Monday, June 26, 2023

USAWA 2023 National Championship

I have been involved with the USAWA for a little over a year and decided to enter the National Championship meet hosted by Clark's Gym in Columbia, MO.  The event was held at the American Legion post which could accommodate 16 lifters and their families as well as the spotters and meet directors very comfortably.

There were two platforms which were simply 4 sheets of plywood screwed together.  The racks and weights could best be described as classic and vintage without all of the bells and whistles of modern day combo racks and bumper plates.  The scoring lights were homemade and very robust.  There was also some custom equipment on display including the heavy lift bar.

The drive in was 10.5 hours plus an hour lost to the time change.  With some stops, I rolled into town around 8:00 PM local time.  I got settled into the Residence Inn and got fitful sleep until morning.  I had some eggs and a pastry and headed over.  We did weigh ins on a bathroom scale and I came in at 193.4 pounds (90kg class) as planned.

16 Entrants:
John Carter - Clark's Gym (local)
Nick Frieders - Clark's Gym (drove from Chicago)
Tony Lupo - Clark's Gym (local)
Travis Luther - Clark's Gym (local)
Abe Smith - Clark's Gym (local)
Eric Todd - KCSTRONGMAN, Kansas City
David DeForest - Clark's Gym (?)
Wyatt Sawyers - Clark's Gym (Oklahoma)
Beth Skwarecki - Habecker's Gym (?)
Randy Smith - Clark's Gym (Michigan)
Joe Garcia - Clark's Gym (local)
Chad Ullom - Dino Gym (Holland, KS)
Everett Todd - KCSTRONGMAN, Kansas City
Phoebe Todd - KCSTRONGMAN, Kansas City
Sanjiv Gupta - Unattached (Denver)
Denny Habecker - Habecker's Gym, Lebanon, PA

Day 1

Two Hand Clean & Press, Heels Together - I had practiced for this and knew my opener at 95 pounds.  It felt good and I progressed per plan at 95, 105 and 115 pounds (3 for 3); Best 210, Median was 117.5.

Front Squat - I had practiced this, but felt really good during warm-ups.  I raised my opener from 115 to 135 pounds and progressed well at 135, 155, 175 pounds (3 for 3); Best 325, Median was 200.

Steinborn Lift - I had practiced this and opened per plan at 65 pounds.  I felt really good and took my next lifts at 80 and 95 pounds (3 for 3); Best was 295, Median was 142.5.

Record attempts:

Apollon's Lift - plan was to open at 105, but I took two successful lifts at 115 and 125 establishing a National 50-54 year old 90kg record.

Clean and Push Press, Fulton Bar - plan was to open at 105, but instead I missed the first attempt at 125 and making the second attempt at 125 establishing a National and IAWA 50-54 year old 90kg record.

Judd Clean & Jerk - I failed my opener at 45 pounds as I had practiced this as a clean & press and abandoned further attempts.

Full Gardner - plan was to open at 45, but I was not feeling real steady.  I made attempts at 35 and 40 pounds establishing a National and IAWA 50-54 year old 90kg record.

Scott Lift - plan was to open at 105, but I was feeling good and made lifts at 115, 125 and 135 pounds establishing a National 50-54 year old 90kg record.

Deadlift, no thumbs, overhand grip - I was planning to try this at Colorado Record's Day, but instead made attempts at 255 and 275 pounds establishing a National 50-54 year old 90kg record.

Day 2

Hip Lift - This was brand new for me.  Essentially a heavy bar (2 inch solid steel bar with a single attachment point in the center) is loaded and a hip belt (reinforced leather belt with solid rings, chain and hook) is adjusted to the appropriate length to allow the lifter to extend legs and break the heavy bar off the ground.  I got up to an iffy 675 pound in warm ups.  I opted for 500, 600 and 675 pounds (3 for 3); Best was 1775, Median was 1262.5.

Two Hand One Inch Vertical Bar - This was new for me, although I have done other grip stuff.  I warmed up to 132.5# in each hand (265#) and it was OK, but did not feel good.  I opened at 107.5 then 117.5 and 132.5 and I took a fourth record attempt that was successful at 135 pounds (270 Total).  This established the National 50-54 year old, 90kg record; Best was 465, Median was 295.

Two Hand Swing - I had a plan to open at 70 pounds, but opened heavier and went 80, 90 and 95 pounds (3 for 3) but got my only red light of the meet.  The judge saw a soft right arm and no press out is allowed in this movement; Best was 150, Median was 90.

National Scoring
Tow Hand Clean & Press, Heels Together - 115
Front Squat - 175
Steinborn - 95
Hip Lift - 675
Two Hand One Inch Vertical Bar - 265
Two Hand Swing - 95
Total - 1420 pounds
Adjusted Lynch Score - 1460.67 points

This was good enough for 13th place out of 16 lifters.  I was ahead of the female lifters and the junior lifter, but last among the adult men.  I was happy with the result.  I would have to bump my heavy lift up to over 1000 pounds to have been competitive.  My other lifts were reasonable, but not at the top of any category.  My Clean & Press, Front Squat, Vertical Bar Lift and 2 Dumbbell Swing were within 15% of Median.  The Steinborn and Hip Lift left the most room for improvement.  My 95# Steinborn was 50# behind the median.  The median Hip Lift of 1262.5 was nearly double my 675# effort.

The drive was 740 miles and took me 10.5 hours each way.  Gas was probably around $200 round trip, lodging was another $275 and lunches were another $20.  Meet registration was $40 and dinner was $25.  All in all, it was a reasonably priced trip for a great adventure.

I heard some great stories as well.  The Scott Lift was named after a nurse who was trying to pick patients up and realized if she got down on her knees and hook her arms under their shoulders, shed could pick them up.  Bill Clark has never drank alcohol, smoked or drank soda pop.  Over the course of his life he served in the US Army, was a baseball scout, and served as an official and trainer in a variety of sports from racewalking to powerlifting and lots of stuff in between.  Clark's Gym has never been profitable and has never been professionally cleaned since its inception in 1987.  Nick and Travis are interested in city planning and we discussed technical challenges in transportation which is a hobby of theirs.  Abe is a civil engineer.  Randy is a retired pathologist.  Dave has an apple orchard.  Just an amazing group of interesting folks.

I had a lot of extra gear.  I used the belt and wrist wraps.  I used my lifters and Reebok Nanos.  I would have like to have had my Reebok Crossfit TR Lite to use for heavy lifts and deadlifts.  I will probably purchase some RDX knee wraps from Amazon.  These are what Beth uses and they were reasonably comfortable and supportive.  I would still want to keep some tape and first aid in case of injury.

Heavy Lift Bar.  This was pretty interesting.  These have all been fabricated by the gym owners and consists of a 1-15/16" solid steel shaft (7 to 8.5 feet) with an inside sleeve between 16 and 42 inches with a single hook located at the center.  The competition bar was definitely less than 7 feet, but was certainly appropriate for the junior lifters and myself.  I had never seen that many 100 pound plates in one place, but the stronger athletes were loading them up.  I do not recall the max lift, but it was on the order of 1800 pounds.  Fabricating a bar would cost me a minimum for $500.  I would also need to find belts and harnesses.  Finally for training, 1000 pounds of 100 pound plates would cost me $2500.

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