USAWA History – 2001 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report was written by Bill Clark in the July, 2001 issue of the Strength Journal, Vol. XII No. 5.)


Columbia, Mo. June 24 – The smallest crowd in the history of the USAWA National Championships enjoyed a “fun” weekend, came away with a good share of records, engaged in close battles for best lifter awards, all in an air-conditioned setting at Lange Middle School – which proved to be an excellent venue for a national competition.

Only 17 lifters were on hand and two others – Chris Waterman and Frank Ciavattone – paid entry fees which they knew they’d not use, just to support the meet.  The meet sponsor, Clark’s Gym, didn’t take in enough money from entry fees to pay the rent, let alone pay for awards and other details.

Thanks to generous entry fees from Rex Monahan, Howard Prechtel, and Ciavattone, the losses were cut tremendously and the USAWA voted to cover any losses after the latest Monahan contribution.

But – the fact remains – the USAWA membership did not support the championships…..for whatever reason.  Maybe it was high gas prices, maybe it was distance, maybe it was a shrinking economy.  Or maybe it was either none of the above or all of the above.  The gut feeling was that the membership has come to show only limited support for the title meet, even when it was in such a setting as Ambridge or Lebanon.

Regardless of those who stayed home – those who enjoyed the weekend engaged in some of the closest competition ever.   John Monk won the grand champion award over 19-year-old Abe Smith of the host club, then teamed with Abe to set a two-man deadlift record of 825 pounds in a post-meet record session.  Joe Garcia used a 1,500-pound hand-and-thigh to finish third overall.

Amorkor Ollennuking and Noi Phumchaona did some great lifting with Amorkor taking the grand champion award and Noi the top master plaque for the women.

The closeness of the competition was pinpointed by the difference between Dennis Mitchell and Al Springs.  When the dust settled, Al totaled 1843.491 points (age corrected) and Dennis finished with 1843.472 points.  Talk about the thinnest of margins!

The meet was also a battle of the walking wounded.  Art Montini had back surgery less than two weeks earlier and was told to lift no more than five pounds.  He didn’t exactly comply, but often took only a light opener and moved on.  Dale Friesz was making his first start after hip replacement surgery three months earlier.  Dave DeForest had minor surgery on his calf two days before the meet.  Howard Prechtel had a badly damaged right quad and could do only three of the seven lifts.  Bill Clark set aside degenerating cartilage in the lower back and neck and a totally unusable left shoulder to turn in some of the more grotesque performances of the weekend.  A fun time was had by all.

The meet was a “gym” meet.   Because of the small field, the press was not invited to attend and no public announcement was made.  When people are lured into a national championship, they expect to see a full field and not a small group, half of whom were barely moving.  To have brought in the press would have been to embarrass the USAWA.

For those on hand, it will go down as a truly “fun” meet, even if they could not walk on Monday.  Clark’s Gym thanks to group which worked all weekend, loading and moving equipment, meaning that no lifter had to load a weight all weekend.  In fact, the lifters had to do very little officiating as well.  The slave laborers are listed in the results.


2001 USAWA National Championships
June 23-24, 2001
Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director: Bill Clark and Joe Garcia
Emcee: Bill Clark
Scorekeeper: Bill Clark
Loaders: Joel Anderson, Jonathan Anderson, James Foster, Tom Powell
Officials: Art Montini, Kerry Clark, Casey Clark, Joe Garcia, Dale Friesz, Howard Prechtel, John Monk

Lifts: 1-Arm Snatch, 2-Barbell Deadlift, Hand and Thigh, 1-Arm Hack, Clean and Press heels together, Steinborn, 2-hand Anyhow with Barbell and Dumbbell

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. John Monk, Pennsylvania
2. Abe Smith, Missouri
3. Joe Garcia, Missouri
4. Denny Habecker, Pennsylvania
5. Bob Geib, Hawaii
6. Al Springs, Missouri
7. Dennis Mitchell, Ohio
8. Dave DeForest, Missouri
9. Rex Monahan, Colorado
10. Art Montini, Pennsylvania

Women: Top Two Placings
1. Amorkor Ollenuking, Missouri
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Open – Amorkor Ollennuking
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Open – John Monk
Men Master – Joe Garcia
Men Junior – Abe Smith