USAWA History – 1988 Nationals
by Al Myers
By now most USAWA lifters know that this year is a BIG YEAR for the USAWA. At this year’s big event in Las Vegas this summer we will be celebrating the 25 year history of the USAWA and of the USAWA National Championships. I have made up several “special awards” to recognize lifters who have had significant involvement in the USAWA National Championships through the years. The awards are already done, and just waiting to be presented! I also am going to have some posters made up to highlight the 25 year history of the USAWA. On this poster it will contain ALL of the past USAWA logos. Each lifter that competes in Nationals will get one of these posters as part of their entry fee, and I will have more available for sale as well.
Nationals is now less than 2 months away. I plan to take these next couple of months and “highlight” each of the past National Championships in our history. These meets are a big part of our history, and I think it is only right to recognize some of the lifters who helped get us to where we are today.
The following came from the Strength Journal written by Bill Clark following the first USAWA Nationals (September 10th, 1988):
Tireless John Vernacchio directed and lifted and led his Valley Forge team to first place in a one-man demonstration of dynamic energy July 9-10 in Plymouth Meeting, PA. as the new United States All-Round Weightlifting Association staged its first-ever National All-Round Championships.
Vernacchio thus completed his second in a three-sport round of national lifting championships. In 1987, he was the meet director (and organizer and lifter) for the National Masters Weightlifting Championships. In 1989, he’ll do the same for the National Masters Powerlifting meet for the USPF.
The meet was staged in the George Washington Motor Lodge (home of the other two nationals masters competitions), a fine venue which offers both lodging and lifting in the same building. Since John now owns all kinds of harness, we can assume that sometime in the future, we’ll see the IAWA Worlds here. The field was only 18 – but the lifters came from Missouri, Texas, Iowa, New York, Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. A field of 18 may not sound great, but remember that the first National Masters Meet held in Columbia, MO in 1975 drew only 16. Now we’re looking for 200-plus at the World Meet in Florida this December and 27 nations are now involved. A dozen years from now, the all-rounds could be huge.
Steve Schmidt proved to be the best lifter in the meet, winning for the second time in the hip lift at Phil Anderson’s expense. Phil won the first meeting between the two strongmen in the nine-eventer against England last November. But Steve evened matters in January at the Zercher Meet in Columbia, MO making a 3100 harness lift to catch his Texas rival.
Best master was Art Montini. The 60 year-old Montini won the open 165-lb class with a 3165 total and came up with an adjusted total of 4662.42 points. He edged Vernacchio, who had 4636.47 points, and struggled with a 1050 hip lift when at least 1400 was his goal.
1988 USAWA National Championships
July 9-10, 1988
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
Meet Director: John Vernacchio
Lifts: Leg Press, Clean & Press – heels together, Front Squat, Hand & Thigh, Bench Press – feet in air, Deadlift – one hand, Zercher, Hip Lift
Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Steve Schmidt, Missouri
2. Phil Anderson, Texas
3. Joe Garcia, Missouri
4. John Vernacchio, Pennsylvania
5. John McKean, Pennsylvania
6. Dan Ciccarelli, Pennsylvania
7. Italo Bonacci, Pennsylvania
8. Gonzalo Gonzalez, New York
9. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
10. Bill Clark, Missouri
Best Lifter Awards:
Men Open – Steve Schmidt
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Junior – Casey Clark
Men 40-44 Age Group – John McKean
Men 45-49 Age Group – Bill DiCiccio, Sr.
Men 50-54 Age Group – John Vernacchio
Men 55-59 Age Group – Gonzalo Gonzalez
Men 60-64 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 65-69 Age Group – Harrison Skeete
Team Champion – Valley Forge Club
I also want to mention of a few other USAWA members who competed in this FIRST-EVER USAWA National Championships. Our USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot was a participant as well as the famous all-round strength historian Tom Ryan. Both of these guys are still very involved with the USAWA today, and their involvement with the first ever Nationals shows that their involvement has been there from the very beginning. I sure would like to see these two guys (as well as others that attended this first Nationals) make it this year to Vegas to help celebrate with us!!