(Webmasters note: This is a reprint of the meet report covering the Heart of America Festival that occurred in August 1963 as published by the oldtime lifting magazine, the Lifting News. Dale Friesz passed this along to me to share, which characterizes one of the early-days All-Round Weightlifting Meets. Dale’s brother, Leonard, is included in the results as he was a member of the Columbia Athletic Club at the time. Our very own Bill Clark served as Meet Director, Head Judge, and Meet Reporter. He also competed! Past meets such as these are the reason why Bill organized All-Round Weightlifting into the USAWA. You will recognize several of the “meet stars” as they are legends in All-Round Weightlifting today. The meet was a two day affair, so I will divide the story into two parts, one covering each day. Enjoy!)
by Bill Clark
On the second day the squat and dead lift marks of Saturday are used and four other events are added to test a man’s back, endurance and will power. The front squat opens the second day and Miller was very unhappy with his 390 front squat. Wachholz made 385 and Friesz 380. The Jefferson lift was next and Wachholz almost caught the lanky Kansas wheat farmer. Miller did a straddle with 650, but Wachholz surpassed him on bodyweight with a 640 and moved within range with two lifts remaining. Paul was able to make “only” 600 in the hack lift, but Miller endured with a 650 effort. In the Zercher lift, Miller made 425 while Wachholz was good for only 365. The meet was Miller’s once again. This time with a total of 3320 and 2148 points. Wachholz was close behind with 3020 pounds and 2072 points. Your writer was third and felt happy with a mediocre performance after not working out more than five times since February. He squatted 470 cold, made a 530 dead lift, front squatted 320, straddled up 560, hacked only 500 (has done 600) and Zerchered just 420 – 40 pounds under tops. This was the meet he had planned to make a 600 squat, but baseball took care of that boast. Maybe next year. Too much umpiring this year and not enough time in the gym.
Meet Director: Bill Clark
Officials: Bill Clark, Don Wickell, Ed Zercher
The question here, then, is how these two great lifters rank with strong men of the past. Surely, in two days, few men of this size have ever lifted more. To dead lift 675, hack 650 and straddle 650 along with the others is a phenomenal performance, and Wachholz was superb. His 640 straddle must rank with the best.
These men are not goons, as power lifters have often been called. Wachholz has done over 800 as a mid-heavy in the Olympic lifts and won the 100 yard dash, final event of the meet, in an amazing time of 11.3 seconds, running on asphalt in tennis shoes after a hard day on the platform. Wachholz also throws the discus well over 160 feet and has a beautiful frame, placing high in every physique contest he enters. He’s married and has two children. He works in a bank and travels thousands of miles a year to meets. (No relation between his work and his ability to travel). The marks he set at the Power Festival were all personal records. In addition, he entered several of the side contests and won them. He was best in the bench press with 315 pounds and did a stiffarm pullover with 110.
Miller was impressive as always. He stands 6’3″, and weighs 235. In high school he was a top miler and turned down a track scholarship at Kansas University after finishing his senior year at Ensign (Kansas) High School. In his final high school race, he covered the mile in 4:33.6 and wound up third behind two great runners – Wes Santee, who later ran the mile in 4:00.2 and was America’s greatest miler until barred by the AAU for excessive expense money – and Billy Tidwell, a half-miler who represented the U.S. on many international fields. Miller has done 930 in the Olympic Lifts and was second in the Junior Nationals this year. He won one other event in the Power Festival, doing an abdominal raise with 105 pounds. When the meet was over, a side bet came to pass concerning Wilbur’s ability to lift cars. He promptly picked up the rear end of a Volkswagon, engine and all, and held it a foot off the ground. He made the lift from the normal deadlift position.
Ed Zercher Sr., an old-timer who has moved enough weight to kill an elephant in his forty years on the platform, refereed all the lifts and branded Miller and Wachholz as two mighty strong youngsters. He pointed out that their lifting was different from that in the old days when bars were not machined, but allowed the pair could have held their own with many of the greats. Zercher, at 56, proved to be a horse even yet. He took 600 pounds on his feet, and without any supporting devices, made 10 reps and held his balance perfectly in the leg press. He then built a Roman Chair all by himself with 235 pounds balanced on his feet: 145 pounds in his hands and 130 pound Art Tarwater sitting astride the chair doing presses with 100 pounds. When Tarwater lost his balance, Zercher held the chair steady – much to the amazement of the onlookers.
This meet was held in a shelter house the first evening and on the grass under a large shade tree the second day. People driving through the park would stop and watch the lifting until they grew tired. The crowd changed many times and townspeople still talk about the show they say in the park – for no charge. It seems until someone comes up with a better performance, this must go down as one of the greatest ever.