by Al Myers
HEAVY LIFT NATIONALS
Group picture from the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals. (front row left to right): Denny Habecker, Chad Ullom, James Fuller, Al Myers (back row left to right): Thom Van Vleck, Joe Garcia, Scott Schmidt, Randy Smith, Dennis Mitchell, LaVerne Myers (not pictured): Art Montini, Kohl Hess
Last weekend was a weekend I had been looking forward to for a long time! Mike Locondro, of York Barbell, had graciously invited us to be part of special day at York Barbell that included the York Hall of Fame induction of Slim “The Hammerman” Farman. The days festivities included many functions, and our meet was just a small part of the things going on. This report will only cover the Heavy Lift Nationals. I’m sure the other activities and special events will be covered in future USAWA Daily News stories – so I’ll save those for that time.
Due to this meet being contested at the “mecca” of weightlifting York Barbell, we had the largest turnout of lifters for a Heavy Lift Nationals in a long time. The attendees included some old veterans (Art Montini and Dennis Mitchell), some experienced Heavy Lifters (myself, Chad Ullom, Scott Schmidt, and Joe Garcia), as well as some newcomers to the Heavy Lift Nationals (James Fuller, Randy Smith and Kohl Hess). The judging crew was as good as it gets. These guys took their job serious and looked the part of competent officials as they were all dressed in the new USAWA Officials Shirts with black slacks. Our USAWA President Denny Habecker served as head judge and did an excellent job. Every lift was held for a count with a down command. All lifts were required to “become motionless” as the rules require before the down command was given. I don’t even recall a questionable lift being passed. Thom Van Vleck served as one of the side judges and seemed very focused on his duties all day. LaVerne Myers, my father and recent new USAWA Official, made his judging debut and looked the part of an old seasoned judge. These guys didn’t just sit in the chairs half asleep, but instead, got down on the floor to make sure the weights cleared the platform.
The officials at this meet were dressed in official judging attire. I felt their professional appearance provided a positive reflection on the USAWA. (left to right): LaVerne Myers, Denny Habecker, and Thom Van Vleck
Now on to the lifting! The first lift contested was the Neck Lift. The expectations were high for Chad Ullom, as he just recently did a 750 pound lift at the Club Challenge in Ambridge. Let me tell ya – he didn’t disappoint anyone! He opened with an easy 700 pound opener, and then jumped to an ALL-TIME WORLD RECORD lift of 810 pounds. He made it with ease. At this point, the largest crowd of the day that were watching our meet had gathered. For his third attempt he went for 850 pounds. It looked as easy as his opener. I was doing my best to get the crowd “fired up”. It didn’t take much prodding to get Chad to take a shot at 900 pounds, which is more than 90 pounds more than anyone had ever done in history. Chad didn’t waste any time in getting to it and made HISTORY by becoming the first man to ever Neck Lift over 900 pounds. And with this, broke the previous record THREE TIMES in one day. This amazing lift made quite the impression on several of those in attendance, as throughout the rest of the day he was receiving congratulations on his record lift. I’m tremendously happy for Chad and this record. There was no question on it being a good lift (I have a picture showing the weight off the platform and evidence recorded on video). It marked a great start of the day.
Following the Neck Lift, we were scheduled to take a break for the Hall of Fame Inductions and other performances on the main stage. This added to the difficulty of this meet. We had to constantly ”warm up” again for the next lifts as we had to take breaks throughout the day. The next lift was the Hand and Thigh. Joe Garcia showed everyone that he is still “King of the Hand and Thigh” by putting up the meet best lift of 1400 pounds. I was next in line with a 1300 pound lift, followed by Chad’s 1250. The last lift of the day was the Hip Lift. By this time, Joe had pretty much sealed the victory and the battle was for second place between Chad and myself. Chad has really progressed in the Heavy Lifts, and put up a 1800 which is a personal best. I managed a 1900 pound Hip Lift on my last lift to edge him out for second place overall. The interesting thing is that Chad, Joe and me all tied in total poundage with 3900 pound totals. But when the age and bodyweight corrections were made, Joe won fairly easily. I consider Joe one of the “top 3″ heavy lifters in USAWA History, and he proved it again at York.
There are several other lifters I would like to mention. What more can be said about Art Montini?? He makes all of his lifts look easy and you just have to scratch your head in disbelieve at the amount of weight he lifts at his age. He doesn’t seem to age, as his lifts are always as good as the year before. Dennis Mitchell was solid in everything. He does his Hip Lifts facing the bar (instead of straddling it), but uses this technique to his advantage. James Fuller made his first USAWA appearance, and what a trooper he is! This is not the best choice of a meet for your first outing in the USAWA, but James fit right in with the rest of us and with a little more specific training on these lifts he will be a force to be reckoned with. Randy Smith made the trip from Michigan with Helen and has showed tremendous improvement in the Heavy Lifts. Randy is now equipped with all the Heavy Lift Equipment, and I could tell his training had paid off. Scott Schmidt was a steady as ever. I know he was nursing a sore knee that held him back a little, but not once during the day did I hear him complain about it. Things like that impress me. He was there to support the event even when he wasn’t 100 percent. Scott has the spirit of a Champion, and every lifter has the utmost respect for him. After the meet was over, David “The Iron Tamer” Whitley from Nashville, TN, came over and signed up for the USAWA. David wanted to try for a record in the USAWA, and when I asked him what lift he wanted to do, he replied, “the bent press”. I was somewhat surprised as this is not an easy lift to do. But once David started his attempts it was clear to me that he had trained it before. His technique was picture-perfect, and even Bob Hoffman himself would have given it his seal of approvement. David went on to set the ALL-TIME best Bent Press with both arms with lifts of 137 pounds. I hope to see him again soon in the USAWA.
This event would never have happened if it was not for York Retail Manager Mike Locondro. Mike organized the entire event and even put on his suit to serve as the Master of Ceremony!
This meet turned out better than I expected. All lifters received beautiful awards for their Championship efforts. The meet T-Shirts were very special. The front of the shirts contained a picture of USAWA Heavy Lift Legend Dale Friesz performing a heavy Neck Lift. Dale was not able to be in attendance, but he deserves a big THANK YOU from all of us for providing the intial inspiration for making this event happen. His initial contact with York Barbell is what led to our involvement on this special day. Mike Locondro has already made his intentions known that he will be hosting this event next year, and in the process has extended another invitation to us. So – Heavy Lift Nationals may be held in York again next year. Put it on your calendar now!!!
2011 Heavy Lift Nationals
York Barbell, York, PA
May 21st, 2011
Meet Director: USAWA Executive Board
Lifts: Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Hip Lift
Officials: Denny Habecker, Thom Van Vleck, LaVerne Myers
NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. Total is total pounds lifted. Points is adjusted points for age correction and bodyweight adjustment.
EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORD:
Chad Ullom – Neck Lift: 900 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Left Arm: 137 pounds
David Whitley – Bent Press, Right Arm: 137 pounds
(Age 41 years, bodyweight 284 pounds)