Tag Archives: John Vernacchio

John Vernacchio Record Day

By Denny Habecker

John Vernacchio Memorial Record Day

We had three enthusiastic lifters here for the John Vernacchio Memorial Record Day. Aidan Habecker, Steve Freides, and Barry Pensyl set 14 American records.  I served as the official for the day and was very impressed with the quality of lifting that was done.

Meet Results:

John Vernacchio Memorial Record Day
Habecker’s Gym
Lebanon, PA
December 16th, 2017

Meet Director: Denny Habecker

Officials (1-official system used): Denny Habecker

LIFTERS:

Aidan Habecker,  14 Years Old    158 Lbs.   75 Kg. Class
Right Hand 2″ Vertical Bar Lift – 149 Lbs.
Right Hand Dumbbell Snatch   – 44 Lbs.
Lano Lift                                – 22 Lbs.
Shoulder Drop                        – 77 Lbs.

Steve Freides,  62 Years Old     151 Lbs.     70 Kg. Class
Trap Bar Deadlift                    –  331 Lbs.
Alternate Grip Bench Press       – 134 Lbs.
Hack Lift                                 – 298 Lbs.
Jefferson Lift                           – 331 Lbs.
Front Squat                            –  176 Lbs.

Barry Pensyl   69 Years Old    150 Lbs.    70 Kg. Class
Alternate Grip Bench Press      –  129 Lbs.
Straight Arm Pullover              –  72 Lbs.
Bent Arm Pullover                   –  84 Lbs.
Right Hand Thumbless Deadlift – 116 Lbs.
Left Hand Thumbless Deadlift    – 110 Lbs.

HOF BIO – JOHN VERNACCHIO

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHY

JOHN VERNACCHIO – CLASS OF 1996

VernachioHOF1

John Vernacchio was born in 1936 and grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He attended Holy Savior Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Bishop High School in 1956. He attended Shippinsburg State University where he played football while attaining his degree. After graduation in 1961, he finished his education at Temple University where he earned his Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. John taught High School for several years and coached football. He has also coached football at the College and minor pro league level. John has also worked as a rehabilitation therapist for a Chiropractor. John has two grown sons – John born in 1962 and Jeffrey born in 1965. John lives in Texas and has two daughters. Jeff lives in Pennsylvania with one son. Both received B.S. degrees from Westchester State University. John started training when he was 13 years old at the local YMCA and began competing in weightlifting in 1957 with friends Richard Durante and Domenic DeSanto. John Vernacchio won his first National title in 1961 at the National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. He continued to train under the direction of James Messer at the Holy Savior Weightlifting Club. John got his start in Olympic lifting, but eventually competed in powerlifting for many years for the Valley Forge Weightlifting/Powerlifting Club. John was one of the charter members of the USAWA, being involved since the beginning in 1987. He was introduced to the USAWA by Bill Clark. John has served two terms as President of the USAWA, and one term as Vice President of IAWA. He has promoted several National and International competitions throughout the years. He has promoted three National Meets – in 1988, 1989, and 2004. John has the distinction of being the Meet Director of the very first USAWA National Championships (1988). He has promoted three IAWA World Championships – in 1989, 1991, and 1997. He also promoted the 2003 IAWA Gold Cup. His favorite lifts were the military press and the squat. Even though John has won numerous weightlifting, powerlifting, and all-round meets through the years, when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, he replied, “My biggest accomplishment was to see both my sons graduate from College.” John Vernacchio displays every quality a Hall of Famer should possess – excellence with the iron and excellence in life. John died on December 27th, 2012.

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2012 USAWA Year In Review

by Al Myers

The 2012 Year In Review is dedicated to the late, great John Vernacchio.

For the fourth year now, I have done a 2012 USAWA Year In Review.  This book contains all of the information that has been placed on the USAWA website throughout the prior year.  If a blog was written – it is included in this review book.  All together, this review book is 476 pages and contains 164,701 words!!!  Definitely not something you would get read in one evening!  I have had a few copies printed and bound, so if anyone wants one send me an email with your request.  The books cost $50, payable to the USAWA.  This was the cost of the printing so no money is being made here.  Of course, if you just want the file I’ll email it to you free of charge and you can print it out yourself.  The book is printed in black and white.  Color printing would have been 3 times as much! 

This book is not edited.  I just copied and pasted from the website.  I do this monthly as a way of backing up the website, so making this book is not really that much work for me.  And after the problems with the website this past week, where we lost over a days worth of material, it goes to show that the internet may not be a permanent source of this important information.  Having a hard copy book that you can place on your bookshelf will still be there in 50 years!!

John’s History in the USAWA

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio completing a Clean and Jerk.

It’s been a sad past couple of weeks with the passing of John Vernacchio.  He had many friends in the all-round weightlifting community.  However, it is a glorious occasion as well, because I know he is in heaven right now meeting family members and friends that have gone before him.  My bet is that he and Howie are having a hard training session together right now – with John pumping out those famous presses of his, while Howard is hooking up the belts to do a Harness Lift.

I would like to take today and share some of the accomplishments that John has achieved throughout his lifting career.  Most of this will be with his time lifting in the USAWA as I don’t have much information on his lifting before that.  However,  Joe Roark (Ironhistory.com) recently provided some important information on John that I wasn’t aware of prior to his USAWA involvement. Initially John did some competitive bodybuilding in his early weightlifting days.  These were his physique competition accomplishments:

Mar 12, 1960 was 11th at Mr. Jr. Middle Atlantic
Dec 09, 1961 was 7th in an Open Physique contest in Norristown, PA
Oct 13, 1962 was 18th in an Open Physique contest in Philadelphia
Apr 04, 1964 was 21st in a physique event at Holy Saviour

After that John become involved with Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting, lifting for the Holy Savior Weightlifting Team.  Joe Roark also provided some contest history of PL and Olympic meets that John competed in in the early 60’s:

Oct 19, 1963 at Atlantic Coast PL: curl 140, Sq 360, BP 200, Total 700 for 6th place in the 181 class
Mar 21, 1964 was last in an Open PL contest in Pittsburgh where his only successful lift was a 380 squat
Feb 13, 1960 in the 148 class at the Greater Philidelphia Open 200-170-235 = 605

In John’s Hall of Fame Bio, it stated that he won his first National Championship in 1961, at the National Collegiate WL Championships.  John also stated in his bio that his two favorites lifts were the Military Press and the Squat – which shows why John eventually found his calling in All-Round Weightlifting by enjoying two such different lifts the best. Most of his Powerlifting was done in his club – the Valley Forge WL Club.  This continued into the early days of the USAWA, as John usually brought a team from his club to represent in all-round meets.  The Valley Forge WL Club was a member club of the USAWA from 1989 to 1995. 

John Vernacchio (left) presenting Jerry Turner (right), a member of the Ambridge Club his award after a meet John was promoting.

John was one of the pioneer leaders of the USAWA.  He promoted the VERY FIRST USAWA National Championships in 1988.  That is still a meet the “old-timers” tell stories about.  He went on to promote three USAWA National Championships (1988, 1989, & 2004).  At this years Nationals, a special award was given to John for this contribution, as he was one of 4 that have promoted the most, at 3, USAWA National Championships.  I am really glad now that he received this final award from the USAWA before his death.  He deserved it! 

John was the second President of the USAWA, elected in January 1989 and serving till the end of 1992.  He also served as one term as the IAWA Vice President (elected in 2000).  In addition, he has served several terms on the IAWA Technical Committee.  He did several IAWA promotions as well.  He promoted three IAWA World Championships (1989, 1991, & 1997), as well as three Gold Cups (1992, 1996, & 2003).  John was “no stranger” to competing overseas.  Numerous times he attended the IAWA Worlds when it was held out of the states. I did some research and have discovered John competed in 12 World Championships!  He had a continuous 10 year run from the the first one in 1988 in Leicester, England to 1997 Worlds in Collegeville, PA.  This included World Meets in Glasgow, Scotland twice and England three times.  His last two World entries came in 2002 & 2005 in Lebanon, PA. John also promoted many Powerlifting meets and Olympic lifting competitions. He promoted the 1987 National Masters WL Championships as well as the 1991 Pan American Masters  WL Championships.  He promoted multiple Eastern Masters PL and WL Championships.

John was an active participant in the USAWA National Championships as well.  All together – he competed in 15 Championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2007).  He won numerous Best Lifter Age Group Awards through the years: 1988 Best Lifter 50-54, 1990 Best Lifter 50-54, 1992 Best Lifter 55-59, 1993 Best Lifter 55-59, 1997 Best Lifter 60-64, 2004 Best Lifter 65-69.  He probably won more Best Lifter Awards than this number, as this information came from the old meet results and often not all Best Lifter Awards were recorded.  His highest overall placing at the USAWA Nationals was 4th overall at the 1988 Championships.  He had 4 total “top ten” finishes at Nationals: 4th in 1988, 10th in 1989, 6th in 1990, and 8th in 1997.  John “V” also really supported the IAWA Gold Cup.  He competed in 13 Gold Cups, including Gold Cups  in England and Scotland.  He entered the “very first” Cup in 1991 directed by Howard Prechtel in Lakewood, Ohio and performed a 190 Kg 12″ Base Squat.

John Vernacchio

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio Sr. - December 27, 1937 to September 2, 2012.

The following newspaper article was given to Denny by Dick Durante at John’s funeral.  The article tells about the Holy Savior weightlifting team going to California in 1980 to compete in the World and National Weightlifting and Powerlifting Championships.  John took second in his class in both events.

Holy Savior Weightlifting Team

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