Leadership Awards

by Al Myers

Tim Piper (left) presenting the Leadership Award to Denny Habecker.

Tim Piper (left) presenting the Runner Up Leadership Award to Thom Van Vleck.

The Leadership Award in the USAWA goes to an individual “that has shown exceptional leadership qualities within the USAWA during the past year.  Things that should be looked at are going above the level expected of an Officer position, promoting sanctioned events with emphasis being on promoting National or World Competitions, promoting the USAWA by developing a strong club, writing articles for publications about the USAWA, or through other means.”

The two winner of this award, and very deserving of it, were:

WINNER – DENNY HABECKER

RUNNER UP – THOM VAN VLECK

Both Denny and Thom were on hand to receive their awards at our National Meet Ceremony.  But then you would expect that out of them as they are leaders in the organization.  Their inputs at our National Championships was vital.  Thom served as the Head Official of the entire meet and did not compete because he would rather “give” than “take”.  Thom’s contributions of writing for the USAWA Website on a frequent basis has helped ensure it’s success.

Denny has been our USAWA President for many years now.  He is the ultimate leader of the USAWA.  He attends practically every big event promoted within the USAWA and the IAWA.  If a lifter does not know Denny it is because they are not very involved!  Denny attends meets all across the country and interacts with the entire USAWA membership.  At Nationals he sat in the officials chair WHILE he was lifting just because that duty needed attended to.   I think Denny is the best President the USAWA has ever had.

I’m glad to see the USAWA membership recognize these two for their contributions to the organization. They have earned it!

Lifter of the Month: Barry Bryan

Barry Bryan at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup (left) with USAWA President Denny Habecker (right).

by Al Myers

The Lifter of the Month for October goes to BARRY BRYAN for his outstanding performances in Art’s Birthday Bash.   I am so glad to see Barry “back in action” in the USAWA.   Barry is a joy to be around at meets – always helping out lifters, the meet promoter, or just assisting in any way he can.   He is a LEVEL 2 certified USAWA official, and has been involved in many National Championships.

Congratulations to Barry Bryan for being Lifter of the Month for October!!!!

Lifter of the Month: Denny Habecker

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker competing in the 2013 Presidential Cup, here performing a 165 pound Right Arm Ciavattone Grip Deadlift. Denny also promoted this meet in his gym, Habeckers Gym.

I know I’ve got a little behind on the Lifters of the Month – so I’m gonna take this week to catch up!  The Lifter of the Month for August was a pretty easy choice, and it goes to our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  Denny was the ONLY lifter to compete in ALL of the USAWA competitions in the month of August (World Postal Champs, Presidential Cup, Team Championships, and the Dino Days Record Day).   That’s a very busy month of competing!!  Denny is one of the most persistent competitors I have ever met – he doesn’t EVER take any “down time” from competition. 

We are very fortunate to have Denny as our President.  I regard him as the best President the USAWA has ever had, and that says a lot as there have been some excellent men in this position in the past.  A President should be someone who is very involved in the organization, and attends a wide range of events to interact with the membership and support USAWA promotions.  Denny goes beyond  the call of duty with this!!!

Congratulations to Denny for winning the USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH for the month of August!!!!!

Gold Cup

by Steve Gardner

Al Myers of the USA is presented with the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup, only the 2nd time the cup has been presented, Al won with an outstanding Power Row of 145 kilos.

What an outstanding event the 2013 Gold Cup turned out to be! despite losing a few entrants at the last minute we still had 16 IAWA Gold Cup Winners with their records broken on the day with a further 14 World Records to follow. Once again the event was put on in great style by meet directors Denny and Judy Habecker, and it was great to see everyone getting in there to help with setting up and tearing down afterwards. The loaders were just great as always, the referees worked well throughout and I was pleased to have my assistant Judy keeping check alongside me too!  The lifting was just great, where to start??

James Fuller of the USA was the Runner Up for the Howard Prechtel Memorial Trophy at the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup - seen here with an impressive lift ' The Bent Press' (Anyhow to Shoulders) with 60 kilos.

Denny Habecker showed he was still King of the Press, Barry Bryan was a knockout on the Bench Press lifts and Laverne Myers wowed everyone with his lifts especially the One Hand Fulton! Karen Gardner lifted light as she was still recovering from her latest Breast Cancer operation saga and Toni Saxton was competing for her first time ever, husband Graham must have been impressed as we all were with her Vertical Bar Strength. Art Montini was outstanding on the 2” bar and Al Myers was exceptional in the Power Row and Thumbless Deadlift. Jim Malloy showed real grit with his lifts, as did Dennis Mitchell, also recently recovered from surgery. James Fuller performed a wonderful Bent Press and followed with a big 2” Bar Straddle, whilst Graham Saxton pulled a great Middle fingers Straddle and then did a Hand and Thigh lift for his first time ever. Scott Schmidt was excellent with his Clean and Press Behind the Neck, and Dean Ross had fun with the Trap Bar and the Hip Lift for new records too! Chad Ullom was on great form with a great Clean and Jerk followed by IAWA’s heaviest ever Front Squat, and big Frankie Ciavattone brought proceedings to an end with a One Hand Ciavattone Deadlift and a big Hip Lift to follow.

The English Contingent at the 2013 Gold Cup World Record Breakers Event - 2nd November 2013. Steve and Karen Gardner - Toni and Graham Saxton (Toni was making her debut on a weightlifting platform - Well Done Toni)

The whole day was a real positive advertisement for all round weightlifting, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Howard Prechtel (the founder of the event) was remembered on the day by the presenting of the Trophy bearing his name. James Fuller was a great runner up with his tremendous Bent Press lift, but Al Myers took the trophy for his exceptional Power Row.  For those that were able to stay, the banquet that followed was excellent, and all who attended knew they had witnessed something special that day – the 23rd Annual IAWA GOLD CUP!                            

Best Wishes to all and heres to the next time – Steve Gardner

2013 Gold Cup RESULTS – IAWA 2013 GOLD CUP

My reflections on the Gold Cup

by Al Myers

Steve Gardner (left) and Denny Habecker (right) - two VERY IMPORTANT men in the IAWA.

I’ve just returned from the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  It was an exciting weekend!!  Today I’m going to give some of my reflections of “the cup”.  This is not intended to be a meet report as I have none of the meet results in hand yet.   That will be coming later.

The enjoyment of meets for me goes “way beyond” the day of lifting.  It includes the experiences of the travel, visiting with good friends, and learning new things about all round weightlifting.  And those things were in abundance with this trip!  My father LaVerne was traveling with me, along with training bud Chad Ullom.  We flew from KC to Harrisburg early Friday morning and arrived there before noon.  My dad has taken an interest in researching the family history of the Myers family, and he had planned out an afternoon agenda for this including meeting some relatives.  Our line of the Myers family settled south of Harrisburg near York Springs.   We visited a few cemeteries to confirm some of my dad’s research, and actually found the house of Nicholas II Myres (that is the way he spelled our last name!) who was the second generation Myers off the boat.   The house was built in 1795 and has been kept in excellent shape. We met the current owners who were quite helpful in our research – as they had a great interest in the history of their house.

After arriving in Lebanon finally after this long day, we were really tired so we decided to just grab a bite to eat and “hit the sack”.  I got a full 8 hours of sleep which I needed for the long meet day on Saturday.  The meet was held in a venue that Denny has had meets in before.  It has a big gym area with lots of lifting space.  Upon arriving, I soon met up with many all round friends.  It is amazing how many close friendships I have made thru the years from being involved in the USAWA/IAWA. The meet had a very good turnout – and I believe close to 20 lifters were on hand.    Steve and Karen Gardner, and Graham and Toni Saxton made the trip from England.  All four of them participated in the Cup representing the IAWA(UK).  I was so impressed by Karen even competing.  She has just recently had a serious surgery and I wasn’t even sure she was going to make the trip, let alone LIFT!  However, Karen’s support to the IAWA exceeds most everyone else’s and this proves it.  Steve was the first person on the platform doing his big Gold Cup lift in a finger lift, and then spent the rest of the day announcing and scorekeeping.   I’ve said this before but it  needs repeating again.  Steve and Karen Gardner and Denny and Judy Habecker are the FOUNDATION of our organization.  They are the ones that hold everything together in both the IAWA(UK) and the USAWA, and gives the IAWA the leadership that allows us to be successful and well-organized.   Judy spent the day helping keep score, and providing the “behind the scenes” work that made the day go smoothly. 

Graham Saxton of England performing a World Record in the Middle Fingers Straddle Deadlift.

I was glad to see Toni Saxton make it to the platform for the FIRST TIME.  She performed her VB lift perfectly.  Graham Saxton is as seasoned IAWA lifter as there it.  He did a huge middle fingers straddle deadlift, and a Hand and Thigh Lift (which I believe was the first time he has ever tried it?).  Graham also spent most of the day in the officials chair.  I consider Graham one of the best officials in IAWA and I know things will be “done right” when he’s judging the lifts.  The Gold Cup is intended to be an international competition, and the presence of these four from the Powerhouse Gym in Burton, England made it happen!

It was indeed a day of  “who’s who” in attendance.  The room was full of USAWA Hall of Famers and the elite lifters from our organization. I was very glad to see Jim Malloy there competing, as well as his Cleveland training partner Scott Schmidt.  These two Hall of Famers have been a mainstay in the history of the USAWA.  Speaking of Cleveland – I was REALLY surprised to see Dennis Mitchell returning to the platform so quickly following knee replacement.  Dennis has been a long time IAWA supporter and has attended as many IAWA events as any other lifter in the history of the organization, so a little “bump in the road” like a knee replacement wasn’t going to keep him away!  Frank Ciavattone made the trip to the GC as well.  Frank is another USAWA Hall of Famer and future promoter of the 2014 IAWA Worlds.  Frank performed one of his signature lifts – the one handed Ciavattone Grip Deadlift.   It’s always a pleasure to see Frank at work in a meet.  Another East Coast lifter – James Fuller – made his FIRST Gold Cup appearance.   Jim did the ever-difficult Bent Press Anyhow as his Gold Cup lift, and finished with a great lift of 60 kilograms.  I’ve always said the Bent Press is one of the most painful lifts to watch, and probably to do.

Frank Ciavattone performing one of his signature lifts, the One Arm Ciavattone Grip Deadlift, for a IAWA World Record.

The Dino Gym was well represented with myself, my father LaVerne, Chad Ullom, and Dean Ross being there to support the event.  LaVerne lifted exceptionally – with his One Arm Fulton Bar Deadlift impressing me the most.  I say that because he did 80 Kilograms and broke THE RECORD held by me!!!  Chad did two big type lifts for his GC lifts – the clean and jerk and the front squat.  Chad’s front squat of 211 kilograms broke the record held by current  OVERALL WORLD CHAMP Mark Haydock.  I kidded Chad by saying he was showing Mark NO RESPECT.  I might add that Chad did this wearing NO knee wraps Mark…….

Chad Ullom performed the last lift of the 2013 IAWA Gold Cup with this IAWA World Record Front Squat.

Barry Bryan did a couple of World Records in the bench press.  He made them looked very easy.  I was head judge on his lifts, and after I gave him a press command, he waited another second or two to press the bar.  I haven’t seen that happen very often before. Now who have I forgotten??  ART!!!   Art always ”steals the show” when he attends a meet.  Art, at age 86, continues to make it to all of the big IAWA meets and lift.  He performed a couple of Fulton Bar lifts and made them look ridiculously  easy.   He’s an inspiration to everyone.  

Afterwards, Denny and Judy planned a nice banquet meal at a local restaurant named Risser’s Family Restaurant (it was located in Myerstown!!).  It was a home-style feast that left everyone with a full belly.  Most of us then retired to Denny’s place for some post-meet celebration (actually just there to drink his beer haha).  Lots of good stories were told, parlor tricks were done by Steve and Chad, unbelievable tales were told by Al and Graham,  and Denny made all of our eyes water (mostly with his jokes….).

York Adjustable Krusher

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker and his York Adjustable Krusher.

When I was at Denny’s last month for the USAWA Presidential Cup I got to spend some more time in the Habecker’s Gym.  I really enjoy private club gyms as they have character (unlike commercial gyms), and often have interesting pieces of equipment in them that are “part of the collection” of the owner.  As I was nosing around in Denny’s stuff, I found just one of these neat collectable  pieces!  He had a York Adjustable Krusher. Most lifters would have no idea what that even is.

The York Krusher was a novelty piece of equipment that was intended to train the pectorals and the upper back.  Unlike the York Hercules Cable Sets which worked by pulling against steel strands (springs), the Krusher worked by pushing the handles together against spring tension. The Krusher was made out of cast aluminum and had the capacity to add up to 5 springs for added tension. The handles were straight which allowed a lifter to push them together from several different angles – in front, to the side, or overhead. 

Advertisement for the Krusher from an issue of Muscular Development.

I find it interesting that they named this device the Krusher (with a K) instead of Crusher.  Adds a like uniqueness to it from a marketing standpoint.  I gather it was first marketed in the early 60’s and  thru the 70’s from the advertisements in York’s muscle magazines at the time.  It was not advertised in their magazines prior to this.   Also interesting is that the Krusher was never really “pushed” in any of their magazine stories (that I recall, I may be wrong here).  It’s sole inclusion was the small ad in the back of  the magazines with a short advertising pitch.  I’ve heard a rumor (might be true) that John Grimek once suffered a bad eye injury when one of the springs in his Krusher came loose while he was using it and it snapped back into his eye ball!!   That’s the kind of thing Bob Hoffman would want to keep quiet when the lead spokesman for his company had that happen to him with one of their  products!!

The Krusher was never a big sell item for York, and this is the first one I had ever seen first hand.  They can still be found selling on ebay – I seen one selling for close to $300 recently.   I also don’t remember seeing the Krusher displayed in the York Museum.  Most of their other past historical training items are, so this must never had been a popular item for them.   

Next time I see Denny I’m going to ask him if he’ll consider putting his Krusher in his will to be willed to me!  And to remind him to wear safety glasses when he trains on it!

Presidential Cup

by Al Myers

MEET RESULTS & REPORT

2013 USAWA PRESIDENTIAL CUP

Participants in the 2013 USAWA Presidential Cup (left to right): Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, & LaVerne Myers

The second annual Presidential Cup only brought four lifters to the platform, but it was filled with some outstanding lifting performances in the host site, Habecker’s Gym.  This USAWA Championships crowns a Champion of the Record Days.   The basis of this honor is chosen by our USAWA President Denny Habecker on the Record lift that impressed him the most.  After all the dust had settled, our Prez made his decision, and the Champion of the Presidential Cup went to Art Montini with his unreal performance in the Teeth Lift.  I pretty much think all in attendance agreed to this choice!

Art Montini (right) and his Presidential Cup, awarded to him by USAWA President Denny Habecker (left).

The Teeth Lift is not a lift very many lifters would want to try a max lift in.  Art came to this meet with a new fabricated teeth bit all ready to set a new record.  He had worn his old one out!!!  Now that shows commitment to training the ole chompers.  He finished off with a lift of 107 pounds.  I should  remind everyone that Art is 85 years old, and soon to be 86!  I was going to say next that most people his age don’t even have their original teeth, but that applies to Art as well.  He did this with false teeth!  I guess that would build in a little safety margin – if you failed your teeth would just spit out with the bit!  Now that would be a sight to see.

There were also lots of other great lifting.  Denny performed a 176 lb. Hackenschmidt Floor Press and a 200 lb. Bentover Row.  LaVerne set a big record with a 232 lb. One Arm Deadlift record (breaking a mark held previously by Bill Clark), and did it using a Ciavattone Grip. He also did a 200 lb. Bentover Row and a one handed Thumbless Deadlift of 200 lbs.   I broke a couple of records held by my buddy Chad (since he wasn’t in attendance!) which included a 303 lb. Bentover Row and a 211# one arm Thumbless Grip Deadlift.  The highlight of my day was teaming up with my Dad in the Team One Arm Thumbless Grip Deadlift with a lift of 451 pounds.

LaVerne Myers pulling 232 pounds in the One Arm Deadlift, using a Ciavattone Grip.

This is a great event, and hopefully more lifters will attend next year.  Denny has agreed to keeping this as a fixture event in the USAWA.  Congratulations to all lifters who took part.

MEET RESULTS

2013 Presidential Cup
August 10th, 2013
Habeckers Gym
Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Meet Director: Denny Habecker

Scorekeeper: Judy Habecker

Officials (3 official system used on all lifts): Denny Habecker, Al Myers, Art Montini, LaVerne Myers, Judy Habecker

Al Myers – 46 years old, 235 pounds

Hackenschmidt Floor Press: 331 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 200 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 211 pounds
Bentover Row: 303 pounds

LaVerne Myers – 69 years old, 250 pounds

Deadlift – Left Arm: 232 pounds
Deadlift – No Thumb, Left Arm: 200 pounds
Bentover Row: 200 pounds

Denny Habecker – 70 years old, 187 pounds

Hackenschmidt Floor Press: 176 pounds
Deadlift – Right Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 165 pounds
Bentover Row: 200 pounds

Art Montini – 85 years old, 177 pounds

Hack Lift: 154 pounds
Deadlift – Left Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 122 pounds
Deadlift – Right Arm, Ciavattone Grip: 122 pounds
Teeth Lift: 107 pounds

Al Myers and LaVerne Myers – 45-49 age group, 115 KG Class

Team Deadlift – No Thumb, Right Arm: 451 pounds

Denny Habecker and Art Montini – 70-74 age group, 85 KG Class

Team Deadlift: 303 pounds

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom (center) receiving the 2012 USAWA Athlete of the Year Award from USAWA President Denny Habecker (left). USAWA Award Director Al Myers (right) also was involved in the presentation.

The TOP AWARD given out every year by the USAWA is the Athlete of the Year.  This award is “for the individual who has accomplished the most athletically within the last year in the USAWA.  Top placings at the Nationals and World Championships should figure in high. Also, participation in other Championship competitions such as the Heavy Lift Championships, the Grip Championships, the Club Championships, the OTSM Championships, the Team Championships, or the National Postal Championships could factor in.  Participation in elite IAWA events such as the Gold Cup or the IAWA World Postal Meet should make an influence on earning this award as well.”

The two winners this year were pretty much a “no brainer”.  These two lifters exemplified the above criteria to a tee.  They both are more than deserving of this prestigious award, which I consider the “Heisman” of the USAWA.  The winners are:

WINNER – CHAD ULLOM

RUNNER UP – DAN WAGMAN

They were chosen by a nomination/vote of the USAWA membership.  Chad and Dan together received over 90% of the votes cast, so I would consider them “landslide winners”.  Chad was SUPER ACTIVE in the USAWA this past year, winning or placing very high in so many meets that it would make a long list.  He added numerous titles to his USAWA resume.  He is “on pace” to be a future USAWA Hall of Famer.  I will try to remember as many as I can here:

2012 Dino Challenge Overall Winner
2012 IAWA Gold Cup  in Glasgow, Scotland  – World Record
2012 USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships – Overall Winner
2012 IAWA World Championships – World Class Champion and 2nd Overall
2012 USAWA Team Championships – part of Overall Winning Team
2012 IAWA World Postal Championships – part of Overall 2-man Winning Team
2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas – National Class Champion and 2nd Overall
2012 USAWA Club Championships – part of Overall Winning Club
2012 USAWA Grip Championships – Class Champion and 3rd Overall
2012 USAWA Postal Championships – Overall Winner
2012 USAWA Postal Series – Overall Winner

I didn’t even mention the numerous other smaller USAWA events that Chad participated in!   Chad’s  yearly success in the USAWA for 2012 could be argued as  one of the BEST years any lifter has ever had in the USAWA.  Runner Up Dan Wagman is just as worthy – as he took the OVERALL WORLD CHAMPION  TITLE at the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas.   That’s the biggest title any lifter in the USAWA/IAWA can win during the course of a year. Chad received his award at the USAWA National Championships, and I plan to present Dan his award later this summer when I will see him next.   Congratulations to both of these tremendous lifters.

LEADERSHIP AWARD WINNERS

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker receiving his Leadership Award in the left picture from Al Myers, and Al Myers receiving his Leadership Award from Denny Habecker in the right picture.

The Leadership Award given on behalf of the USAWA goes to individuals “that have shown exceptional leadership qualities within the USAWA during the past year.  This could be going above the level expected of an Officer position, promoting sanctioned events with emphasis being on promoting National or World Competitions, promoting the USAWA by developing a strong club, writing articles for publication about the USAWA, or through any other means of providing leadership within the USAWA.”

This year Leadership Award Winners are:

WINNER – AL MYERS

RUNNER UP – DENNY HABECKER

I was honored to share the stage with Denny in receiving this award from the USAWA.

COURAGE AWARD WINNERS

by Al Myers

Art Montini (right) receiving the Runner Up Courage from President Denny Habecker (left) at the 2013 USAWA National Championships.

The Courage Award, presented on behalf of the USAWA, goes to an individual who “shows the courage to overcome an obstacle in order to return to competition.  This may be a comeback from an injury, or just having to deal with difficult personal issues but still shows the courage to compete in the USAWA.”

The Courage Award Winners for this year go to:

WINNER – DALE FRIESZ

RUNNER UP – ART MONTINI

Several months ago the USAWA lost one of the TRUE SUPPORTERS of the USAWA, with the death of Dale Friesz.  Dale was actively involved in the USAWA for practically the entire time since the organization began.  He was at almost EVERY National Championships, and it was obvious that his passion for all round weightlifting was beyond that of the normal USAWA member.   I miss our weekly email correspondence – Dale always had ideas on how to better our organization.

We all know Dale has been the perennial winner of the Courage Award since the program started.  His persistence to continue competition despite  battling physical hardships and barriers were like nothing I’ve ever seen before, of which I’ve covered in details in previous stories.   Last year at Nationals in Vegas Dale truly gave the grittiest effort on the platform I’ve witnessed.  However, I was somewhat surprised to see Dale gather the most votes for this years Courage Award, considering he is no longer with us on the platform. This goes to show the respect Dale had from his lifting friends and those members of the USAWA to receive an award like this posthumously.  I’ve said this before, but it would seem fitting that the Courage Award in the future take on the name “Dale Friesz Courage Award” as Dale has set “the bar” for deserving it.

Runner Up goes to Art Montini – Dale’s ole friend and competitor.  Art continues to amaze everyone with his active meet participation at the age of 85! At Nationals Art visited with me about plans to attend the IAWA Worlds in England this fall.  His enthusiasm for all round competition is more than most guys a QUARTER of his age!

Thom Van Vleck: NEW Level 2 Official

by Al Myers

Thom Van Vleck (right) is joined by fellow USAWA officials LaVerne Myers (left) and Denny Habecker (middle) at the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in York in 2011. As you can see, these three took their judging duties very serious as they are getting "down and dirty" to get a good view of the lifting!

Thom Van Vleck has just been promoted to the highest level of officiating status in the USAWA.  He is now a Level 2 Official, and joins a very short list of the most qualified officials within the USAWA.  Since the development of the USAWA Officials Program in 2009,  officials must NOW be certified to judge any USAWA competition/event.    I would like to review a bit of this as it pertains to USAWA Rulebook:

VII. Officials

10.   There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

  • Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and completed the practical training sessions.
  • Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.
  • Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has completed the practical training sessions, and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.  

Thom has been officiating in the USAWA for close to 10 years and has officiated at some “BIG” meets.  He has officiated numerous championships events, including the 2006, 2009, and 2011 National Championships.  He also officiated at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.  He earned the Level 2 classification for officiating in over 25 events (as well as passing the USAWA Rules Test).  He is now awarded a LIFETIME OFFICIALS CARD in the USAWA and will have the ability to approve new officials that undergo the Practical Training Sessions.  Congrats Thom!!!

Denny in the NEWS!

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker makes the paper!

Denny Habecker makes the paper! Recently, our USAWA Denny Habecker was featured in the local Lebanon newspaper. Most don’t realize that Denny is more than just an all round lifter – he has also been very active in Olympic Weightlifting throughout his life.  He has been actively competing for over 50 years!  From this article, it states that Denny has competed in more than 330 competitions.   He has competed in England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, in addition to all over the United States.  He has been named to “the Top 60 Lebanon County Sports Individuals”.   He is the only lifter to have earned this honor.

Wilbur Miller

by Al Myers

Wilbur Miller pulling a 725# deadlift in York in 1965 (above), and then close to 50 years later pulling a 457# deadlift in 2012 at the Dino Gym (below).

Anyone involved with the All-Rounds in the midwest knows “the name” of Wilbur Miller.   I am very fortunate to know Wilbur personally, and he has been to my gym several times now.  He is an ICON amongst past strength athletes in the state of Kansas, and if I was voting,  I would vote him as the GREATEST ALL ROUND STRENGTH ATHLETE ever from the state of Kansas.  I know that’s saying alot, as there have been several others worthy of this distinction as well.  The reason I’m “putting my vote” on Wilbur is his diversity in strength and how he excelled in each discipline, whether it was Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting,  Grip, or All Round.  Recently, Wilbur was at the Dino Gym when some of the guys were doing Strongman, and he  commented to me how he wished that was around when he was younger.  I’m betting if it was, and Wilbur competed in Strongman – he would have excelled in that as well!

I’m glad to see Wilbur back into “action” in the USAWA.   The USAWA has alot to thank Wilbur Miller for.  He was a big part of the “grassroot movement” that started the USAWA and the IAWA.  At the time (late 60’s to mid 80’s), there were no organized associations for All Round Weightlifting like we have now with the USAWA, and the only option for this type of lifting (then known primarily as Odd Lifting) was within the Missouri Valley Region IV by Bill Clark promotions.  Wilbur often took part in these, and set at the time many Region IV records.   These records did not transfer into the modern day USAWA record book.   But if they did – many of Wilbur’s records would STILL be standing.

A little over a year ago, Thom Van Vleck wrote a nice biography about Wilbur for MILO (December 2011, Volume 19, Number 3).   I’ve told Thom that I thought this was one of his best Milo stories ever, but I know I am biased because of the respect I have for Wilbur and what he has done for All Round Weightlifting.  I want to highlight just a few of the things that Thom revealed about Wilbur in that story. However, if you are interested I recommend you order that issue of MILO, and it is worth it just for Thom’s story alone.

Wilbur was born in 1932 in Cimarron, Kansas.   That is the reason he acquired the nickname of “the Cimarron Kid”.  He was a gifted High School athlete – excelling in all sports.  It’s hard to believe but Wilbur ran the mile in Highschool.  He ran a best of 4 minutes, 33.6 seconds. In the state finals, he placed third behind two runners, Wes Santee and Billy Tidwell, who both went on to International Fame as World Class milers (that tidbit of trivia was not in Thom’s story, but rather told to me by Bill Clark).  Wilbur became interested in lifting at the age of 23, after injuring his back in a horse riding accident.  What started out  as physical therapy to recover from an injury turned into passion that lead to lifting greatness!  Wilbur was always known for having outstanding technique.  Thom titled his MILO story this way “Wilbur Miller: Lifting Perfection” because Wilbur was well-known for having perfect lifting technique.  Wilbur had a “story book” lifting career that propelled him into the Powerlifting Hall of Fame and the Weightlifting Hall of Fame.  My feeling is the only thing missing is that he should also be in the All Round (USAWA)  Hall of Fame!  After all, it was lifters like him (and a few others) that set the “groundwork” for the future of the USAWA.  Wilbur stills trains on York bars and plates that he purchased when he was a young man. I have a picture displayed in the Dino Gym that is “personally autographed” by Wilbur.  It is one of my favorites.  One of the reasons for this is that is because the bar is “fully loaded” with straps holding the plates on because there wasn’t enough room for the collars!  At the time the main plates available were Deep Dish York 45’s with wide-flanged rims which took up a lot of room on the bar.  Thom made this comment in his story which I think is worth repeating, “Some have claimed that the reason York quit making the deep-dish 4 and went to a thinner, sleeker version was because of Wilbur’s ability to max out the amount of weight on the bar with his monster deadlifts.”   Thom then went onto to say, “How would you like to be the reason the biggest maker of weights in the US had to change its design!”

This is that "autographed picture" in the Dino Gym that shows the plates loaded to the end of the bar!

Wilbur’s best lifts in competition were: 725# deadlift, 320# clean and press, 320# snatch (split-style), and a 385# clean and jerk.  Wilbur often competed in the 240-250 lb bodyweight range, which often put him as very light heavyweight because this was at the time that the heavyweight class started at 110 kilograms.  He often gave up over 100 pounds bodyweight to his competitors!  His 725 pound deadlift was an All Time Deadlift record at the time, and was done in 1965 in York, Pennsylvania.  He weighed 245 pounds in that meet.  I did some research on his best All Round lifts and this is what I found from an old Region VI Missouri Valley Record List.  Below is just a few of his records at the time:

LIFT RECORD
Middle Fingers Deadlift 320 pounds  (1983)
Hack Lift 650 pounds (1963)
Jefferson Lift 650 pounds (1963)
2-Dumbbell Deadlift 520 pounds (1984)
Strict Curl 180 pounds (1964)
Abdominal Raise 105 pounds (1962)
Miller Clean and Jerk 135 pounds (1979)

That last lift mentioned, the Miller Clean and Jerk, was named after Wilbur by Bill Clark in 1979.  It is that “dreaded lift” where a Clean and Jerk is performed by the middle fingers only!  It is a very painful lift!   Someday I will get Wilbur to demonstrate this lifted named after him for a picture.  I asked him to do it for me this past year, but he said it’s been awhile since he did it and he wanted to “train it” for a while before the photo op! I bet he’ll match his “bar and two plates’ for me like he did over 30 years ago!!!

Wilbur Miller (left) and USAWA President Denny Habecker (right) at the 2012 Dino Gym Challenge.

Wilbur currently has 7 records in the USAWA.  Like I said, those earlier Mo-Valley records didn’t carry over so these are records he has set recently.  All of them are in the 75-79 age group, 100-105 kg weight class.  I would like to see the lifter that can break these marks!!!

LIFT RECORD
12″ Base Deadlift 457 pounds (100kg class)
12″ Base Deadlift 450 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 397 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip 350 pounds (105kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 419 pounds (100kg class)
Deadlift – Heels Together 400 pounds (105kg class)
12″ Base Squat 320 pounds (100kg class)

I have MANY MORE things and stories I could tell about Wilbur here, but I don’t want my story to be longer than the one Thom did for MILO (another reminder – BUY that issue!).  I want to close this by saying a few words about Wilbur as a person.  He is an extremely modest and humble person and it takes a bit to get him to talk about his accomplishments in the lifting game.   It is very obvious that he truly loves weightlifting and the people involved in it.  When he’s been at the Dino Gym, he’s “all smiles” and just loves to be part of day.  He’s always offering words of encouragement to the other lifters. In today’s world of BIG EGOS and SELF PROMOTERS, there are  few around anymore like Wilbur Miller who lifts  for the “love of the sport”.  I consider him a great weightlifting role model and I try everyday to have the attitude and character that he has shown.

My tribute to Dale “THE MIRACLE MAN” Friesz

by Al Myers

Dale Friesz made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 USAWA National Championships last summer. This was Dale's 20th National Meet that he has competed in. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Al Myers, Dale Friesz

The USAWA will greatly miss Dale Friesz.   Dale’s passion for All Round Weightlifting and his love for the USAWA was “way beyond” that of  most lifters.  He was in a ”class of his own” in terms of dedication.  Several lifters “come and go” in the USAWA through the years, but Dale kept steady with his never-ending involvement.  I want to take today’s story to share my tribute to Dale with everyone.  I know lots of the newer USAWA members are not aware of the things Dale has accomplished in the USAWA.   Dale stated in his USAWA Hall of Fame biography that he got started in lifting by the encouragement of his brother Leonard.  Leonard had a stellar lifting career, and at one time was competing in Olympic Weightlifting in the Missouri Valley Region.  I remember seeing Leonard’s  name in numerous  past meet results.  Dale was influenced into becoming involved in the USAWA by two legendary USAWA lifters, John Vernacchio and Bill Clark.  This was also stated in his HOF bio.  I want to mention this footnote as well – when I was working on the project to get all USAWA Hall of Famers to have a biography on this website I set out questionnaires to each member which I based writing their bios on.  Dale was one of “the few” who wanted to write his bio himself, which he did.  He told me in an email he wanted it to be written right! (which I took as him not trusting me to get all the important facts and details in it!!!!) .  

Dale receiving the award for winning the FIRST EVER Presidential Cup in 2012. Dale is on the left, with the USAWA President Denny Habecker on the right doing the presentation.

Dales first competition in the USAWA was on November 11th, 1989, in a meet in Valley Forge, PA hosted by John Vernacchio.  Dale’s first year of USAWA membership began the very first year the USAWA began collecting dues – 1988.  Since that time Dale has had a CONTINUOUS membership in the USAWA (26 years!!!).  Dale always joined before the membership year began, and often he was the FIRST MEMBERSHIP for the year I would receive.  That’s a testament to his strong connection and support to the USAWA.  Dale is one of only four USAWA members that has maintained continuous membership in the USAWA (Bill Clark, Joe Garcia, and Art Montini are the others) since the organization formed.  This makes him one of the CHARTER MEMBERS of the USAWA.  At this past year’s Nationals, a very special award was given to Dale.  It was called the “25 Year Participation Award”, given to the lifters that have participated in the most USAWA National Championships in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dale had competed in 20 out of the 25 Nationals!!!  That’s an amazing track record!!  The other winners were Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dennis Mitchell.  Dale only missed the 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & the 2011 Nationals.  I was glad to see him involved in our 25th Nationals in Las Vegas last June.  I met him at the airport and I could tell that the flight had taken a toll on him, but he seemed very excited to be there and able to take part in this very important USAWA meet.  No matter how Dale felt physically, he always seem upbeat and glad to be taking part in the competition.

Dale performing one of his favorite lifts, the Neck Lift, at the 2009 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Lebanon, PA. This was the day that I got Dale to reveal his "neck lifting secrets" to me. He was the master of technique in the Neck Lift!!

Dale competed in several meets in Clarks Gym through the years.  His favorite was the Zercher Classic, which he competed in for the first time in 1991.  Dale had a good meet that day – placing one placing higher than Bill Clark!  The next year Dale returned to the Zercher and moved up a few places to fourth place out of 10 lifters (behind Steve Schmidt, John Carter, and Joe Garcia).  It was a tough field and had to be one of Dale’s best meets of his USAWA career. He raised his total by 735 pounds from the previous year. Then in 1994 he placed THIRD in the Zercher (his highest Zercher placing).    I know Dale was a big fan of this meet as he has provided me a complete historical review of all past Zercher Meets.  That’s one of the many reasons why I have often referred to Dale as the HISTORIAN of the USAWA even though it was a unofficial title.  He keep a record of this type of information and was always there for me when I had “questions”.  Much of the information on this website under the “history section” was researched and documented by Dale. Another one of his favorite “Clark Meets” was the Hermann Goerner Deadlift Dozen.  Dale has the distinction of WINNING the first ever Goerner Deadlift in 1995.  He beat such notable lifters that day as Rex Monahan, Joe Garcia, Al Springs and others.  I say it was one of Dale’s BEST EVER USAWA days – in addition to winning overall best lifter, he set his memorable 605 pound Neck Lift in a record setting session afterwards.  He was 55 years old and weighed 183 pounds that day. 

Recently I had received an email from Dale in which he commented how 2012 was, and I’ll quote him, “I consider this to be a decent year for me – as I broke 7 or so finger lift records (all previously set by someone with2 normal legs!), winning the Presidential Cup, and being named lifter of the month for August.  This made my efforts/pain worthwhile“.   He was looking forward to the year 2013.  Dale NEVER seemed to get discouraged, and always was thinking about his next competition.  I was so glad to see him win the Inaugural Presidential Cup last August.  His winning performance included a 154 pound Ring Fingers Deadlift with a prosthetic leg!  Later in the year I included this performance of his as one of the TOP TEN performances in the USAWA for the year 2012.  Dale sent me an email after that announcement thanking me, but he EARNED IT!

Dale performing the Pullover and Push in the 2010 USAWA Championships. This was the last meet Dale competed in before his leg amputation.

Dale has dealt with more physical obstacles than anyone I have ever known, and yet continued to train and compete.  The list is enormous and so long I have lost count.  But included is hip replacement, aortic reconstruction, back surgery with laminectomy, shoulder replacement, heart surgery several times, three heart attacks, numerous leg surgeries, and then the leg amputation.  I’m sure I’m missing many other health-related issues here.  It was common for Dale to compete in a big meet shortly after a major operation.  I remember once just a few weeks after open-heart surgery he was on the platform competing.  After his hip replacement, he was in a meet 3 months later.  This quote came from the Strength Journal from Dale before his hip replacement.  Dale said, “I always wanted to be like Tommy Kono and John Grimek and on February 12th, 2001, I’ll get me wish.  I’ll get a new hip.”  Dale always had a dry sense of humor when it came to things!  When he was staying at my place for the 2009 USAWA Nationals he “instructed me” on his medications so in case something went wrong I would be aware of what medicines he was on.  This was a list no shorter than 17 different pills!!!!  Dale’s mindset was like no other, and is the main reason he was awarded the Courage Award by the USAWA EVERY YEAR since the USAWA Awards Program  began in 2010. Before this, he was awarded the Ciavattone  Courage Award in 2004 by Frank Ciavattone, who gave out the award yearly to honor someone who showed great courage in remembrance of Frank’s dad.   I once  jokingly commented to Dale  that he’s won the Courage Award so many times it should be named after him when he’s gone!  Now…… I’m serious about that.

In 2009, the USAWA Nationals were held at the Dino Gym in Abilene, KS. Dale stayed at my house during that time and I will forever remember the stories that were told by Dale. This picture is from the meet of him performing a Cheat Curl.

Dale was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame in 2002.  His induction happened at the 2002 Nationals, held in Ambridge, PA.  I would like to share this story about Dale and his entering into the HOF by Bill Clark, someone who Dale had great respect and admiration for. “ When Dale Friesz showed up to lift at the USAWA Nationals in June in Ambridge, PA., USAWA President Howard Prechtel was prepared.  Dale needed to medal at the Nationals to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and Howard figured correctly that Dale would do that.  So much to Dale’s surprise, he was inducted into the USAWA Hall of Fame on the spot with the plaque already engraved in his name.  That Dale was even lifting in Ambridge was Hall of Fame material in itself.  In February, he spent 15 days in the hospital (six days in intensive care) and lost 21 pounds in 21 days from an already slender frame.  In a few weeks, he seemed on the road to recovery from what had been diagnosed as advanced vascular disease.  But, in May, along came what Dale called “Scary Story No. 2″ , viral heart infection, bronchial shutdown, pneumonia, liquid retention around the heart – back to the hospital for nine days.  And a matter of six weeks later, he was back on the platform earning his spot in the Hall of Fame.  I can assure you – no one was happier to be in Ambridge than Dale Friesz.”  – by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal Vol. XIII No. 3

Dale "in action" performing another one of his favorite lifts - the finger lift!

In 2006 at the USAWA National Meeting, the USAWA passed a rule requiring that all officials pass a Open Book Rules Test to be certified as an USAWA official.  Dale was the FIRST ONE to take and pass this exam.  He was one of the few LEVEL TWO officials in the USAWA.  He had a keen sense of the Rule Book, and kept up on it as things evolved.  Often he would “question” things in the Rulebook, and due to this, several discrepancies were found and corrected. Dale was never an officer in the USAWA, but his presence as a member exerted as much influence as any officer.  In my opinion, he was one of the TOP TEN most influential people ever involved in the USAWA.  He often served on committees, and provided valuable input.  His input on the HOF committee was instrumental in developing new guidelines for entry.  He also served on the Rulebook Review committee and was very helpful to me in the big Rulebook revision of 2009. In 2011 at my encouraging Dale registered his club with the USAWA.   He named it M&D Triceratops, and he was the only member.  Often at meets he would be wearing a ball cap or tshirt sporting his clubs logo.  I could tell this was something Dale was proud of, and it showed his commitment to the USAWA.

Dale’s favorite all round lifts were the finger lifts, the finger deadlifts, the Neck Lift, and the one arm deadlift.  I just did a USAWA record count of the number of current USAWA records Dale holds, and his count is at 160.  He holds records in 64 different USAWA lifts!  Dale was one of the original members of the CENTURY CLUB, a designation I gave to lifters who currently hold over 100 USAWA records.  The records he was most proud of were; 215# Ring Fingers Deadlift done at the 2001 Gold Cup, 354# Right Arm Deadlift done at the 1992 Gold Cup, and his 605# Neck Lift done at the 1995 Goerner. 

Dale’s National and World Meet Accomplishments:

2012 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 70-74
2010 Nationals 9th Place Overall
2008 Nationals 8th Place Overall
2005 Worlds Best Lifter Mens Master 65-69
1999 Nationals 6th Place Overall
1997 Nationals 7th Place Overall
1996 Nationals 10th Place Overall
1996 Nationals Best Lifter Mens Master 55-59
1995 Nationals 4th Place Overall
1992 Nationals 8th Place Overall

*plus numerous class/bodyweight National & World Championship awards*

Dale would often sign off his emails with these words, “Don’t let the USAWA die!!” That’s a promise that I will not let him down on. I owe Dale alot- he really helped me understand the historical importance of the USAWA and the philosophy of the organization. I will never forget Dale and his love for the USAWA and all round weightlifting. Often when I’m having a “rough day” in the gym, I think of Dale and the hardships he overcame with his lifting and it motivates me to keep positive and work harder. Afterall, my physical problems are NOTHING compared to what he endured when training!! I gave Dale the nickname “MIRACLE MAN” in several past blog stories. I know he appreciated that (he told me so) as it was given as a sign of respect to him in his ability to overcome serious physical  barriers miraculously.

Dale – YOU WILL BE MISSED! But I promise everyone this – I will keep Dale’s memory alive in the USAWA for as long as I’m involved.

National Championships

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUCEMENT
2013 USAWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2010 USAWA National Championships was also promoted by Denny and Judy Habecker. This shows Denny "busy at work" calculating the day's results while Frank Ciavattone is "looking over his shoulder" to make sure he doesn't make any mistakes!

Denny Habecker, the USAWA National Championships meet promoter, has just released the entry form for this years Championships.  It will be held the last weekend of June, which has become the traditional time of the year for the National Championships.  Denny is a very seasoned Championship promotor and has promoted several Championship events.  Every one that he has promoted that I have attended has always been done with upmost professionalism.  Denny always makes his events truly for the lifters.  Make sure to get this date on your meet calendar right now!

Schedule of  Events

Venue: Lebanon Senior Center , 710 Maple St.  Lebanon, Pa.  

Weigh-ins:7:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M. –Saturday and Sunday

Lifting starts:  9:30 A.M.

Lifts: Saturday – June 29, 2013

Deadlift – One Arm
Clean & Press – 12” Base
Pullover – Staight Arm
Continental To Belt

Lifts: Sunday – June 30, 2013

Snatch – One Arm
Pullover and Push
Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip

Entry Fee – $55.00
T-Shirt Included

Awards: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each weight class and Age  divisions for Masters, Juniors, and Women, Based on total poundage lifted. Best Lifter Awards for each age group in Masters, Juniors, Senior [20-39], and Women by Formula.

INFO PAGE – 2013 USAWA Nationals – info page

ENTRY FORM – 2013 USAWA Nationals – Entry

Top Performances of 2012

by Al Myers

Today I was thinking about all of the GREAT lifting performances done in the USAWA throughout this past year.  I have been fortunate to have witnessed many of these performances firsthand.  I’ve given it a little thought and I have came up with the LIST of PERFORMANCES that I have watched during this past year, and compiled my TOP TEN.  This list is completely of my opinion, and does not represent any official view of the USAWA.  It also only includes lifts that I have seen myself – as there are many other great lifts done in the USAWA that I did not have the privilege of viewing and thus are not on this list.  I have also  ranked them – but this was extremely difficult as they are all worthy of top recognition.  I might have well just “flipped a coin” to determine the order – but here it goes!!! I’ll even do the countdown from number 10.

10.  Doug and Jera Kressly’s Team Deadlift of 650 pounds.

Doug and Jera Kressly performing a Team Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Team Championships.

At this year’s USAWA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS, Doug and Jera entered the first Mixed Pair (male & female) team in the Championships history.  And to add to the drama of this – the two of them are married!  I was extremely impressed when we got to the last event, the deadlift, and they pulled 650 pounds. I was really worried Doug was going to let Jera down and not pull his weight on the lift!   

9.  Denny Habecker and his Clean and Jerk at the Gold Cup.

Denny Habecker at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

I’ve already told the story about Denny and his performance at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Scotland, despite being sick with the intestinal flu.  I was impressed that he would even attempt to lift feeling like that.  However, I DID NOT sit in the front row when he was lifting as I didn’t want to be in the path of any possible eruption! 

8.  Joe Garcia’s 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Deanna Meet.

Joe Garcia and his signature lift, the Hand and Thigh Lift, at the 2012 Deanna Springs Meet.

Garcia and the Hand and Thigh Lift are becoming synonymous.  You think of one and you have to think of the other.  I keep thinking one of these days Joe G will lose his touch with the H&T which will  give me the edge – but it doesn’t look like it will ever happen! I knew my chances of winning the Deanna  meet was over at this point.

7.  Dale Friesz and his 154# Ring Fingers Deadlift at the Presidential Cup.

Dale Friesz won the 2012 USAWA Presidential Cup with this lift.

Last year Dale “the Miracle Man” Friesz performed a 122# Ring Fingers Deadlift and I raved and raved about it.  Now he’s UPPED his record to 154 pounds – that’s over a 30 pound increase!  This was the lift that WON Dale the prestigious PRESIDENTIAL CUP this year.  I beginning to think there must be bionics in that prosthetic leg of his.

6.  Larry Traub’s 529# Jefferson Lift at the National Championships.

Larry Traub (left) receiving his award at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas, NV.

Everyone knows Larry is an “out of this World” deadlifter, but at the 2012 USAWA National Championships in Las Vegas he also showed he is quite good at the Jefferson Lift as well.  Larry is 58 and only weighs 200 pounds, which makes his lift all the more impressive.  It would take over a 630# Jefferson Lift for an Senior Age group lifter (at the same BWT) to beat Larry in this lift with the age correction.  We make lifters weigh to verify their bodyweights, but we don’t make lifters show their ID’s to verify their ages.  Larry looks like he’s only 30.  Maybe it’s time for him to be “carded” at the next meet?

COMING TOMORROW – THE REST OF THE TOP PERFORMANCE COUNTDOWN!

Lifter of the Month: Denny Habecker

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker "in action" at the 2012 IAWA Gold Cup in Glasgow, Scotland.

The month of  November for All-Round Weightlifting contained one of the biggest IAWA events of the year – the Gold Cup.  This year the Gold Cup was held in Glasgow, Scotland.  The USAWA had three representatives at that meet, one of which showed “true grit” in even making it to the platform.  For this, the USAWA Lifter of the Month for November goes to our USAWA President Denny Habecker!

This is the photo proof that Denny was "feeling under the weather" at the Gold Cup!

First of all due to Hurricane Sandy, Denny had travel difficulties even making it to the Gold Cup.  His flight got rerouted through Germany, and it took him 24 hours to even make it to England before the drive to Scotland.  To make his situation even worse – the night before the meet he came down with severe intestinal flu which would have keep most normal lifters away from the platform.  However, Denny is a true champ and  he wasn’t going to let a minor inconvenience like this keep him away from the meet.   When it was his time to perform his Gold Cup lift – he made his lift in excellent fashion.

Congratulations to Denny Habecker for winning the November Lifter of the Month!!!

25 Year Performance Award

by Al Myers

Award winners for the 25 Year Performance Award - Al Myers (left) & Art Montini (middle). Denny Habecker (right) presented this award during the USAWA Awards Ceremony.

It was a great honor to “share the stage” with Art Montini in receiving the 25 Year Performance Award.  This award went to the 2  lifters who have won the most Overall Best Lifter Awards at the National Championships over the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Art and I have 4 apiece.  My years – 2010, 2009, 2008, & 2006.  Art’s years were – 1995, 1993, 1992, & 1991.

I have a long ways to go to “fill Art’s shoes”.   Art’s last Overall Best Lifter Award in 1995 occurred when he was 67 years of age!  His first was when he was 63.  I have to do some checking to verify this fact, but I’m pretty sure that that he is the oldest lifter to ever win this prestigious title.  It is simply amazing everything Art has accomplished in the USAWA over the last 25 years, and when you realize that all of this lifting success happened after the age of 60 it even makes it more unbelievable!

25 Year Participation Award

by Al Myers

Winners of the 25 Year Participation Award: Denny Habecker (left), Art Montini (middle), and Dennis Mitchell (right). Missing from this picture is Dale Friesz.

As part of our yearly USAWA Awards Ceremony, this year it included several “special awards”.  These were awards that were presented by the USAWA for accomplishments over the entire 25 history of the USAWA.  That’s quite a hard award to win – it is the result of years and years of effort and contributions!  The lifters that won these awards are the TRUE LEADERS of the USAWA, and it is only the right thing to do to thank them by recognizing them with these special awards.  The first 25 YEAR AWARD given out was the participation award.  This award went to 4 individuals – Dennis Mitchell, Denny Habecker, Art Montini, and Dale Friesz.  These guys have competed in over 80% of the USAWA Nationals in the 25 year history of the USAWA.  Dennis leads the pack with an amazing 24 of 25 (only missing the first year in 1988).   Denny has been in 23 of 25 (only missing the first two years, 1988 & 1989).  Art is third in this race with competing in 21 of 25 (missing 1997, 2004, 2006, & 2011).  Dale rounds out this field of “superstars” with a record of 20 of 25 (missing only 1988, 1989, 2000, 2006, & 2011).  I would have to say that these lifters have had “amazing runs” of National Championship entries and will be a “tough act” to follow for future USAWA lifters.   Congrats!!!!

Leadership Award

by Al Myers

TOP: Denny Habecker receiving the Runnerup Leadership Award (right), presented by Al Myers (left). BOTTOM: Chad Ullom "stepping in" to accept the Leadership Award in Thom Van Vleck's abscence (right). Again, the presenter is Al Myers (left).

Another very important award given out during the USAWA Yearly Awards Ceremony is the Leadership Award.  This Award is for individuals that have shown exceptional leadership qualities throughout the year in the USAWA.  Both of this year’s winners are indeed worthy of this award!  The Leadership Award Winners are:

WINNER – THOM VAN VLECK

RUNNERUP – DENNY HABECKER

It was a shame that Thom was not present in Vegas to receive this award, because of all that he has done for the USAWA it would have been nice for him to get this recognition first hand.  Thom has been very instrumental in helping with this website, as well as taking on the promotion of the USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships.  Last year he hosted the very first OTSM Championships and it was VERY successful. 

Denny should be a yearly candidate for this award because of the unselfish and unrelenting effort he constantly pours into the USAWA.  Being the USAWA President is a never ending job, and Denny performs it to perfection.  He deserves more credit than he often gets, so I was VERY excited to see him win this award and get this recognition.

CONGRATS THOM AND DENNY!!!

Dumbbell Swing vs. Kettlebell Swing

by Roger LaPointe

Denny Habecker performing a Dumbbell Swing at the 2012 USAWA Club Challenge in Ambridge Barbell Club with an "old-style" 75 pound Jackson Globe Dumbbell.

Everyone knows that kettlebells are extremely popular right now. With that popularity has come a re-introduction of some old exercises and lifts, especially the kettlebell swing. While the one hand and two hand versions of the kettlebell swing are great exercises, they are not competitive lifts.

What is the competitive lifter to do?

Keep training with those kettlebells, as they are great tools. However, now it is time to haul out your Plate Loading Olympic Dumbbell for the Dumbbell Swing. The Dumbbell Swing has rules and records in the USAWA. What makes it a lift great lift is the relative ease of judging a good lift. Basically, it is one of those lifts that is clearly locked out overhead.

To give you an idea of how much a really good lifter can do with a One Hand Swing, we turn to two time Olympian (1932 and 1936) Stanley Kratkowski. As a middle weight (165 pound) lifter, in 1934 Kratkowski held the Right Hand Swing US Record of 178 1/2 pounds… Not too shabby. In the modern All-Round Association, the current World Record is 78.3 Kg (172.6 lbs.) in the 75 kg (165 lbs.) weight class, by R. Meldon of Great Britain. Looking at the other weight classes, I believe there is considerable opportunity for improvement in this lift.

I have found the two hand kettlebell swing to be a really fantastic training exercise for the one hand swing. As a shorter athlete, I find that my grip is the first thing to go. With the two handed kettelbell swing I can concentrate on that triple extension, really working my hips back and neck. The two handed nature of the lift also lends a balance to the body, decreasing spinal torsion issues associated with one handed lifts. As it is an exercise that does not exactly replicate the competitive lift, this is something that I would do for higher reps, particularly working some portion of the lift where I have identified a common problem. Achieving full extension of the hips seems to be a problem for many lifters.

Live Strong, Roger LaPointe

Masters Pressing

by Roger LaPointe

At the Atomic Athletic Meet last fall, the Clean and Push Press was contested. Longtime masters lifter Denny Habecker knows how to press!

Fans of the now defunct Hardgainer magazine will remember John McKean. He is an avid All Round and Olympic style weightlifter who has been competing and setting records as a Master’s age athlete for … some time. Now that I am well into the Masters realm, John gave me some great advice, “Don’t hurt yourself. When you do, work around it and learn.”

That sounds like the most obvious truism ever. As a Masters Age lifter, it is reality.

Right now, while I am primarily an Olympic style weightlifter, I am focused on improving two somewhat related lifts: the crucifix and the clean & press. With these lifts as the primary ones I am working on for a 1-Rep Max, here is a small snapshot of what I am doing to help in that regard.

1. I always work the Indian clubs, for my messed up rotator cuff.
2. I still do snatches and full cleans, as well as a number of related accessory lifts, such as: overhead squats, front & back squats, clean grip and snatch grip pulls.
3. I added in the clean & press as well as the crucifix.
4. I also added in bent over rows.
5. If my back is not recovering as quickly as I need it to be, then I do the incline bench press and incline dumbbell fly.
6. I still do curls and stomach work.

The key is to listen to your body. Especially with orders of weights coming in and going out, I don’t get too hung up on sticking to some pre-determined workout. If something is going really well, then I go with it. If it is not feeling good, I switch it up and work around it.

Tourism Ambassador Award

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck accepting his Ambassador of the Year Award from the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce. (photo courtesy of KTVO)

Thanks to the USAWA, I was greatly honored by the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce the other night.   For the past 15 years I have held dozens of Highland Games, strongman contests, and helped the Irondogs with powerlifting and olympic lifting meets that have brought a lot of people to Kirksville.  I never really thought about it until this award came up, but many would have never come to Kirksville had these events not been held.  To be honest, I just wanted to host meets and have some fun!   My goal financially has always been to break even….and even that goal isn’t always met!  Those of you who have run meets know what I’m talking about!  I never thought about the fact I was bringing tourism to my hometown. 

So why do I want to thank the USAWA?  Because promoting the Nationals in Kirksville last year seems to be the event that got me recognized by the C of C!  Some of you that attended were kind enough to write a thank you letter to the C of C as they helped me out with the meet.   Those letters were so good, they put me up for the award and I won!  There were about 200 of Kirksville’s best at the annual banquet where I got my award.  Debi Boughton, head of tourism for the C of C introduced me, talked of the games and the meets I have promoted, and then read a couple of the letters send by USAWA letters.  The first letter was from Chad Ullom and the second one was from Denny Habecker and his wife.   These letters mentioned business that had several representatives in the crowd.   I gave a little speech, plugged my events for the coming year, and thanked the C of C for helping me as well as the local sponsors who’ve been so good to me over the years. 

Afterwards, I was interviewed by the local paper and the local television station.   I also was asked to speak at the local Rotary clubs (there are two in town) and do an hour long interview at a local radio station!  I have to say, I felt like a real BIG SHOT!  I was just a great opportunity to promote my Highland Games (that’s my real passion), but also to solicit new volunteers, sponsors, and competitors.  One of the people that approached me after the award ceremony wants to try his hand at the Highland Games!  New blood is always a good thing. 

Afterwards some friends took me to the Dukum Inn for a celebratory round of drinks and soon I was home in time to catch the evening news with a story on my.  Leave it to one of my kids to bring “Ol’ Dad” back down to earth.  After the news showed me giving my speech and talking about the award my youngest son said, “Yeah, Dad….now can we turn it back to my show”!  

So, thanks USAWA for “putting me over the top”.  I think a lot of good things will come out of this award, some new sponsorship, some new help, some new spectators, and maybe even a new competitor or two!  I am hosting the Old Time Strongman Championships again this year and the Chamber wants to help me on that one, too.   So come back to Kirksville, or come for the first time!  More USAWA events are to come! 

http://www.kirksvilledailyexpress.com/features/x1251827843/Kirksville-chamber-honors-Tate-others-for-local-service

Updated Rules Test

by Al Myers

USAWA President Denny Habecker (left) and the late Wilf Chapman (right) of Australia officiating at the 2007 IAWA World Championships in New Zealand.

I just want to announce that the USAWA Rules Test has been updated. The USAWA Official’s Director Joe Garcia and myself have made a few changes to the Open Book Rules Test that must be passed in order to become an USAWA Certified Official. Joe had identified some “bad questions” on the old exam and these questions  have been changed or modified.  Now I’m not saying we made the test easier – because a few new “hard” questions were added as well.  From this point on, this new test must be the one taken.  Don’t fill out and send in the old test!  If you do, you will be asked to take this new one instead. So this is YOUR WARNING!!!!!  Also, due to some rule changes in the past couple of years, the answers to some questions have changed. This new test is much improved, with very few “open ended” questions. 

There are actually rules for the Rules Test.  Since there are no questions covering these rules of the Rules Test in the Rules Test (wow, say that three times quick!), I’m going to go over them.  This is taken from Section VII of the USAWA Rule Book as it applies to the Rules Test:

10.   There will be two levels of classification for Certified USAWA officials.

  • Level 1 Test Qualified – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test.
  • Level 1 Experience Qualified – The official has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.
  • Level 2 – The official has passed the USAWA Rules Test and has the experience of officiating in 25 or more competitions or events.  

11.   The USAWA Secretary will maintain a list of certified officials, their level of classification, and their active/inactive status. This list will be available to the membership.

12.   The USAWA Rules Test will consist of 100 open book questions regarding rules within this rulebook.  The test must be completed and returned to the Officials Director to be judged.  There is no time limit in taking the test. To pass the test, an applicant must score over 90 percent.  The Officials Director will inform you only of a pass or fail.  You will not be told the questions you missed. If you fail, you may retake the test as many times as you like.  Once an applicant has passed the test, the Officials Director will inform the USAWA Secretary to include you on the list of Certified USAWA Officials.

13.  Once an official has passed the Rules Test, the Officials Director will issue an Officials card that will be valid for 3 years from the date the official passed the test.  Level 1 Test Qualified Officials will be required to retake the Rules Test after 3 years to maintain Certified Official Status. Level 1 Experience Qualified Officials will receive an Officials card that is valid for 3 years and will be automatically renewed unless the official has been inactive as an official during the previous three year period, in which a new Officials Card will not be issued unless the individual makes a written request to the Officials Director. Level 2 Officials are exempt from recertification, and are issued a lifetime officials card.

14.   An individual must make a written request to the Officials Director in order to apply for Level 1 Experience Qualified Certified Status and provide proof that the individual has the 25 competition experience requirement. This also applies to an official who wants to change their level of certification from Level 1 Test Qualified to Level 2.  

 In a couple of years  (2013) we will begin to have a few officials that will need to renew their certification.  Joe and I have discussed this, and we have decided that we will work up a new test in a year from now.  This way those re-certifying will have a new and different test to take.  I’m sure some questions will remain the same or just be changed slightly.  I KNOW  myself  (and Joe) will hear some complaining and bellyaching when this happens, but THAT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS in order to have a good officials program.  Our officials program already lets the “experienced” officials “off the hook” when it comes to taking the Rules Test.  That is why there is that “25 event” loophole in the rules now.   My opinion is that EVERYONE should be taking the test and this is why – we have over 200 official lifts in the USAWA, and the rules are being changed and amended every year now, plus new lifts are being added.  Even the experienced officials have to “stay on top of things” in order to be a good official.   The main reason of the Rules Test is to insure that the officials are familiar with the current USAWA Rulebook.   All the questions on the test can be “looked up” and answered, since it is an open book exam.  This process FORCES someone to at least know where to look for the answers to judging questions or where the individual lifts rules are located in the Rulebook.  Since I’m on a “soapbox” right now, let me tell you about another gripe I have with officiating (besides the USAWA and IAWA(UK)  rules differences).  First of all, wrong calls on lifts will always be made by officials.  I even see it watching NFL games with instant replay, and these guys are paid “big bucks” to be professional officials.  Making a bad call doesn’t bother me – and I believe the officiating is as good in the USAWA as it ever has been.  Judgement calls are judgement calls – and everyone sees things differently. What bothers me is when “experienced officials” really don’t even KNOW THE RULES.  That is inexcusable.  All you have to do is have a rulebook and READ THE RULE of the upcoming lift before sitting in the chair.  I watch outstanding seasoned officials like Denny Habecker and this never happens to him, and this is why.  He is always carrying his Rulebook with him when officiating  and reads over the rules for the upcoming lift (which he probably knows like the knurling on his favorite bar) just TO BE SURE he hasn’t forgot something.  That’s what it takes to be an outstanding official!!!

This new Rules Test is located on the website under “USAWA Information – Officials & Rules Test” .

The Secret to my Strength

by Thom Van Vleck

My lovely wife, Kelly, serving up cake at the USAWA Nationals hosted by the JWC. She is the icing on my cake!

I have a secret to my strength, however much of it I have, and I owe it to someone special in my life.  It has nothing to do with secret supplements, or special workout routines, or coaching I have received,  but everything to do with the source of my motivation to be successful in life.  It’s my wife.  And since we are celebrating our 21st Anniversary this week (and more importantly to me the 25th Anniversary of our first date and the “real” first day or our life journey!!!!) I wanted to give her the credit she deserves.

My awesome wife, Kelly, by my side. She not only makes me feel younger but I even look younger.

Like a lot of us, we have a wife that puts up with what we do.  Some are more supportive than others.  I have admired some of the older guys in the USAWA and their how their wives seem to support what they do, like Dennis Mitchell and Denny Habecker. My wife takes care of a lot of the “behind the scenes” things at the numerous meets I run and I’m lucky to have someone who understands that my training is part of who I am and without it, I’m much less of a man.  I really need it to stay balanced and focused and my wife let’s me do that.

So, thanks for letting me give credit to someone who had been there by my side for 25 years….but let’s all take some time to thank those who help us out and let us do the things we love to do!   A solid partner in life is maybe the most important ingredient to success.  Thanks Kelly, for choosing to be mine!

Training at Habeckers Gym

by Al Myers

Habeckers Gym (left to right): Al Myers, Denny Habecker

I had the opportunity to train at Habeckers Gym following my trip to York, PA a couple of months ago.   I always like to train in other gyms which are set up to  have the same training focus as my gym.  All Round lifting is quite different than general weight training, and unique equipment is needed to be able to practice the lifts that we have in our competitions.  Most big commercial gyms are not geared to provide this.  These big gyms may have LOTS OF STUFF – fancy machines, shiny bars, and ergonomic designed plates – but when it comes to doing lifts like the heavy lifts or even a common All-Round lift like a Zercher Lift, they can not be done.  For the Heavy Lifts it is because of lack of this special equipment (heavy bar and belts) and for the Zercher Lift it is because of liability issues!  (Try doing a Steinborn in a Commercial Gym and you will soon be showed the door!).  Denny’s gym is not a large gym, but has everything I would need to get in a good workout.  He didn’t even mind me using chalk! (which ALSO is often not allowed in commercial gyms).

I had a very good workout doing some heavy floor presses off a couple of old tires!

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to train with Denny.  I have been to many meets with Denny, but when you train with someone it is different altogether.  I hope to get the chance to train at all the USAWA Clubs someday.  I learn something new every time when I am in another gym training with other lifters.   And how many lifters get to say, “I got to train at the gym that was the USAWA Club of the Year!”

Habeckers Gym: Club of the Year

by Al Myers

Habeckers Gym won the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year Award. (left to right): Denny Habecker, Al Myers, and Thom Van Vleck.

The only USAWA Award that was preannounced before the awards banquet was the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year.  However, I still think a few words should be said about Habeckers Gym, which is the USAWA Club of the Year for 2010.  Habeckers Gym is a club ran by our USAWA President Denny Habecker. Points are generated throughout the year for various activities and events that add to a club’s total, with the club gathering the most points declared the Club of the Year.  The previous year’s Club of the Year is not eligible, but has the honorable distinction of presenting the award to the new winner.  I was honored (the Dino Gym was the 2009 USAWA Club of the Year) to be able to make this presentation to Denny and Habeckers Gym.  Our club program has grown considerable this past year with many new clubs involved, thus the competition for this award is getting stronger.   I really believe the future success of the USAWA hinges on increased club activity, and Habeckers Gym is the example to follow. 

As I said, several factors play into gathering points for a clubs total.  Club membership is a big part of it.  Each USAWA member that lists on their membership application the club they are part of adds one point to the tally.  Habeckers membership during 2010 included these 5 members: Denny Habecker, Judy Habecker, Barry Bryan, Andrew Hess, and Kohl Hess.   Points are also accrued for those club members that participate in the big events – Worlds, Nationals, and the Gold Cup.  Promoting sanctioned events and competitions also gain points for the award total, and bonus points are earned for putting on big events which the Habeckers did in 2010 with the promotion of the National Championship.  

A runner-up Club of the Year Award was also given.  Again for the second year in a row, Ambridge VFW BBC was the recipient.

USAWA Records from Past Nationals

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker "padded" his lead in the most USAWA Records set at the National Championships with this Zercher Lift of 231 pounds. It broke the record held by Andy Komorny from the 2003 Nationals of 230 pounds.

As promised, today I am going to highlight those USAWA Records that were set at National Championships. To me setting a record at Nationals is a much harder endeavor.  The pressure of competition is on, the judging is the best it gets, and the day of competition is long.  It is not like a record day where you can warm up as you please, and then take your time to pace yourself for a maximum effort in achieving a new record.  That is easy compared to “taking down” a record on a big stage like the National Championships.  Truthfully, there should be a separate list just for records established at the Nationals because of the difficulty it takes of getting a record at this meet. When I watch the Olympics I always notice that there are Olympic Records (which are separate from American and World Records) for the events.  I’m sure the reasons for this are the same as what we have -because it is way more difficult to set a new World or American Record at the Olympics, and there is merit to setting an Olympic Record as well.  (Maybe I can talk our Record Chairman Joe Garcia in setting up a different Record List just for records set at the National Championships???)   Irregardless, I looked over our USAWA Record List and was surprised how many records we have “on the books” from National Championships.  I counted 1843 records (out of close to a total record count of 10,000) that were established at past National Championships.  That number is approaching close to 20% of all records set.  I didn’t think it would be that high, but when I looked it over I could tell that the quality of these records was very high.   Overall, I counted 169 lifters who have possession of at least 1 USAWA Record that was set in the Championships. Now onto the lifters that own the most!

TOP TEN LIFTERS

RANK RECORDS LIFTER
1 94 Denny Habecker
2 77 Art Montini
3 73 Dennis Mitchell
4 (tie) 63 Noi Phumchaona
4 (tie) 63 Howard Prechtel
6 57 John McKean
7 54 Frank Ciavattone
8 51 Jim Malloy
9 50 Dale Friesz
10 37 Randy Smith

Now that is a lineup of “heavy hitters” in the USAWA!  Honorable mention should go to these lifters who just missed the list: Chris Waterman (36 records), Joe Garcia (34 records), and Bob Geib (34 records).  I was surprised about some great USAWA lifters who didn’t make the list – but the reason was that these lifters didn’t compete in enough Championships to get their numbers added up.  Longevity counts for something!  The lift from Nationals that has the most records in it is the Clean and Press, heels together with a count of 90.  The next four were the Pullover and Push (86), One Arm Snatch (85), the One Arm Deadlift (82) and the Zercher Lift (79).

Zercher Lift: A Missouri Original

 by Thom Van Vleck

Denny Habecker completing the Zercher Lift. Denny will be at the 2011 USAWA Nationals where this lift will be contested

When I was selecting lifts for the 2011 USAWA Nationals to be held June 25 in Kirksville, Missouri I very carefully selected my lifts.  I was trying to get a good mix from each of the major categories.  I wanted a thick bar lift (Continental to Chest), a dumbbell lift/one arm lift (DB Snatch), a power type lift (Deadlift 12″ base), a miscellaneous lift (Cheat Curl), a pressing movement (Pull over and Press), and a squat movement.  For the squat movement I picked the Zercher!  I also wanted all the lift to come off the floor so that the meet could move along quickly and I was not sure how many spotters I would have.

While the list was then passed on the USAWA board to approve and they did approve it the only one that was questioned was the Zercher.  Not because it’s a “bad’ lift, but because it’s been used several times before and there was just some thought that maybe we should “mix it up” a little.  The problem for me was this was the ONE lift I felt I HAD to have in my meet.  The reason:  The Zercher was named after Ed Zercher and he’s a true MISSOURI born strongman!

The man himself: ED ZERCHER, one of Missouri's greatest strength athletes!

One of the things I like about the USAWA is it’s respect for history and the desire to make sure many of these lifts from bygone years are remembered and practiced.  Many of them have real merit and are often “rediscovered” in modern times.  Look at Kettlebell lifting!  My grandfather used to do Kettlebell training when I first stared lifting in the 1970’s and I remember thinking how “old fashioned” that was and he needed to get “modern” if he wanted to get strong!  How naive I was!   The Zercher has made a bit of a comeback for that same reason……in a way!

Many modern lifters have begun to do what they call “Zerk’s” or Zercher Squats.  They take a weight out of low squat rack or power rack, squat with the bar in the crooks of the arms, and then reload it on the rack.  This has become a variation that some lifters use in a mix with front and back squats but it is also one that guys have added that have trouble holding the bar in the front squat position or some other injury the precludes regular type squats.  But of course, as “Ol’ Clark” himself would tell you…..THIS IS NOT A ZERCHER!  Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing “Zerks” and they are a fine exercise to anyone’s repertoire of lifts.

There were some guys recently discussing “Zerks” on a message board and I got on there and pointed out the difference in what I thought was a polite, informative way.  One of them blew up!  He thought I was being petty bringing up the difference.  But to me, Ed Zercher developed that lift and we need to honor the man by keeping things straight!  With that said, here’s the rules for the Zercher lift:

C8.  Zercher Lift
The bar starts on the platform and at the lifter’s discretion the bar is deadlifted to a position where it may be supported on the knees or thighs.
Feet placement is optional, but the feet must be in line with the torso. The lifter will then bend down, with the bar resting on the legs, to a position in which the lifter is able to secure the bar in the crooks of the elbows. The lifter will then stand erect with the arms bent and the bar fixed at the articulation of the upper and lower arms.  The lifter’s arms may be inside or outside of the legs. The hands may be locked together. Once the bar is
motionless, the legs straight, the body erect with shoulders upright, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The bar must be returned to the platform under control for the lift to be complete. It is acceptable to drop the bar once it is below the level of the knees provided that the hands follow the bar to the platform.

So, come to Nationals and help me honor one of Missouri’s greatest Strongmen!  Let’s Zercher!

Ravenswood Formula

Thom Van Vleck flashes the "Red Light" at USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals as Head Judge Denny Habecker looks for the call. USAWA officials have a lot more to do than judging the lifts. There's a lot of math involved as well!

by Thom Van Vleck

I know we’ve probably overdone the talk on formulas to rate lifting performances, but here’s one more.  I got a copy of Peary Radar’s Lifting News (Sept. 1965) and notice a story on page 20 titled “A New Simplified Formula for Accurate Rating of Lifting Performances”.  This formula was being touted as an easy way to determine the best lifter.  Evidently, before calculators, the “long hand”  or “slide rule” multiplication using the “Hoffman Formula” often resulted on errors and hard feelings when the errors were revealed later.  As a result, the Ravenswood Formula was developed.

I’ll stop right here and say I’m not pushing this to be used by the USAWA nor do I know if it favors heavier lifters (which I’m not sure why anyone would think I would want that….well…maybe I would “like” that). This is just an interesting piece of lifting history from a time when formulas in lifting seemed to be quite the hot topic.

Laverne Myers and Denny Habecker have passed stringent testing to become USAWA officials

The Ravenswood Formula sought to remove the error prone difficulty of multiplication and replace it with the simplicity of adding two numbers together.  You were give two tables which are quite lengthy.  Table “A” had a bodyweight coefficient which went from 110lbs to 370lbs and Table “B” had a “Total” or lift poundage coefficient which went from 105lbs to 2550lbs.  You simply took the lifters weight and found the corresponding coefficient in Table A (a 4 digit number) and added it to the corresponding weight lifted/coefficient in table B (again, a 4 digit number).  The theory being that this formula was much more simple and less prone to a mathematical error.  You have to take the developer’s word that it’s “fair” or should I say “Accurate” as he does in the title.  The developer was Stanley Gorajczyk.  Not sure where “Ravenswood” came from….maybe easier to pronounce that “Gorajczyk”!   Stanley was an Olympic lifter who got 5th in the 1967 Senior Nationals, so he was a pretty decent lifter as well.

Al Myers looks like he's trying to talk Head Judge Denny Habecker into a good call, but really Denny is busy "doing the math" and calculating the winner using the formula!

I just found it another interesting part of lifting history and went with earlier articles on this website that discussed weightlifting formulas.   If you are interested in the tables let me know.  It might be interesting to compare the outcomes of this formula to others!

1970 World Weightlifting Championships

by Al Myers

This is a picture of the Upper Darby Weightlifting team at the 1970 World Weightlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Denny Habecker graciously provided us a few more pictures taken at the 1970 World Weightlifting Championships. These pictures are CLASSIC – and definitely worth sharing in the USAWA Daily News!!  Thank you Denny!!!

Vasily Alexeev watching TV prior to the competition.

Vasily Alexeev stretching and warming up prior to the competition.

Records Go Down Last Weekend

by Al Myers

I’m finally able to relax and reflect upon the great weekend of lifting this past weekend at the Dino Gym.  It’s surprising how much needs to be done AFTER a competition – equipment needs fixed and put away, the gym cleaned and picked up, meet reports and results written for the website, and of course nursing all the aches and pains I self-inflicted upon  myself  once again.

Mike Murdock, of Ledaig Heavy Athletics, sets the most USAWA Records over this past weekend at the Dino Gym.

If anyone notices any mistakes in the meet results please let me know.   It is easy to fix – and I PREFER for everything to be correct.  It is very easy for a mistake to happen – poor handwriting that I can’t read, a lift written down wrong, etc.  I know of instances in the past (before this website) where mistakes got recorded and never changed, and thus these “errors” go down in history as “the fact”.   What are you saying Al??? Yes I said it  -  some RECORDS in the Record List are not legit!!!  With this website, and the ability to post results immediately and correct them immediately if needed,  those type of mistakes are not tolerable anymore.

Now on to more pleasant things.  I finally got the weekend record count done. WOW – as the Daily News Story says, “Records Go Down Last Weekend” – that is an understatement.  On Saturday at the USAWA National Grip Championships a total of 32 new USAWA records were set.  On Sunday at the Dino Gym Record Day, a total of 113 USAWA records were set by the 11 participants (105 individual records and 8 team records).   That’s a LOT!!!  Joe G (the USAWA Record Keeper) will have to burn the midnight oil getting all that in the list!!  The top record day in the  USAWA last year belonged to the JWC Record Breakers last October where 109 USAWA records were set. (I’m not saying we topped them, but I DID have to mention this fact because I’m a forthright news reporter).  This year’s Dino Gym Record Day now becomes the TOP record day in the history of the USAWA in regards to number of USAWA records broken in a record day.  The TOTAL USAWA records for the weekend was an amazing 145 records.  Mike Murdock lead the way for the weekend with a total of 27 records set.  Mike started the weekend off as 70 years old and ended the weekend at 71 years old.  What a great weekend of lifting he had to celebrate his birthday.

Denny Habecker, of the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year Habecker's Gym, deserves a rest after a busy weekend of setting records. Denny has the MOST records in the USAWA with 399.

Denny Habecker now has a commanding lead over Art Montini in the RECORDS RACE.  With the 18 records Denny set this past weekend, he now leads Art 399 to 370.  If only Denny knew he needed only 1 more record to hit the 400 barrier I’m sure he would have done it!!

USAWA Records from  the National Grip Championships -  2011GripChamps

Individual Records from the Dino Gym Record Day – 2011DinoGymRD

Team Records from the Dino Gym Record Day – 2011DinoRDTEAM

Habecker’s Gym – Club of the Year

by Al Myers

Habecker’s Gym is the 2010 Club of the Year

Denny and Judy Habecker have promoted several big meets in the USAWA. This picture of them was taken at the 2009 IAWA World Championships, which they promoted in Lebanon, PA.

It’s official!  The year 2010 is wrapped up, and after all points have been tallied, Habecker’s Gym wins the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year.  Ambridge VFW BBC was the runner-up, for the second year in a row.  Last year the Ambridge Club placed second in the Club Race behind the Dino Gym.  As per the Club of the Year rules, the defending Club Award winner is not eligible the following year and instead is responsible for presenting the award and passing the title to the next year’s winner.

Habecker’s Gym is a club gym operated and owned by our USAWA President Denny Habecker.  2010 was the first year Denny registered his club as a Member Club of the USAWA, and in return, immediately wins the USAWA Club of the Year by upsetting the perennial power Ambridge BBC.  Habecker’s Gym has 5 registered club members – Denny, Judy Habecker, Barry Bryan, Andrew Hess, and Kohl Hess.   Denny and Habecker’s Gym hosted the 2010 USAWA National Championships in Lebanon, PA.  The final standings were:

1.  Habecker’s Gym – 26 points

2.  Ambridge BBC – 19 points

3.  Frank’s Barbell Club – 17 points

4.  Clark’s Gym – 16 points

5.  JWC – 12 points

The 2010 USAWA Club of the Year Award will be awarded at this coming years National Championship, in Kirksville, Missouri.  Congratulations to Denny and Judy and all members of Habecker’s Gym!

Habecker’s Gym is Leading USAWA Club

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker (left), leader of Habecker's Gym and Art Montini (right), leader of Ambridge BBC relax together prior to this past year's National Championship. From the looks of this friendly picture, it's hard to tell that their clubs are in a heated battle for the 2010 USAWA Club of the Year.

As most of you know, one of the new programs I developed last year was the USAWA Club Award Program.  I did this for the main reason of encouraging club participation in the USAWA, with the hope that clubs will become more actively involved.  I really believe the future success of the USAWA lies with clubs.  The many lifts we do are difficult to learn and it takes someone who is experienced in All-Round Weightlifting to be able to mentor and teach others, which happens in a club environment.  It also takes a clubs support to be able to host and promote competitions.  I know I couldn’t put on the meets I do at the Dino Gym if it wasn’t for the support of the gym’s membership.  These guys provide “the muscle” needed to make a meet setup successful.  Often all the work they do is “behind the scenes” – but they know how much I appreciate them!!

I am VERY PROUD to say that this year MORE CLUBS are registered as “member clubs” of the USAWA than ever before in the history of the USAWA.  We have 10 clubs registered!  This makes me extremely happy – because I feel that the promotion of club involvement is working.  So I created a Club Award Program to recognize the clubs that are the most involved.  It is a very straight-forward points program and the points can be calculated directly from information available on the website. The previous year’s winner is not eligible the following year, but is responsible for giving out the award to the next year’s winner at the Annual General Meeting in conjunction with the National Championship.

Club Awards are determined by adding up club points using this 4-Step System:

1. One point awarded to the club for EACH USAWA registered member that lists the club as their affiliated club on their membership application. This designation is also listed beside the members name on the membership roster.

2. Two points awarded to the club for EACH club member that participates in the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup. Points are awarded for each competition, so if one club athlete competes in all three of these big meets it would generate 6 points for the club.

3. Three points awarded to the club for EACH USAWA sanctioned event or competition the club promotes.

4. Four bonus points awarded to the club for promotion of the National Championships, World Championships, and Gold Cup.

Club Award Points to Date (TOP FIVE)

1.  Habecker’s Gym – 26 points

2.  Ambridge BBC – 19 points

3.  Frank’s Barbell Club – 17 points

4.  Clark’s Gym – 16 points

5.  JWC – 12 points

The TIME is not up yet!  Clubs STILL have till the end of the year to add points to their total.

A Week of Broken Records

by Al Myers

Between the time span of less than 10 days, 150 new records were established in the USAWA.  This has to be a record in itself – I never remember this many new records in such a short time span.  Pity poor Joe Garcia as the Official USAWA Record Keeper!  He will be “burning the midnight oil” updating our USAWA Record List.  It all started with Thom Van Vleck’s JWC Record Breaker on October 29th, where a goal was established of setting over 100 records.  They achieved this with ease, and then on November 6th, where two USAWA meets were contested on the same day – the Backbreaker and the Gold Cup – more records fell by the wayside.

I was hoping 2010 would be the YEAR OF RECORDS – where the most USAWA Records were established in one year.  So far – and I have been counting – we are at 561 records for 2010.  As I stated in a previous Daily News story, the most in a year is 702 (which occurred in 2005).  We are not out of time yet – so maybe there’s a chance??  All it would take is for Thom to host another record day and he could do it ALL by himself!!

But the real question is this – who’s leading in the RECORD RACE between Denny “the Prez” Habecker and Art “the Man of Steel” Montini?  Denny pulled a “fast one” on Art at the Gold Cup by breaking one of Art’s records.  Art even commented to Denny at the meet about this “trick” – by not just adding to his total, but taking away from Art’s!  I can’t stand the suspense – so here it is!!

#1. Denny Habecker – 378 USAWA Records

#2. Art Montini – 369 USAWA Records

Denny Habecker used a little brains, along with brawn, to stay ahead of Art Montini in the USAWA Records Race. At the 2010 Gold Cup, Denny broke Art's record of 143 pounds in the Arthur lift with a lift himself of 154 pounds.

On the last count, Denny was at 369 records compared to Art’s 362 records. So he’s stretched his lead.   That was a couple of month’s ago.  It is a good thing Denny is not “just taking it easy on the coach” or Art would have passed him!!  I will keep everyone informed of this ongoing saga between these two old IRON-SLINGERS who are both showing no signs of slowing down!!

RECORDS THAT HAVE FALLEN – Records in last three events

Time to Revisit the Records Race

by Al Myers

Denny Habecker added another USAWA record to the record list with a Clean and Press of 154 pounds at the 2010 USAWA National Championships

It was exactly 1 year ago that I instigated the USAWA Records Race.  Last year at this time it was a “nip and tuck” battle between our “Prez” Denny Habecker and the “Man of Steel” Art Montini.  Denny had the slight lead of 341 records to Art’s 337 records.  While not much has changed one year later, except the two of them have widened their margin from the rest of the pack. As of now (National records included) Denny still has the slightest of leads over Art  365 to 358.  Last December Denny had “stretched” his lead over Art by 11, but the Man of Steel at an age of 82 is relentless as he is still taking the records down at a rapid pace, as demonstrated by his 4 USAWA records he set last weekend at the National Championships.  But Denny is a born leader and not only leads our organization but the record list as well, and has added over 20 USAWA records himself this past year.

The are still 20 members in the “Century Club” – a designation I gave to those lifters that hold over 100 USAWA records. I last ran this listing last December, and no one new has been added to this list.  However, there has been some changes in how the list “sorts out”. I want to point out that this is CURRENT RECORDS held. If you haven’t been competing there is only one direction you will go, and that is down.  This past weekend’s lifting put more numbers in the Record List (which before long will top 10, 000 records).  It is interesting to note that the 20 lifters in the list below hold 40% of the records in the USAWA Records List.  At the 2010 National Championships 52 new USAWA records were set. For a complete listing of the records set at Nationals click on this – 2010NationalMeetRecords.

Current Records Ranking in the USAWA

1.   365  Denny Habecker

2.   358  Art Montini

3.   227  Al Myers

4.   226   John McKean

5.   214   Bill Clark

5.  214   Noi Phumchona

7.   213   Dennis Mitchell

8.    212   Frank Ciavattone

9.    204   Joe Garcia

10. 201   Bob Hirsh

11.  171  Howard Prechtel

12.  142  Dale Friesz

13.  137  Jim Malloy

14.  134  Ed Schock

15.  123  John Monk

16.  118  Mary McConnaughey

17.  115  Scott Schmidt

18.  114  Chris Waterman

19.  110  Joshua Monk

20.  105  John Vernacchio

The Pullover and Push Part 1 – The Rules

USAWA President and the 2010 National Meet Director Denny Habecker likes the Pullover and Push, and he is including it in this year's National Championship.

by Al Myers

The Pullover and Push is one of my favorite All-Round exercises and it is going to be contested at this year’s USAWA National Championships. I thought it would be a good idea to cover some of the basics of this exercise, starting with the rules.

Rules for the Pullover and Push

The lifter will lie on his/her back on the platform with the bar placed on the platform above the lifter’s head.  Padding, such as a towel or mat, may be placed under the lifter’s body and elbows. The bar is gripped with the palms of the hands facing up and with the bar at arms’ length prior to the start of the lift.  Width of hand spacing and feet placement is optional. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed multiple rolls with the bar on the platform to gain momentum to the bar. Hands must remain on the bar throughout the lift. The lifter will then pull the bar over and onto the chest or upper abdomen resulting in the upper arms resting on the platform. The bar must not be rolled once on the chest. The bar or plates must not make contact with the platform once the bar leaves the platform or it will result in disqualification. The lifter is allowed to move or lift the feet and hips during the pullover. Once the bar is on the chest or abdomen, the lifter may move the feet close to the hips, and raise the hips to create a bridging or belly toss to propel the bar to arms’ length. This is done at the lifter’s discretion. The lifter is allowed feet and hip movement during the push. The lifter may press the bar instead of pushing the bar if desired.  Once the push has begun, the bar must not be lowered in any manner. Only one attempt at the push is allowed. The bar must lock out with even extension. Once the arms are straight, the lifter must lower the hips to the platform and straighten the legs to a flat position on the platform. The arms must remain straight during this time.   When the lifter and bar are motionless, an official will give a command to lower the bar. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control. It is acceptable to drop the bar behind the head in the return to the platform as long as the lifter maintains hand contact with the bar.

Date For Nationals

by Al Myers

2010 National Meet Director Denny Habecker

Our USAWA President and this year’s National Meet Director Denny Habecker has announced plans for this year’s Championships.  Denny has planned a two day National Championship, like it used to be several years ago, on June 26th and June 27th, 2010.  It will be held in Lebanon, PA  at the same venue site as this past year’s World Championship. This is an outstanding venue site that has plenty of room for lifting and warming up.   Denny continues to be the driving force in the USAWA, as this is his THIRD National Championships he has promoted since 2000.  He has picked a GREAT selection of lifts for this meet, with a little something for everyone.

Hall of Fame Biography – Denny Habecker class of 1997

Denny Habecker performing a Zercher Lift.

Denny was born and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has lived there all but 3 years of his life. His father was always involved in sports when Denny was growing up, and Denny has continued that tradition. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1960 and got a job at Bayer Corporation in 1964 and worked there until his retirement in August, 2008. He got married in 1964 to Judy Gensemer. Judy is now a retired R.N. and they have one son who is an elementary school principal. His son and daughter-in-law have given them 3 grandsons that they are very proud of.

Denny started lifting in the spring of 1957 to build himself up for high school football. He entered a couple of bodybuilding contests in 1961 and 1962 before deciding weightlifting competitions were more fun. He competed in Olympic lifting competitions, with a few powerlifting competitions thrown in, from 1962 until 1975. Then with family commitments and other sports (volleyball, basketball) taking up his time, he didn’t compete again in weightlifting until 1984. He saw the results of the 1983 National Masters Olympic Lifting Championships and decided to start competing again. Denny entered John Vernacchio’s Eastern Masters and Tri-States Masters competitions every year and became a member of John’s Valley Forge Lifting Team. In 1989 John told him about an all-round weightlifting competition he was having. John talked him into entering it and Denny soon became hooked on all-round weightlifting.

Denny has been in every National All-rounds since 1990, 16 World All-rounds since 1991, and 13 Gold Cups since 1994, competing in Scotland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In Olympic lifting , he has competed in 24 straight Keystone Games , 21 National Masters, 5 Pan-American Masters, 2 American Masters and 2 World Masters Championships since 1984. He also lifted in the 1992 WPA World Masters Powerlifting Championships. Denny still played volleyball, basketball, and softball in an over 40 league most of those years. He had to give up the other sports two years ago because of an arthritic hip.

Denny now trains at the New York Fitness Club in Lebanon and in his basement gym. He has been on the IAWA technical committee since 2000 and President of the USAWA since 2007. He has promoted the 2000 & 2007 USAWA Nationals, 2002, 2005 & 2009 IAWA World’s, 2006 & 2008 Gold Cup, and the 2004 & 2009 National Heavylift Championships. Denny was inducted into the Lebanon Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 , and in 2009 was given the Kelly Cup Award for his Keystone Games accomplishments . He was the overall best lifter of the 1999 USAWA National Championships and 10 times best lifter in his age group. He has placed in the top 10 in 14 USAWA National Championships and 8 IAWA World Championships. His favorite lifts are the Arthur lift and the Pullover and Push. His 87.5 kilogram Clean and Press with Heels Together, which was done in his first All-round Meet in 1989, is still a record.

Denny Habecker performing a Pullover and Push.

Denny Habecker performing a Hack Lift.

Records Race

by Al Myers


After the recent activity of several record days and meets, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the USAWA Records Race between Denny “Prez” Habecker and Art “Man of Steel” Montini.  After Worlds, Denny was holding a slight lead over Art for most current records held in the USAWA (4 records).  It is still very close, but Denny has increased his lead over Art.  These two are WAY AHEAD of the rest of the field, and I have a feeling the battle between the two of them will continue for quite some time.  I have expanded the list from the TOP TEN to the lifters who hold over 100 USAWA current records. I’m going to call it the CENTURY CLUB, which seems appropriate since most lifters in it are approaching that age!  To date, there are 20 lifters who hold over 100  USAWA records. Special recognition goes to Scott Schmidt – the most recent addition to this elite group of lifters.

Century Club


1.   361  Denny Habecker
2.   350  Art Montini
3.   225  John McKean
4.   216  Bill Clark
5.   214  Noi Phumchona
6.   207  Dennis Mitchell
6.   207  Frank Ciavattone
8.   204  Joe Garcia
9.   201  Bob Hirsh
10.  195  Al Myers
11.  171  Howard Prechtel
12.  138  Dale Friesz
13.  137  Jim Malloy
14.  134  Ed Schock
15.  123  John Monk
16.  118  Mary McConnaughey
17.  114  Chris Waterman
18.  110  Joshua Monk
19.  106  John Vernacchio
20.  106  Scott Schmidt

Congratulations to JIM MALLOY – who just recently passed the USAWA Rules Test. Jim has now joined the ranks of a LEVEL 2 Official – which includes passing the Rules Test and having the experience of officiating in over 25 USAWA/IAWA competitions.  I want to point out that all certified officials (both level 1 and level 2) have the same authority as officials. “Level 2″ just distinguishes those who have completed both avenues in becoming an USAWA official.  I know there probably are individuals who have met the “experience requirement” to be on the list (as a Level 1 Official) and are not listed there. I have no way of knowing who these are if I am not told, especially if these individual’s involvement happened many years ago, before I got involved in the USAWA. Most old result sheets didn’t list who the Officials were even.  If this is YOU , and you have officiated in over 25 USAWA All-Round Competitions in the past,  and want to get involved again in the USAWA as an Official – PLEASE let me know and I’ll gladly put you on the list. The USAWA would LOVE to get you back into the fold!!  The “experience” route was developed in the Rule Book as a “Grandfather Clause” so those very qualified and experienced officials would not have to “start over” in getting certified as an USAWA Official. After all, these individuals have already “earned” their official status the hard way – by sitting in the judges chair for many, many hours.  The purpose of the Rules Test is about certifying NEW officials.