by Thom Van Vleck
Recently, Chad Ullom and myself traveled to Greenville, SouthCarolina to participate in the 2012 Master’s World Championships (MWC) of Scottish HighlandGames. Most USAWA members know Chad for his lifting. I knew Chad as a Highland Games athlete long before his decorated USAWA lifting career. As a matter of fact, I think I have competed with Chad in more competitions than any other athlete ever between our Highland Games exploits and USAWA meets! Chad just turned 40 and has made a bit of a “comeback” to his Highland Games roots to compete in the the MWC. In his first MWC he garnered a 4th place finish out of about 20 throwers in his class (40-44). I placed 6th in my group (45-49) which also had about 20 competitors. The overall competition had over 100 throwers! So, as you can tell, this is a very competitive group.
First, a quick primer for those of you who don’t know what the Highland Games are. There are 9 events that include Hammer Throwing, Weight for Distance throwing, stone putting (think “shot put”), and Weight Over Bar event, a sheaf toss, and the uniquely Scottish event, the Caber toss. This event involves picking up a tree trunk, running with it, then attempting to flip it end over end. You can win individual events, but the goal is the overall win which is much like the “total” in weightlifting.
Chad was in an extremely stacked class which was eventually won by Braidy Miller. Braidy has held the NCAA record in the discus and I believe the indoor weight and was an All American in those events and National Champion. He missed going to the 1992 Olympics by a fraction. But Chad was able to pull the caber win out in a decisive manner. As a matter of fact, only Braidy and Chad turned the caber at all and both of Chad’s turns were superior to Braidy’s. So, even though Braidy was victorious, Chad won the caber toss and to me, that is a special event to win due to it being the premier Scottish event!
I had hoped to win my 4th Weight Over Bar event at the World’s, but it was not to be. Still, 2nd place in that event makes me proud and I was so close to winning! But that will only make me work out even harder to get that title back next year! I would also like to point out that two other JWC members who aren’t USAWA members went with me and won titles. Jim Spalding won the under 200lb over 50 class and Bill Leffler won the 55-59 group. So the JWC did well!
So, now you know me and Chad’s secret. We put on skirts and toss telephone poles when we aren’t lifting in USAWA meets. But we have several USAWA brothers and sisters that have that “other” passion as well such as Dean Ross, Mike Murdock, Dave Glasgow, Scott Campbell, just to name a few! Chad and I are already making plans for next years MWC to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.