (she holds the top womens lift in the record list at 230 pounds), and on this day showed she still has it! The top mens lift went to Chad with a lift of 285 pounds.  Both Dan and Ben had been training hard for this lift in training and had suffered finger injuries that prevented them from taking all out maxes in the meet.  However, after Ben’s conservative 225# opener he made a big jump to 320# to try for a new PR.  He had the weight locked out but just a millisecond before he was to get the down command the bar popped out of his fingers, taking a chunk of flesh with it! O so close!

The meet finished with the Fulton Bar Hack Lift. Two women made a 200 pound lift (Emily and Saria) and four men were over 300 pounds (Chad 450, Zach and Ben 325, and Dan 305).  Chad really stole the show here with his huge 450. Plus I should mention that up through 3 events LaVerne was in the lead in total points, but after Chad’s and Dan’s big hacks he got passed by them and dropped to third overall. Ben provided a little humor in this event as he lifted his opener facing backwards! The funniest part of it all was that he didn’t do it on purpose and was a little embarrassed afterwards.

In the end RJ won overall best lifter in the Women’s Division over the best class of women’s lifters EVER in the Grip Championships.  RJ was very prepared for this meet and picked her attempts perfectly. She is now a 3X winner of the Overall Best Womens Lifter at the Grip Championships.  Saria shows alot of potential in the All Rounds.  In the mens division we had a newcomer to the USAWA – John Douglas.  I always like to see new lifters involved in our organization, especially great guys like John.  John ended up getting BEST LIFTER in the 50-54 age group in a hotly tested and competitive age group with Lance and Jason being part of. I was tremendously impressed with the two Junior Men lifters – Christian and Calvin.  Both these guys showed grit all day and it came down to a very close finish for best Mens Junior lifter with Christian edging Calvin 799 points to 793 points. I also want to mention Jason Payne.  Jason has lifted in meets at the Dino Gym before, but its been a few years.  Jason has a huge grip (he still holds the Dino Gym record with the hub lift) and if it wasn’t for the Hack Lift which gave him problems he would have placed much higher overall.  Got to mention our USAWA Prez Denny Habecker.  Denny just had surgury on a finger a couple of months ago but STILL lifted in the meet and did quite well.  That takes courage (or stupidity! haha).  The “effort award” has to go to Dan with his Fulton Bar Hack Lift.  Dan has plenty of strength in the Hack but had problems getting the bar past his hammys, and had to go to his third attempt to get it!  He never gives up.

I want to thank everyone for attending this meet, and lets make it another epic Grip Championships next year!

Meet Results:

2017 Grip Championships
February 11th, 2017
Dino Gym
Holland, Kansas

Meet Director: Al Myers

Scorekeeper & Announcer: Al Myers

Official (1 official system used): Al Myers

Lifts: Pinch Grip, Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm, Deadlift – Middle Fingers, Hack Lift – Fulton Bar


RJ Jackson 55 106 156 (161) 80R 155 190 581 936.7
Emily Burchett 25 149 166 (201) 90R 160 (175) 180 (200) 596 638.0
Tressa Brooner 55 128 97 (107) 75R (80R) 115 (120) 130 (140) 417 576.5
Saria De La Vega 17 163 107 (112) 75R 150 185 (200) 517 547.5
Mary McConnaughey 57 304 161 (171) 95R 195 —- 451 383.9


Chad Ullom 45 246 226 180R (195R) 285 450 1141 967.6
Dan Wagman OP 185 226 150L 255 305 936 874.0
LaVerne Myers 72 238 205 185R 185 190 765 827.8
Christian Schimpf 18 154 171 (201) 120R 200 250 741 799.1
Calvin Heit 15 141 151 (166) 100R 135 235(245) 621 793.6
Ben Edwards 41 228 205 150R 225 325 905 767.8
Zach Lucas 31 262 161 175R 225 325 886 686.6
Denny Habecker 74 196 161 (176) 105R 150 110 526 641.4
John Douglas 53 318 166 155R 215 185 721 580.5
Dean Ross 74 246 107 (112) 115L 160 150 532 574.6
Jason Payne 51 333 205 (226) 150R 225 110 690 534.4
Lance Foster 51 340 191 115R 215 130 651  499.4

NOTES: Age is listed in years. BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds. R and L designate right and left hands. TOT is total pounds lifts. PTS are overall points adjusted for age and bodyweight. Extra lifts for records are recorded with parenthesis.


RJ Jackson – Best Women’s Master and Overall Best Lifter
Emily Burchett – Best Women’s Senior
Saria De La Vega – Best Women’s Junior
Chad Ullom – Best Men’s Master 45-49 and Overall Best Lifter
Dan Wagman – Best Mens Open
LaVerne Myers – Best Mens Master 70-74
Christian Schimpf – Best Mens Junior
Ben Edwards – Best Men’s 40-44
John Douglas – Best Men’s 50-54


RJ Jackson  – 55 years old, 106 lbs.
Deadlift – Inch DB, Right: 61 lbs.
Deadlift – Inch DB, Left: 58.5 lbs.
Finger Lift – Little, Right: 36.5 lbs.
Saxon Snatch: 35 lbs.
Teeth Lift: 54 lbs.

Dan Wagman – Open age group, 184 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, 2 Dumbbells: 190 lbs.
Saxon Snatch: 110 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 187 lbs.
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 187 lbs.
Vertical Bar Lift – 1″, 1 Bar, Right Hand: 261 lbs.

Denny Habecker – 74 years old, 197 lbs.
Lateral Raise – Standing: 50 lbs.
Vertical Bar Lift – 1″, 1 Bar, Left Hand: 91 lbs.
Vertical Bar Lift – 1″, 1 Bar, Right Hand: 106 lbs.
Vertical Bar Lift – 1″, 2 Bars: 182 lbs.
Press – Behind Neck, From Racks: 110 lbs.

Calvin Heit – 15 years old, 142 lbs.
Deadlift – Heels Together: 220 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, Dumbbell, Right Arm: 60 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, Dumbbell, Left Arm: 65 lbs.

Chad Ullom – 45 years old, 246 lbs.
Squat – Front: 396 lbs.
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip: 440 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, Dumbbell, Right Arm: 115 lbs.

Dean Ross – 74 years old, 244 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1″, 1 Bar, Left Hand: 106 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1″, 1 Bar, Right Hand: 106 lbs.
Vertical Bar Deadlift – 1″, 2 Bars: 212 lbs.

LaVerne Myers – 72 years old, 241 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton DB, Left Arm: 180 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Left Arm: 170 lbs.
Deadlift – 3″ Bar: 235 lbs.
Vertical Bar Lift – 2″, 1 Bar, Left Hand: 165 lbs.
Bench Press – Fulton Bar: 125 lbs.

Al Myers – 50 years old, 227 lbs.
Bench Press – Roman Chair: 180 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Right Arm: 180 lbs.
Deadlift – Fulton DB, Right Arm: 180 lbs.
Back Extension: 180 lbs.
Curl – Cheat, Reverse Grip: 180 lbs.

Club Champs Summary

by Al Myers

The 2015 Dino Gym members (Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers, Al Myers, and Dean Ross) at the Club Championships.

The 2015 Dino Gym members (Chad Ullom, LaVerne Myers, Al Myers, and Dean Ross) at the Club Championships.

The USAWA Club Championships just recently celebrated its 6 year anniversary.  This has become a signature championship event in the USAWA.  I have decided today to do a summary of all past Club Championships and include this information in our history archives.  The years go by SO FAST – it seems like just yesterday I was at the VERY FIRST Club Champs in Ambridge eating my fill of roast beef and the  “secret beef gravy” at the Maple restaurant with John McKean and Art Montini.  The Club Championships has had two host clubs promoting it through the years.  Ambridge BBC promoted it the first three years, and the Ledaig Heavy Athletics have the past three.

The Dino Gym has the most overall wins with four, followed by the Ledaig HA with 2 wins.  Ledaig has had the most lifters entered in a Club Champs (8 in 2014).  Only one USAWA Club has entered every Club Championships – the Dino Gym.


2015  August 29th Ledaig HA Dino Gym Ledaig HA Habecker’s Gym
2014 July 19th Ledaig HA Ledaig HA Dino Gym Habecker’s Gym
2013 July 14th Ledaig HA Ledaig HA Dino Gym
2012 March 10th Ambridge BBC Dino Gym Atomic Athletic Ambridge BBC
2011 March 12th Ambridge BBC Dino Gym Joe’s Gym Ambridge BBC
2010 March 13th Ambridge BBC Dino Gym Ambridge BBC Habecker’s Gym


Club of the Year

by Al Myers

Members of the Dino Gym that were present at the 2014 Nationals to recieve the Club of the Year Award, (left to right): Al Myers, Dean Ross, Chad Ullom. The award was presented by Mike Murdock (right).

At the USAWA National Championships this summer, the USAWA awarded a Club of the Year for the past year.  I am extremely proud of the members of my Dino Gym for winning the award!  It takes an entire club’s involvement and participation to win this award in our organization.  Runner up went to Habecker’s Gym, ran by the USAWA President Denny Habecker.  These awards were presented by members of last year’s Club of the Year, the Ledaig HA.  Mike Murdock and Logan Kressly had the honors of presenting the awards on behalf of the Ledaig Club.



Logan Kressly (left) presenting the Runner Up Club of the Year Award to Denny Habecker (right).

Dino Gym Club of the Year

by Al Myers

Every year the USAWA gives out yearly awards honoring special achievements amongst the membership for the prior year.  This Awards Program began in 2009.  The award recipients are voted on and chosen by the membership with the exception of the Club of the Year.  This award is earned on merit -with points being accrued by participation in the USAWA by each registered club.  I just calculated the club points for all registered clubs in 2013 – and I’m excited to announce the Club of the Year for 2013 is the DINO GYM!  This is a team effort with each club member earning points.  For this I want to congratulate the Dino Gym members: Darren Barnhart, Rudy Bletscher, Scott Campbell, Chuck Cookson, Ben Edwards, Tasha Ullum, Alan English, Mark Mitchell, LaVerne Myers, Molly Myers, Dean Ross, Scott Tully, Brianna Ullum, and Chad Ullom.  Extra points were generated by club participation in the “big meets” by Molly, Bri, LaVerne, Dean, Chad and myself.

Club Awards are determined by adding up club points using this 4-Step System:

1. One point awarded to the club for EACH USAWA registered member that lists the club as their affiliated club on their membership application. This designation is also listed beside the members name on the membership roster.
2. Two points awarded to the club for EACH club member that participates in the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup. Points are awarded for each competition, so if one club athlete competes in all three of these big meets it would generate 6 points for the club.
3. Three points awarded to the club for EACH USAWA sanctioned event or competition the club promotes.
4. Four bonus points awarded to the club for promotion of the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup.

Habecker’s Gym won the Runner Up spot in the Club of the Year Award.  Despite only having 3 registered gym members (Denny Habecker, Judy Habecker, and Barry Bryan), thru big meet participation and promotion of the 2013 Nationals and 2013 Gold Cup by club leader Denny, they secured a solid second place finish.

Club of the Year Final Standings (Top Five Listed)

1.  Dino Gym – 46 points
2.  Habeckers’s Gym – 28 points
3.  Frank’s Barbell Club – 20 points
4.  Ambridge BBC – 10 points
5. (tie) Clark’s Gym – 7 points
5. (tie) – Jobe’s Steel Jungle

Frank’s Barbell Club came in fourth by being “well rounded” in their point generation, and getting points in all areas. The club had 5 registered members (Frank Ciavattone, Jeff Ciavattone, Colleen Lane, Jessica Hopps, and James Delaney), had participation in the Nationals and Gold Cup by Frank and Colleen, and promoted three meets (including the Heavy Lift Championships).

Ambridge BBC came in fourth – all due to one man! Art Montini was the only one from the Ambridge Club to register membership in the USAWA for 2013, but thru Art’s devotion to the USAWA by participation in Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup, plus promotion of his annual birth day bash he generated all the points himself!

You may notice that the 2012 Club of the Year Ledaig HA is not listed on the above list.  There’s a reason for that – the defending Champ is not eligible the following year.  This was put in place originally as to not allow the same club to win the club of the year award year after year.  The Ledaig HA Club will have the honors of presenting the Club of the Year awards this year at the National Championships during the awards ceremony.

All together there were 13 registered clubs in the USAWA for 2013.  All of these clubs need mentioned as they are the “backbone” of our memberships.  Over 75% of our yearly membership comes with lifters affiliated with a registered club.  The USAWA Clubs for 2013 were: Al’s Dino Gym, Ambridge VFW BBC, Clark’s Championship Gym, Frank’s Barbell Club, Habecker’s Gym, Jackson Weightlifting Club, Joe’s Gym, Jobe’s Steel Jungle, KC Strongman, Ledaig Heavy Athletics, Salvation Army Gym, Schmidt Barbell Club, and M&D Triceratops (owned and operated by the late Dale Friesz).   Making the “TOP FIVE” is a great achievement for any club, and one each USAWA club should strive for!

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