Monday, July 1, 2024

2024 USAWA National Championships

I returned to Columbia, MO for my second USAWA National Championships again hosted by Clark's Gym at the American Legion Hall in Columbia, MO.  This time I took the luxury of flying to Kansas City and driving the 2 hours to Columbia (instead of 9 hours from Denver).

16 athletes were in attendance.  9 Senior Men, 4 Senior Women, 2 Junior Men and 2 Junior Women.

After weigh ins and rules we kicked things off.

Clean & Press - Fulton Bar

This is a pretty good event for me and I was happy to go 3 for 3 at 105, 115 and 125.  That was within 5 pounds of my 130 pound personal best and a record in the 50 year old 95kg men (was OPEN).  It was a far cry from the 95kg All age record of 161 pounds.  Not an IAWA lift.

Pullover & Press

This was going to be a tough event for me as my left elbow has been angry for a couple of weeks.  I conservatively went 3 for 3 at 95, 105 and 115 pounds.  This was again a record in the 50 year old 95kg men (was OPEN).  It is a far cry from the 95kg All age record of 275 pounds.  Does not beat the 105kg IAWA record.

Hack Lift

I felt good about this lift, but my Hack Lift is a fraction of my deadlift.  I managed 195, 215 and 235.  The 50 year old 95kg men's record stands at 360 pounds and 540 for All 95kg lifters.  Does not beat the 200kg IAWA record.

Record Session

Record Session was fun.  I knocked out all (5) of my lifts in short order, typically only taking one attempt.

Teeth Lift - 75 pounds (I did not count the loading pin) - USAWA and IAWA record
Saxon Snatch - 57 pounds - USAWA record (not a IAWA lift)
Squat, Lunge - 95 pounds - USAWA record (IAWA record is 95kg)
Side Press, Left - 45 pounds - USAWA and IAWA record
Side Press, Right - 45 pounds - USAWA and IAWA record

We wrapped everything up by 2:00 PM and I spent some time chatting with Eric Todd (judging only), Denny Habecker, Clint Poore (judging only) and Steve Gardner (of the Gardner lifts) who traveled down to visit with us.  Chris Todd came out to support his family.  Bill was the emcee.  Ajax traveled with Beth down from Pittsburg.  (4) spotters and loaders including Douglas and Emmanuel (taking photographs).

Dinner was a very enjoyable BBQ buffet at D. Rowe's.

The national meeting was a bit of a production.  We were brought to order at 6 PM and adjourned by 8 PM.
  • New Award - Dolores Clark Award - Available to all strength sports
  • Chair Reports - accepted
  • Video Committee Report - taken under advisement
  • Knee Sleeves - failed
  • Allow knee sleeves on Squat, Front and Squat, 12" which allows wraps - passed
  • Level 2 Certification - passed
  • Move to OTSM Inch Dumbbell - passed
  • Upper Body Covering - failed* modified to elbows must be exposed, tank tops ok passed
  • Saxon Snatch use metal bar - failed
  • New Lift - Bavarian Lift - passed
  • Increase Dues to $35 - passed
  • New Lift - Bench Press 2 Dumbbells - passed
  • 1.33 Gender Adjustment - passed
  • New Lift - Saxon Deadlift - passed
  • Split Secretary/Treasurer - passed
  • New Record Director - Abe Smith
  • New Secretary - Beth Skwarecki
  • New Awards Chairman - Tony Lupo
  • 2025 Nationals - Awarded to Buffville Gym in Albany, KY
I got a good night's rest and Day 2 was underway.

Deadlift, Fulton, Ciavattone

I went 3 for 3 at 225, 245, 260 besting the 50 year old 95kg record I set back in February at 253 pounds.  All age 95kg record is 353 pounds.  The bar was well seasoned and I felt good.  Not an IAWA lift.

Snatch, One Arm (Right)

I went 3 for 3 at 45, 55, 65 pounds.  While good for me, the lifts did not come close to the 50 year old 95kg record of 121 pounds which is the All age record as well set by John Vernacchio in 1991 and the IAWA record.


I went 3 for 3 at 185, 205 and 235 pounds.  This is the lift I was most proud of.  I beat my personal best and had a good fight on a big stage.  The 50 year old 95 kg record is 375 pounds (also set by John Vernacchio in 1991 for the USAWA and IAWA record), but the All age record is 420 pounds set by a junior lifter Brad Almond in 1994.

Total = 125+115+235+260+65+235 = 1035 pounds (Age Adjusted Lynch = 1035.5)

Overall, I set (8) age/weight class USAWA records and (3) IAWA age/weight class records.

Trying the Saxon Plank took me to 123 of 192 lifts attempted.


Weaver Stick

Left and Right Hand to IAWA/USAWA standard = 2.5 pounds (USAWA record and IAWA record)

Annual Awards

Lifter of the Year - Abe Smith, Runner Up - Beth Skwarecki
Leadership Award - Clint Poore, Runner Up - ?
Courage Award - ?, Runner Up - ?
Newcomer of the Year - Jeff Wenzel, Runner Up - ?
Sportsmanship Award - Sanjiv Gupta, Runner Up - ?
Club of the Year - Clark's Championship Gym

The top three male and female lifters along with the top male and female junior lifters and the winning club received plaques.  Everybody else received certificates.

Then came the loading and unloading of the plates which was not too bad.  We needed a lot more plates last year with the hip lift.

I was actually even more excited to finally read Bill's draft manuscript and visit Clark's All-Sport Championship Gym.  

His manuscript is around 350 pages and includes countless intriguing details.  I will just digitize the few notes I took:
  • First US marathon outside of New York and Boston was in Columbia hosted by Bill
  • 1890's Centurion Club - Walk 100 miles in 24 hours
  • Chains original used to add more weight as sleeves were maxed out
  • 2018 fire destroyed a lot of the archive
  • Peary Radar helped Junior Nationals come to Columbia (beating out York Barbell's bid)
  • 1956 Bird Dog scout ($100/contract and $1500/majors)
  • Masters Track & Field - no result on the Pole Vault at 40 years old
  • 1976 All Female Lifting contest
  • Joe Widdel of Denver Barbell Club
  • 1978 World Championships, athletes smoking under no smoking sign
  • 1984 British Championships featured 24 lifts
  • 1987 Membership was $6/year
  • Adrian Blindt suspension after throwing belt and yelling at official?
  • 1991 AIDS epidemic raised awareness of biohazards and blood on bar or platform
  • Ed Zercher (Elbow Squat origins unknown)
  • Ed Zercher Self Loaded Leg Press - 250 pounds and 81 reps at 200 pounds at 81 years of age
  • Competition age based on birthday or age you will be by December 31st
  • 1994 new lifts added One Hand Thumbless Deadlift, Trap Bar Deadlift, Arthur Lift
  • 1st Rule Book contained 160 lifts
  • Million Pound Workout - John Carter
  • Brian Osterman US Air Force - Walking Weaver 75 feet with 355 pounds, bested by his friend at 425 pounds
  • Travis Challenge
  • IAWA lifts for Worlds
The Saxon Snatch bar was 2x6 of roughly the inside collar length of an Olympic Barbell 2 layers thick.  Standard pipe compatible with 1 inch plates used as the flanges can be accommodated by the 3 inch Saxon Plank.

Clark's Championship Gym is as charming as described.  It is dark with low ceilings and ceiling tiles missing in spots for overhead lifts.  Temperature is set by mother nature and box fans.  There are York Globe dumbbells from 5-100 along some racks that date back to the second World War.  There are some racks, benches, hack squat, roman chair and a variety of bars including a Mike MacDonald camber bar that was purchased from MacDonald.  There are also heavy lift bars along with the various harnesses and belts.  It is truly an old school gym which would only be negatively affected by a good wash.  Most of the athletes train there sans belt, wrist wraps or any other supportive equipment.

Along with lots of old photos and trophies, I was struck by the record boards that featured a variety of lifts including but not limited to:
  • The Deck - 340 reps completed at the pace determined by a deck of cards.  A Jack is 10 unbroken reps an Ace is 1 rep
  • Mansfield Lift - with only 3 records
  • 250 pound Deadlift - Women
  • Power Cleans with Bodyweight - 10 reps or more
  • Bodyweight Snatch
  • 500 pound Hacklift
  • 350 pound Steinborn
  • 2000 pound Harness
  • 1500 pound Hip Lift
  • 500 pound Squat
  • 300 pound Neck Lift
  • 500 pound Deadlift
  • 1000 pound Hand & Thigh
  • 350 pound Leg Press - Women
  • 1500 pound Back Lift
  • 1,000,000 Pounds
  • Hospital Harry - ?
  • 100 Tons
  • 300 pound Zercher
  • 400 pound Bench Press
  • 300 pound Bench Press
These are all done on white poster board in a variety of colors going back to some dates as early as 1987 all the way through 2024 with Jeff Wenzel adding his name to a couple of boards.

Tony Lupo - Clark's
Jeff Wenzel - Clark's
Abe Smith - Clark's
Philip Marlin - Clark's
John Carter - Clark's 
Denny Habecker - Habecker's
Everett Todd (junior) - KCSTRONGMAN
Leroy Todd (junior) - KCSTRONGMAN
Sanjiv Gupta - High Country Vigour
Randy Smith - Clark's
Lance Foster - KCSTRONGMAN

Allison Lupo - Clark's
Lisa Gore - Clark's
Beth Skwarecki - Habecker's
Lilly Todd (junior) - KCSTRONGMAN
Phoebe Todd (junior) - KCSTRONGMAN

Clark's represented with 8 athletes (including the top 3 men and 2 of the top 3 women)
KCSTRONGMAN brought 6 athletes
Habecker's had 2 athletes
High Country Vigour had 1 representative

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