It is not the critic who counts

by Eric Todd

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”-Teddy Roosevelt

This quote by President Roosevelt was introduced to me by Coach Fallein, my high school wrestling coach. It always stuck with me, I guess because I was competitive in nature. One could argue that through this quote, a parallel can be drawn between weightlifting and life.
There has been more than one occasion where I have witnessed someone who weightlifting (or another competitive avenue) came easy to. They try it a few times, whip the competition, and then disappear into the night. My first thought always was that if I was that natural at something, I would do it as much as possible, and be the best in the world. But alas, it was not to be and I had to scratch and claw for every PR and victory I have achieved. So why did these guys disappear? While pondering this question with colleagues, we determined that the success had come too easy for these guys. They had not felt the sting of failure. They did not have to go back to the gym, back to the drawing board, refocus and re-attack. Thus when they re-entered the arena and were victorious, they knew not of the contrast between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

It is those hills and valleys that make our companionship with the weights so rewarding. Clearly, winning is the goal. But the ride to get there is what it is all about. Am I satisfied with a win if I did not lift as I am capable? There have been a time or two (no more) that I was almost satisfied with second, as I performed above and beyond anything I could have hoped for, the other guys was just better (which stings a bit anyhow). Throughout it all, though, you have got to allow yourself to enjoy the ride.

There was a time in 2003, when I was just off winning my weight class at strongman nationals. I was top 3 overall, 1 point out of second, and the first place guy received his pro card. I knew that I was going to go pro at my next contest. I poured all my eggs into 2003 Lumberjack days in Stillwater, MN. I trained like a maniac for this contest; I could not lose. I knew Dave Ostlund (of World’s strongest Man fame) would be there, and he was tough, just coming off a top 3 placement in his weight class at nationals, but I was 2 and 0 against him, and knew I could make it 3 in a row. Well, the meet came and went. I ended up 3rd. I lifted fairly well, but it just was not enough. I was devastated. I had to regroup and do some soul searching. I had to re-prioritize things, and decide if I was even going to get back to the drawing board. This loss stung.

I am glad I chose to remain stalwart in my pursuit of strength. I tried a few more times for my heavyweight pro card, and was close, achieving a couple second place finishes. Ultimately, I chose to drop to the new 105 kilo division, and within half a year, I had earned my pro card at the 2005 Monsters of the Midwest. It happened in the most dramatic of fashions. Me and Dino Nick were tied going into the final event: the Atlas Stones. I had gone first and put up a quick time. However, when Nick started, he was on pace to beat me. He was on pace until the final stone, and he just was not quite able to load it. Believe me, at that moment, I was at the top of the world. That peak was so high, because of the depth of the valleys.

The highs and lows, that is the spice of our lives. I love living in the country in Missouri. I love seeing the seasons change. The May days that are sunny and in the seventies are so much sweeter because of the blizzards in January. The peaks are made remarkable because of the valleys we are made to toil through.

A couple years ago, right before thanksgiving, Mom called and said she would not be able to watch Phoebe the next day as she was not feeling well. Well we scrambled to make alternate plans, but something in the back of my mind kept me a little worried about Ma. Any of you who know her know that she is never sick, or at least wont hardly admit to being, and NOTHING will stand in the way of her time with her grandbabies. So I felt that something as a bit off. Well, I called the next day, and she was clearly not well. I talked her into going into the ER, and she ended up having an emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her colon. Though surgery went as well as could be expected, it was an invasive surgery, and she had to spend some time in ICU recovering.

I spent a lot of time at the hospital over that holiday break, spending time with ma, and spending time with dad. He clearly was worried. He had been a bit ill himself, with what appeared to be something respiratory. Dad, Jennifer, and Phoebe ate Thanksgiving dinner at Cameron Regional Medical Center that year. Me and Dad stayed most of the day, and into the night. We then made our way home, and I to bed, trying to get a little sleep, as during this time I had been lacking. At around midnight; however, I was awakened by the telephone. It was Dad. He asked me to take him to the ER. We went in, and as it turns out, his affliction was not respiratory at all. He had atrial fibrillation which was causing his heart to go crazy, and as it turns out it was a miracle he did not have a heart attack. So, that night, I got to move dad into the ICU next to Mom. I spent the rest of the night going back and forth to the hospital getting medications, clothes, etc. I finally was able to sleep around 8:00 in the morning. Those days were some dark ones. It was tough keeping everything together and trudging on through. I was in a valley.
Mom and Dad both recovered miraculously. They are both are doing wonderful. I enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with them. I have a beautiful wife and two amazing kids. I have a job I love, and get to lift for fun. I am not lifting the best I ever have, but am still confident my best years are ahead of me. My life is a grand one. Those valleys I have been to let me know just how glorious these peaks can be.

I can tell you this, learning to deal with the peaks and valleys in sport goes a great deal toward teaching us how to deal with adversity in our lives. Getting my tail kicked on the wrestling mat (I can tell you, it is personal-you physically get your tail beat by another individual, saying he is the better man that day) on the football field, the track, in the weightlifting arena, and having to figure out how to deal with it and come back from it has helped teach me how to face the trials and tribulations in life. And it has shown me just how precious each victory, no matter how small, can be.

Top Lifts of 2013

by Al Myers

Art proudly displaying his homemade Teeth Bit!

Today welcomes in a New Year, and  with it comes the excitement of another very promising year in the USAWA.   2013 had to be one of the best EVER in the history of the USAWA.  There were many great competitions and great individual performances.  Of the 22 official competitions that occurred in 2013 in the USAWA, I was a participant or attended 18 of them!

As I’m sitting here sipping a cup of coffee in the early morning hours of 2014 (my internal clock would not allow me to sleep in!), I’m reflecting on some of the fantastic lifts I was able to witness “first hand” in the USAWA in 2013.  It didn’t take me long to come up with a list of over 20, but I’m gonna narrow the list today to the TOP TEN lifts that impressed me the most. I want to reiterate  that this is MY LIST of the lifts that I was able to watch, and only reflects my viewpoints.  Many, many others were extremely impressive that did not make the list. A few individual lifters had multiple lifts that impressed me, but I’m only including THE ONE that impressed me the most by an individual lifter.  It took me three times as long to come up with my list as it did to write this blog!  Here it goes – counting down from number ten:

10. Lance Foster and his 575# Dinnie Lift at the OTSM Championships

This had to be one of the most tenacious lifts of the year.  Lance struggled at the Battle of the Barn with the Dinnie Lift, but came back a month or so later to up his performance by 75 pounds! If the USAWA offered a TRUE GRIT AWARD Lance would win it.

9.  Jera Kressly and Logan Kressly 600# heels together deadlift at the Team Championships.

Jera and Logan did this mixed pair (man/woman) lift quite easily at the Team Champs.  I should mention that Logan was only 15 at the time!  That’s a big deadlift for any mixed pair with a normal stance – let alone having the heels together!

8.  James Fuller and his 60 KG Bent Press at the Gold Cup.

James has been on a mission to mastering the Bent Press this year.  The Bent Press is one of the MOST old and obscure lifts of all round lifting.  Very few even know how to go about doing one.  I first saw James bent pressing Frank’s axle at the Heavies, with was extremely cumbersome to handle.  I was going to include that effort instead of this one for James, but his Gold Cup lift really deserves it more as it was done in a big competition.  It won’t be long before James puts up the highest Bent Press record of All Time in the USAWA.

7.  Joe Ciavattone Sr. and his 805# Neck Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

This HAD to make my list.  Joe is one of the best neck lifters in USAWA history, and held the overall record for many years.  To come back and hit a personal record now several years later shows true ability.  I was glad to be able to witness his lift (as I had not seen his previous record lift).

6.  Troy Goetsch and his 260# one handed Vertical Bar Lift at the Grip Championships.

I’ve seen many great VB lifts in the past, but Troy’s is one of the best.  Troy won the overall lifter at the Grip Champs, and his VB was the lift that I will remember from him on that day.

5.  Frank Ciavattone and his 202.5 KG Ciavattone Grip Deadlift at Nationals.

Frank still has some great lifting in him, as shown with this big lift at our National Championships which is named after him.  I never get tired of watching Frank do Ciavattone Grip Deadlifts – and this is one I’ll never forget.

4.  Dan Wagman and his 120# Pullup at the Dino Gym Record Day.

YES – that’s 120 pounds strapped to the waist and then performing a pullup with the chin OVER the bar with no kipping!!! And hold for a down command!  Not too many around could even come close to this performance of Dan’s.  I’ve seen a lot of great lifting out of Dan and often what he does does not surprise me – but this pullup did!

3.  Joe Ciavattone Jr. and the 1400# Hand and Thigh Lift at the Heavy Lift Championships.

Junior doesn’t realize yet that he will be a future superstar of the USAWA, but I see it.  His untapped strength is unreal, and this big H&T proves it.  He just finished with a 1200 at the meet,  I gave him a couple of tips between lifts, and then he adds 200 pounds and gets it easily!  Impressive to say the least…

2.  Eric Todd and this 1000# Neck Lift at the Battle of the Barn II.

ET has put up 1000 pound Neck Lifts before several times – but this one was done with rules beyond those of the USAWA.   He cleared the floor substantially, and then HELD the lift for over 2 full seconds recorded on a stop watch.  I’m still shaking my head after seeing that effort!

1.  Art Montini and his 107# Teeth Lift at the Presidential Cup.

All I can say is that I still don’t know how he did this!  Art is 85 years old and has FALSE TEETH.  This lift won him the Presidential Cup of the USAWA for the year, and I would say deserving of the lift that impressed me the most!  Art has been one of the most active lifters in the USAWA this year – attending most of the championship events, attending the “Big Three” (Nationals, Worlds, and the Gold Cup), and still involved with promoting his annual Birthday Bash.  He has a deeper resume than anyone in the history of the USAWA, and I’m glad to name Art’s lift as the most impressive lift of 2013.  Congrats Art!!

Lifter of the Month: Eric Todd

by Al Myers

Eric Todd lifting 710 pounds in the Dinnie Lift at the 2013 OTSM Championships, enroute to winning Overall Best Lifter.

The lifter of the month for December goes to Eric Todd, overall champion at this month’s Old Time Strongman Championships.  Eric has had a great year in the USAWA, and is one of the promising all rounders for future years. Eric has been involved as a meet promoter as well, and is founder of the registered USAWA club, KC STRONGMAN.

Congrats to Eric for being LIFTER OF THE MONTH for December!!!!

OTSM Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

2013 USAWA OLD TIME STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Group picture from the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The 3rd annual Old Time Strong Man (OTSM) Championship capped off a great year for OTSM in the USAWA. This year saw FOUR OTSM meets with 38 total competitors. I will try and do around up of the four meets at a later time, but for now here’s the lowdown for the OTSM Championships at the JWC Training Hall.

Let’s do something different and lead off with those that make the meet happen. John O’Brien and Laverne Myers were my loaders and this is no easy task at an OTSM meet, especially when it comes to the Dinnie lift where you have to load one implement at 75% of the other…John O’Brien manned the calculator and I think he needed his Ph.D to figure that out! Not a single mistake! Al Myers was on hand as the scorekeeper and supplied the lifters with information on the current records for the lifts. I acted as the head judge and I think I did a good job as almost every lift was passed and I got no dirty looks!

We had 7 lifters brave the bad weather to come to meet. I had a few cancellations due to the weather but I totally understand. The Dino Gym was well represented with Scott Tully and Mark Mitchell. Al Springs came up for the meet. Mike McIntyre was there to represent the JWC for me while Lance Foster and Eric Todd represented KC Strongman while Denny Habecker was there representing his own “Habecker’s Gym”.

We started with the Anderson Squat and it became apparent that Eric Todd was going to be the man to beat as he topped all the lifters by a wide margin going over 800lbs. It also became clear there was going to be a fight for 2nd and 3rd.

Eric Todd used a 355 pound Anderson Press help him to Overall Best Lifter at the 2013 OTSM Championships.

The second lift was the Anderson Press. Again, Eric Todd was the top lifter. But Mike McIntyre put up a great effort and after the results were entered Mike was in 2nd overall and Denny was 3rd. Mark Mitchell was a very close 4th. Eric was going to have to bomb the last event to lose but it was turning into a very exciting finish with the Dinnie lift coming up.

In the Dinnie Lift Al Springs opened at 185 and did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. He jumped 200lbs for his 2nd attempt…and MADE IT! He also went on to make 405 for his third. Lance Foster his several PR’s and the Dinnie lift was a big one as he jumped over 50lbs from his last meet. Mark Mitchell lost his grip on his last attempt and then struggled through several attempts and with the clock ticking down finally found the groove. It’s always impressive to me when a lifter struggles mightily and then comes through in the end. Denny went three for three which ended up being important to him as he barely ended up edging Mike McIntyre in points….it was a fraction of a point in the end. Mike did all he could to hang onto 2nd including pulling a 710lb lift…impressive because he had NEVER done the lift before. Eric pulled the 710 for his second and wanted to try a PR….the only problem was we couldn’t fit enough weight on the bar! Eric had easily won the meed so it was inconsequential to the meet but I still felt bad that Eric couldn’t take a crack at his own USAWA record.

All the lifters got the “famous” JWC anvil trophies and also a long sleeve JWC Club shirt. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it seemed to be one of the most friendly meets I’ve been to as the lifters seemed to be joking and laughing a lot and there was a lot of encouragement when it was time to lift. It is times like those that I am proud to belong to the USAWA! I am already thinking about next year and I hope we can continue to grow. If you have any ideas for lifts, let me or Al Myers know. See you next year!

MEET RESULTS

2013 USAWA OTSM Championships
December 7th, 2013
JWC Training Hall, Kirksville, Missouri

Meet Director:  Thom Van Vleck

Announcer and Scorekeeper:  Al Myers

Official (1-official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Loaders: LaVerne Myers and John O’Brien

Lifts: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dinnie Lift

MENS DIVISION

LIFTER AGE BWT SQ PR DINN TOT PTS
Eric Todd 38 261 810 355 710 1875 1455.9
Denny Habecker 71 194 365 180 440 985 1182.0
Mike McIntyre 29 308 630 305 710 1645 1179.6
Mark Mitchell 53 307 550 250 600 1400 1146.1
Scott Tully 37 328 500 280 630 1410 981.8
Lance Foster 48 328 450 160 550 1160 880.4
Al Springs 71 196 190 100 405 695 828.7

EXTRA LIFTS FOR RECORDS:

Denny Habecker: Anderson Squat 410 lbs.
Mike McIntyre: Anderson Press 315 lbs.
Lance Foster: Anderson Press 170 lbs.
Lance Foster: Dinnie Lift 575 lbs.

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  All lifts recorded in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS is adjusted points for age and bodyweight correction.

Top 4 Questions to Ask a Strength Athlete

by Eric Todd

I have been competing in strength sports for a number of years now.  Anyone who knows me knows that is what I do.  Though the people I associate with outside the strongman and weightlifting community are for the most part a well-meaning group of people, I sometimes have gotten some interesting questions from them.  Here are some of my favorites:

1)      Why do you do that?  I usually get this when a person first finds out the arena in which I compete in, or find that I lifted x amount in a certain lift.  Definitely when I set the necklift record.   The arrogant response is “If you have to ask, you would not understand anyhow.”  The fact is, many people cannot understand this, because they cannot understand the quality of being competitive, or the drive to be the best at something.  They are satisfied with living in mediocrity.  That is fine for them, just not for me.

2)      Aren’t you afraid of hurting your back or Aren’t you afraid of getting a hernia? (these both kind of fall under the same category)  No.  I am not.  I choose not to live in fear.  As it turns out I have done both and continue to lift pretty heavy, so I guess there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.

3)      Are all the guys that compete on steroids?  No.  I am not (I assume that is why you are asking).   I know there are others who are clean.  However, in strongman I kept getting surprised by how many dirty lifters there were. Even some that I assumed were clean that were not.  I guess they better find some better stuff.   That is one reason that the USAWA is a HUGE breath of fresh air.  It is nice to lift against other clean lifters.

4)      Why haven’t I seen you on TV?  This is one of the more absurd questions, in my book.  While I have competed with the best, and have beaten some of the best at one time or another, at 5’11”, with small joints and no drugs, there is really only so far my work ethic and genetics was going to take me in the strongman arena.  I went all out, but this is the reality.  Secondly, I always thought of it like this:  I do strongman events on Saturdays.  Other guys go golfing on Saturdays.  They even might be pretty serious about their golf game.    Would it make a whole lot of sense for me to ask them why I have not seen them on TV competing in the Masters or something?  Competing  in the Masters or World’s Strongest Man is for the truly elite, the best of the best.  He hasn’t made it to that point, and neither have I.  It is that simple, and not something it seems I would have to explain.  It is not like I am one of  only 13 guys in the world who do strongman and the other 12 are the ones who go to Worlds.

Anyhow, those are my top 4 questions that the layman feels necessary to ask someone who competes in strength sports.  Some are kind of funny, and some just sad.  Aside from the steroids question, I assume they don’t mean much by them.  It is just humorous sometimes to realize how we are perceived by those on the outside.

Battle in the Barn II

by Eric Todd

Group picture of participants at the Battle in the Barn II. (left to right): Conan Wass, Mike Pringle, Eric Todd, Lance Foster, Thom Van Vleck, Dean Ross, and Scott Tully

Battle in the Barn 2013 is done and in the books.  We had lots of fun, and some great lifting occurred.  I would like to thank Al for coming out and running the score table, and Thom for being our Judge.  I would also like to give a huge thanks to Conan Wass for loading for us.   Five lifters competed in 4 lifts.  Dean Ross came all the way from Oklahoma for the event.

Eric Todd (left) being presented the overall lifter awards from Al Myers (right).

Some of the highlights from the meet for me were:

Dean Ross absolutely grinding out his last deadlift.  HE just got edged out on a final lift from getting 3rd by formula.

Lance Foster’s Dumbbell to the shoulder.  He hit a big number, but missed out on his next one which would have been a BIG PR.  If he had not bombed on the deadlift, he would have been right in the mix.

Thom Van Vleck, the USAWA chair of the OTSM, served as the official.

Professor Scott Tully making a clutch Dinnie lift to put himself into 3rd by formula.

What I was most impressed with was a lean, mean Mike Pringle.  I hardly recognized him when he rolled in. This was Mikes the second ever all-round meet that he has competed in, and he came in STRONG!  I was very impressed with his dumbbell to the shoulder technique.  It seemed very efficient, though I could not duplicate it.  His People’s deadlift was also incredibly strong.

We scored this meet two ways.  One was by the standard formula, and the other was by straight weight lifted.

By formula, the meet ended like this:

5th-Lance Foster
4th-Dean Ross
3rd-Scott Tully
2nd-Mike Pringle
1st-Eric Todd

By straight weight the results are as follows:

5th-Lance Foster
4th-Dean Ross
3rd-Mike Pringle
2nd-Scott Tully
1st-Eric Todd

 
 
Lance Foster performing a 495 pound Dinnie Lift.

MEET RESULTS:

2013 Battle in the Barn II
Saturday, October 19th, 2013
ET’s House of Iron and Stone
Turney, Missouri

Meet Director:  Eric Todd

Meet Announcer & Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Official (1 official system used): Thom Van Vleck

Loader:  Conan Wass

Lifts:  Cyr Press, Dumbbell to Shoulder, Peoples Deadlift, Dinnie Lift

LIFTER AGE BWT Cyr DB DL Din TOT PTS
Eric Todd 38 262 170 265 605 770 1810 1402
Mike Pringle 37 175 110 225 520 535 1390 1342
Scott Tully 37 342 130 150 565 605 1450 990
Dean Ross 70 273 60 125 375 435 995 989
Lance Foster 47 330 80 175 0 495 750 562

NOTES:  All lifts recorded in pounds.  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight and age correction.

RECORD LIFT FOLLOWING MEET:

Eric Todd – Neck Lift 1000 lbs.

This lift was officiated by three officials (Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, and Lance Foster).   The plates were weighed individually as well as the bar to verify the accuracy of the final weight, and the lift was held for 2.06 seconds.

Grandpa’s Farm: A Legacy of Strength

by Eric Todd

This is a picture of the barn Grandpa built in 1950, that I maintain and use today.

I have shared this story in a number of forms on a number of different occasions.  But I feel it is worth repeating here once again.  For anyone interested in seeing a brief video, the condensed version, please look here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK3NYJs4nec

My Grandpa, Gus Lohman, was a farmer.  He was a farmer all of his life.  He came from generations of farmers.  His Great Grandfather John Lohman came over from Germany.  He built himself a dugout house, and according to a book on the history of Clinton County, Missouri, he became one of the prominent farmers in the area.  Grandpa attended the old Deer Creek one room schoolhouse, where he graduated the eighth grade.  That is the extent of his formal education.  From there he became a farm hand, where he saved up enough money to purchase his own farm.  Through his incredible work ethic and farm savvy, he saved up enough money to purchase the adjacent farm, giving him a farm of almost 500 acres, which he farmed successfully for the rest of his life.  This is the farm I was raised on.

I grew up knowing Grandpa as a gruff, but kind man with a great sense of humor.  But most of all, I remember him for his toughness.  I worked on the farm with him a great deal as a kid.  I started young and continued through my teenage years.  Grandpa was always a fan of feats of strength.  It was a huge compliment when Grandpa referred to someone as “stout”.   However, I have never encountered anybody who was able to work the way Grandpa could.  He never seemed to tire.  And I was working with him when he was in his seventies and eighties. 

I would later hear stories from the old men in the country store or around the neighborhood about Grandpa.  One tells about when someone had been crude in front of a lady, Grandpa punched him so hard it sent him though a barn wall.  Another was a story about a stallion that no one could break.  This is when Grandpa was quite young. When Grandpa claimed that he would be riding that horse to town that night, no one thought it was possible.  Until Aunt Josie and Uncle Sally were in their Model T on the way to the movies that night.  A lone rider came galloping past them.  It was Grandpa on that very stallion.  These are a couple of many stories, and I was always intrigued by stories of Grandpa’s Strength.

However, the most impressive feat of strength was one I learned about after Grandpa passed.  Deep into his eighties, Grandpa developed cancer and fought it off valiantly, but ultimately lost.  I remember when I was very young, Grandpa “retiring”.  He sold off his cattle and all his machinery.  This lasted a couple months, and then he bought it all back and continued farming.  At the time, as a small boy, I didn’t think much of it.  However; after he passed, I was told that at that time, over 20 years prior, Grandpa had been diagnosed with cancer, and was given six months to live.  He fought and lived well past that, and worked every day of it.

After Grandpa died, I decided there was no place I would rather live and raise a family then on Grandpa’s farm.  I moved back, and took to taking care of it as well as weight training and strongman training there.  The Grandpa’s spirit of toughness and hard work served, and still serves today, as a big motivator in my training. 

My mother and father also live on Grandpa’s farm.  They have most of my life.  We always had a pretty simple, hard working life out there.  When I was quite young (I believe 3 years old) I took note of Dad going out to run the country roads for exercise.  I got the notion that I wanted to do what Dad was doing, so I would throw my mud boots on and light out after him.  Before long I was running a mile or two at a time.  When I was about nine, and had discovered that wrestling was something I could do competitively, dad made me a dumbbell to work out with.  I used it religiously, along with doing pushups and sit-ups.  When dad saw how determined I was, we made a makeshift weight room out in the old milk barn, and Dad and I would train together.  After the workout, we would talk about what would make a champion, and even more important, what it took to make a man.

 I never appreciated my father to the extent that I should have growing up.  See, my father was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 13.  HE didn’t have control of it through medication until he was around 30.  At that time, he was finally able to obtain a drivers license.  Because of the late start, he was never confident in his driving, but he braved treacherous roads in the winter without fail.  He was often unsteady in walking due to his medication, but he always made it to work, even after a number of falls to ensure he made it to work to make a living to take care of his family. 

For a few years as I was on the mend from a severe back injury, me and Dad trained together again.  We competed together in powerlifting meets.  It was a valuable experience to be able to train with dad again, and ultimately compete with him, side by side. 

My mother was always the cement that held our family together.  She was the rock that we would lean against for our own strength in hard times.  She always gave to her family first, and often went without herself. A few years ago we had just had our little girl.  My wife had to go back to work, but we were confident, as Mom would be taking are of Phoebe during the days.  This went well for a few months, but one Sunday night, Mom called.  She wasn’t feeling well, and would not be able to take care of Phoebe the next day.  This worried me.  I knew mom would have to be on her deathbed in order to not take care of Phoebe.  The next day, I called to check on her.  She was feeling worse, so I convinced her to get to the ER. She was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to have emergency surgery.  After the surgery was over, I felt like I would need to be strong for her.  What did I know?  Even though she had been through that incredible trauma, had a ventilator in, and was only able to communicate through writing with her swollen hand,   she continued to look after us, checking to be sure Dad had taken his medication and scolding us for not getting anything to eat. 

Yeah, I come from good stock.  Where will this legacy of Grandpa’s farm go?  Where Everett is only 5 months old, Phoebe has been trying to lift things since she could walk.  Though I scold her, when she is bench pressing the coffee table, or   when she is supposed to be going to bed she grabs this 2# antique dumbbell I have setting by my chair and starts lifting it overhead saying “I’m exercising”, I know it is in her blood.  My wife told me one day when she and Phoebe were out on the back deck where I have two throw away ez curl bars setting, and Phoebe went up and futilely tried to lift the first one.  She said to herself, “That’s Daddy’s.”  Then she went to the lighter one and lifted it about 4-5” off the ground.  “That’s mine,” she beamed.  I could only smile.

Yeah, I come from good stock.  So what is my responsibility to the legacy of strength on grandpa’s farm?  I will not push my children into weight lifting or sport if that is not something they want for themselves.  But it is up to me to teach them the value of hard work, determination, tenacity, and more than anything, strength of character.  To do anything less would do a disservice to those who came before them, and the legacy of Grandpa’s farm.

Gettin’ Flipped Off!

by Thom Van Vleck

Tedd Van Vleck, part of the Jackson Weightlifting Club, works on flipping an 800lb tire

If you are a true All-Rounder you probably are always looking for new ways to train.  I would guess everyone that follows training at all has at least seen the “Tire Flip”.   It has really gained in popularity the past couple decades and is really is a “new lift” in the grand scheme of progressive resistance training.  I can say from my personal experience it is a great “head to toe” exercise and you engage every muscle at some point.  It also build cardio as I know a few flips with an 800lb tire will leave me gasping for air.

Another USAWA member, Eric Todd, has a great video on this that should be watched if you are interested in the tire flip.

YouTube Video: Eric Todd Tire Flip

Eric gives a good description.  Here is what I think about on the tire flip.

Stand about a foot or so away from the edge a little wider than my deadlift, maybe more of a squat stance.  Get low into a squat position and get my fingers under the bottom edge and my shoulders and biceps pressed into the tire so close my chin is on top or over the top of the tire.  I also set up with an angle to drive into the tire…NOT come straight up.  As I come up I’m thinking speed.  Not deadlift, but clean.  Trying to get that tire into the “2nd pull” range of the clean or the “hang clean” range and then exploding up.  When the tire is past that pulling range I take a small step with my left foot and drive my right knee into the tire trying to drive it with my hip and keep the momentum going.  That small step allows me to keep up with the tire as it moves forward.  Then I try to get my hands into a “bench press” position and get my shoulders under the tire to finish it.  If you are in a contest and doing the tire for distance, I liked to try and shove the tire as hard as I could…sometimes you can get a little extra distance on it.  At the least in practice it’s a strong finish to a good exercise.

Here are a few cautions.  First, keep in mind the tire can…and will…fall back on you and many have been seriously injured in this way.  I just try and stay aware but a spotter with a milk crate to slide under the tire as it goes up is a good idea.  We had a guy in a strongman contest I ran a few years ago have it fall back and after that I used the metal milk crate.   Another major issue is guys will try and “curl” the tire.  Trying to move weights that heavy with the biceps only is asking for a blown bicep.  Use your legs, hips, and back.  In Olympic lifting they teach the arms are just hooks and flexing the elbows can actually dampen the pull of the hips.  Finally, use a tire that’s light enough to practice good technique on and not the heaviest one you can barely turn….that’s like maxing on the deadlift every workout.  Eventually it catches up to you!

As I said, I’m seeing tires everywhere.  I think they are great, but like anything, you should know what you are doing!

Moving Past the Hype of Science

by Eric Todd

This is a picture of Eric "ET" Todd training strongman events at the Dino Gym a few years back. Eric is one of "very few" men that have loaded the Dino Gym's 405# stone to a 48" platform. (photo courtesy of webmaster).

It has been quite obvious that a number of you on here are very interested in the science behind weight training.  I tried to go down that road once.  I had been competing a few years, won some meets, won a strongman nationals and placed well in others, and had won my pro card in strongman.    I heard other guys who would talk about the science behind what we were doing.  I began to think that if I was more knowledgeable in this arena,  it may lend itself to further success.   So I delved in.  I ordered some books on programming, read some online articles about the science between diet and nutrition, and so on and so forth.  It was about 10 minutes into this venture that I realized I may better enjoy myself (and understand what I am doing) if I were to go watch the grass grow or possibly find a recently painted wall somewhere that I could enjoy watching dry.  I guess it is for some, but not for everybody.  As luck would have it, I have surrounded myself with some very knowledgeable people in that area that I can go to if I have a question.  I just bring a translator along to decipher what they are saying.

No, what fascinates me the most about strength training/competition is the psychology involved.  I love the concept of man against immoveable object.  I love facing the worthy adversary and conquering it with a successful lift, or coming back to defeat the iron a different day.  Falling down, but coming back again, and again, and again.  Even if George Kennedy is standing over you telling you “Stay down.  You’re beat.”

My way at looking at weightlifting, strongman (or any physical conquest for that matter) is a rather primordial one.  When attacking a top end or PR type weight, I am often able to go inside my head, and establish a fight or flight frame of mind, if only for a moment or two.  Shoot, there have been times when I came back out of my head to attack the iron, I found I had tears in my eyes and a rage in my heart.  That heap of scrap didn’t stand a chance!   When I set myself up for a heavy lift I sell my soul to the devil.  Did the same thing when stepping on a wrestling mat, a football field, or preparing to run a 400m dash.  I throw everything I have into it, and when it is said and done, I will have won or I would have lost, but there would be no doubt either way.  No excuses.  Now for the disclaimer.  This methodology has often left me with  injury, and has left me a crippled, hobbled old man at 38.  But I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I will have to say, that seeing a big lift gets me going.  But what really jacks me up, almost to the point of swinging at the fences my adrenaline is running so, has nothing to do with the amount of weight moved.  It is when you see somebody who sells themselves out on a lift.  One of those deadlifts that takes 15 second to complete.  Or the yoke walk that was so slow and arduous that the individual never had a chance of a decent placing, but they never set it down, never gave up on it, all the way to the end.  That kind of effort is a real inspiration.  Where it is cool to see someone make a lift look easy, what really shows the do or die attitude I am talking about is when the lift is not easy, as a matter of fact, there are a few times when there is grave doubt about the lifter completing it.  But they dig in, they grind it out.  They exhaust themselves physically.  And most importantly, they exhaust themselves mentally. 

Now, this article was not written in an effort to make me seem like a   bad ass.  It is just an effort to explain the mentality that has been engrained in me through where I came from.  Everything you got, you earned, and there was no place for excuses.  If you were not tough, you were going to get tough.   Nor is it in an effort to slam those who enjoy the science behind it.  I know it has its place, and I seek help from those smarter than me all the time.  My point is that science does not have an answer for everything.  And sometimes when George Kennedy is standing above you, you have to get up one more time, and reply “You’re gonna have to kill me.”

A Day in the Life of Eric Todd

by Ben Edwards

Give this video 5 minutes of your day if you have ever wondered what a high level strongman’s normal day looks like. I’ve had the pleasure of competing in a few of the same USAWA contests as Eric. He is a very nice guy who has encouraging words and motivational wisdom for everyone around him. He’s also a Special Ed teacher, which isn’t what most people would guess a strongman would be. Not all strongmen are bouncers in other words. I hear that a lot from people who just don’t know how sterotypical and outdated that is on many levels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBCzgcuv7Kw&sns=fb

(WEBMASTERS COMMENTS:  This was written by Ben on Facebook, and I just think it needs to be shared here in the USAWA Daily News for those who missed it.  It gives a little insight into the life of ET, who has been a big part of the USAWA this past year.)

Top Performances of 2012 – PART 2

by Al Myers

Now it’s time to finish the  count down of the TOP PERFORMANCES of 2012! 

5.  Bryan Benzel and his 355 pound Apollons Lift.

Bryan Benzel performing the Apollons Lift at the 2012 Battle in the Barn.

Bryan “THE BIG YOUNG BULL” Benzel made his “name known” at ET’s Battle in the Barn OTSM meet last spring.  Included in the list of events was the Apollons Lift, which represents the performance done by the old time strongman Louis Uni, aka Apollon.  Apollon lifted his famous Apollon’s Wheels, which weighed 366#, overhead in his show performances.   The Bull  about  beat the mark set by the mighty Apollon!

4.  Adam Glass lifting 822 pounds in the Dinnie Lift at the Minneapolis Meet.

Adam Glass performing the Dinnie Lift at the 2012 Minneapolis Meet.

Adam Glass is, without a doubt, a WORLD CLASS grip man.  I am so glad that I was able to see this performance of his first-hand, because if not, I don’t know if I would have truly believed that he could lift so much in the Dinnie Lift.   Hopefully someday Adam will have an opportunity to attempt the actual stones – because if we are taking bets I’m going to place my bet on him that he’ll lift them!

3.  Dan Wagman’s 359 pound Steinborn Lift at Worlds.

Dan Wagman performing the Steinborn Lift in route to winning the Overall Best Lifter at the 2012 IAWA World Championships in Salina, Kansas.

I’ve known Dan “PURE POWER” Wagman for several years, and know what an outstanding lifter he is.  I had the feeling that the OVERALL CHAMPION of the 2012 Worlds was going to come down to a battle between him and my training buddy Chad.  I felt Chad’s “ace in the hole” was going to be the Steinborn Lift, and a lift that he might be able to distance himself from Dan.  However, this was not to be (even though Chad put up his All Time best Steinborn of 202.5kg) when Dan put up a huge Steinborn Lift of 359 pounds.  I was not expecting this out of Dan – and in turn quite surprised me – and that is why it made my ranking of number 3 of impressive lifts of 2012.

2.  Wilbur Miller’s 457# 12 inch base Deadlift.

Wilbur Miller (left) and Denny Habecker (right) at the Dino Gym.

It’s been years since Wilbur Miller was nicknamed the Cimarron Kid, but at an age of 79 he still lifts like a kid!  This amazing deadlift of his has to be regarded as one of the best performances of ALL-TIME in the USAWA as well.  

1.  Eric “ET” Todd and the monsterous WORLD RECORD Neck Lift of 1030 pounds!

Eric Todd performing his World Record Neck Lift at the 2012 IAWA World Championships.

This was the most impressive lift in the USAWA for 2012. I’m sure most everyone would agree with me on this.   Following the World Championships, Eric and Chad Ullom engaged each other in an “one on one” Neck Lift Challenge to determine who the best neck lifter was.  Both guys eclipsed the 1000 pound barrier in a climatic fashion, and in doing so, set the new mark for Neck Lifting.  I would like to think that both of these guys learned everything they know about Neck Lifting from me – but I know that isn’t true! (but I did make both of their neck harnesses which might have helped them a little bit…)  

HONERABLE MENTION FOR NUMBER ONE -

1.  Chad “THE CHAMP” Ullom lifting the Dinnie Stones for 25 reps! I giving this Honorable Mention Number One because this was not a competition lift – but done within the realms of an IAWA event.

Chad Ullom lifting the Dinnie Stone.

The day after the Gold Cup in Glasgow several of us made a visit to lift the Dinnie Stones. Chad was only hoping to become the FIFTH American to ever lift the stones unassisted (without straps) when he set up for his first attempt.  However, the stones came up with EASE!  It looked like he was warming up with a 135# deadlift!  After that he decided to test himself for total reps and finished with 25 unassisted reps with the Dinnie Stones, the most by anyone in a single day (done along with Mark Haydock of England).  It was a remarkable display of strength.  His performance must have shocked the stone lifting community because afterwards he endured much criticism for this performance along with a personal attack on his character (which included being called a numpkie – I had to ask an English friend what that meant!!  haha ) .  Most of this was fueled by envy and jealousy to discredit him (along with Mark) and to try to take away from their great display of  Dinnie stone lifting.  However, both of these guys showed what class they have by not publicly responding to these personal attacks and proved to me (and others) that they are honorable  individuals.   That’s all I’m going to say about that – I don’t have the time or energy  to deal with the HATERS.

I do want to point out with all this that it was me that suggested they stop at 25 reps to mark the 25th anniversary of IAWA. That was NEVER a goal of theirs going into this day.  They could have done another 25-50 reps if they really wanted to.  Chad’s hands were not the least bit damaged, and his 25th rep was as strong as his first. His grip was not slipping at all and he could have done many more reps.  He looked to me that he was just getting “warmed up”!!  However,  lunch time was upon us and I had to think of some way to get them to stop. I was getting hungry and the fish and chips at the Potarch Hotel were calling to me!!

Neck Lift Challenge at Worlds

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom (left) and Eric Todd (right) both lifted over 1000 pounds in the Neck Lift Challenge!

OK – I promise that this will be the blog that “wraps up” the news from the 2012 World Championships.  I know I have said that already a few times. However, I want to HIGHLIGHT a special event that will “go down in history” in several peoples minds that were there to witness it first hand.  It was quite a spectacle and one of the most memorable events that I ever remember happening at any lifting event I have ever been at.   Chad Ullom and Eric Todd had agreed to a NECK LIFT CHALLENGE to determine “once and for all” who the Worlds best Neck Lifter is.  They have been trading the Overall World Record “back and forth” between them over the past couple of years. 

Frank Ciavattone (center) served as the Head Official of the Challenge.

Neck Lifter EXTRAORDINAIRE  Frank Ciavattone assumed the role of Head Official.  It is only appropriate that Frank perform this duty – as his Neck Lifting resume is a mile deep!  I took on the roll of the announcer, and I have to admit that I got “caught up in the moment”.   The parameters of this Challenge was laid out beforehand to stimulate competitiveness – unlimited attempts with each lifter getting to choose what they wanted to go to next.  I made a call of a weight, and then they could decide if they wanted to try it or not.  The weight on the bar for THE FIRST warmup was 500 pounds!! It wasn’t that long ago when 500 pounds was considered a world class lift in the Neck Lift.  However on this day it was just the first warmup!!  It wasn’t long and both lifters were over 700 pounds.  At this point – each lifter started using a little strategy to gain an advantage over  the other.  The Champ went to 800, and got it easily.  ET countered with 850, and then Chad went after a NEW WORLD RECORD of 920#, which appeared as a very easy attempt.   ET then made the call to go after the BIG 1-0-0-0.   At this point things were really heating up.  Eric got the 1000 pounds, and became the first lifter to break the 1000 pound barrier in the Neck Lift.  However, Chad then moved the bar to 1010 and with a great effort, made a successful lift.  TWO LIFTERS over 1000 pounds for the first time, and all happened in under 5 minutes!  ET then raised the weight to 1030, which maxed out the Neck Lift bar.  He made the lift in a dramatic fashion.   Chad countered with 1040, but it was just a little too much for him on this day.  After all, he had just completed a 2-day World Meet with many max lifts over the weekend before this monstrous challenge event!

An event like this we could have sold tickets for.  It was a climatic ending to a great weekend of lifting by all.

MEET RESULTS

Neck Lift Challenge
Dino Strength Training Center
Salina, Kansas
October 7th, 2012

Officials (3 official system used):  Frank Ciavattone, Frank Allen, Denny Habecker

Lift: Neck Lift

1. First Place – Eric Todd:  1030 pounds
Age 37 years, BWT 118 KG

2.  Second Place – Chad Ullom: 1010 pounds
Age 40 years, BWT 112.0 KG

Neck Lift Showdown!

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom (left) VERSUS Eric Todd (right) in a Neck Lift Challenge! Will one of these SUPERMEN exceed the 1000 pound barrier?

We are in for a SPECIAL TREAT this weekend at the 2012 IAWA World Championships. The two best Neck Lifters in the WORLD have agreed to have a duel – a NECK LIFT SHOWDOWN! Last year at the 2011 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in York, PA, Chad Ullom became the first man to exceed 900 pounds in the Neck Lift with a lift of 900.  Then this year at the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships in Bowling Green, OH  Eric “ET” Todd broke Chad’s record with a outstanding 905 pound effort.  However, ET’s record didn’t last long, as Chad upped it to 915 pounds at a record day in the Dino Gym this summer.  Well, that didn’t set well with Eric so this challenge was issued! (ok…in reality I set it all up, but it sounds better this way!!!!).  Both of these guys are “on the hunt” to be the first man to break the magical 1000 pound barrier.  Maybe this challenge on this big International stage will bring it out in them?  This will be a good ole’ fashioned ONE ON ONE DUEL, reminiscent of past circus shows between strongmen. 

The greatest Neck Lifter in HISTORY Frank Ciavattone will be on hand to be the head official for this duel.  Frank holds the Guinness WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift at 808# under the strict judging criteria of Guinness.  This is the link to Frank’s Guinness World Record:  http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-4000/heaviest-weight-lifted-by-neck/ .  This battle will occur right after the finish of Sunday’s competition, while the meets scores are being tabulated. It is something that you will NOT WANT TO MISS!!

Lifter of the Month: Eric Todd

by Al Myers

Eric Todd performing the Hip Lift that won him BEST LIFTER at the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships.

Since I’ve started this monthly award last month, I better continue it!  However, I am finding that this is going to be an ongoing difficult process as there seems to be several “worthy candidates”!  But this month the award goes to Eric Todd because of his big overall victory at the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships at Bowling Green.  Despite the great individual performances at Jobes Steel Jungle Record Days, a championship triumphs any record day, so it is only fitting that ET is crowned the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for May, 2012. 

Eric not only won the Heavy Lift Show, but he did it in record fashion.  His 905 pound Neck Lift is bound to make the “top ten” lifts of the year for 2012.  Also, his victory puts him on a “short list” of past USAWA Heavy Lift Champions.  This meet in the past has been dominated by just a few individuals – Steve Schmidt, Joe Garcia, and Frank Ciavattone. 

Also figuring into my decision was the manner in which ET won the meet.  It wasn’t easy for him – and came down to getting his last attempt on the Hip Lift to make it possible.  The weight (2075#) was more than he had ever attempted in the Hip – but his focus and great preparation allowed him to be successful with it.  Congrats ET – for being the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for May, 2012.

ET’s 905 Neck Lift!

by Al Myers

Eric Todd established a new Overall World Record Neck of 905# at the 2012 Heavy Lift Championships. Longtime allrounder John Kurtz is in the background watching this impressive lift.

I didn’t think it would be possible – seeing Chad’s big WR Neck Lift of 900 pounds get broke so soon.  But it did happen, and just like last year, happened at the event highlighting the chain lifts, the Heavy Lift Championships.  Eric Todd, of Cameron Missouri, put up successful lifts last weekend in the Neck Lift of 700#, 800#, 860#, and then with his extra record set the record with a lift of 905#!  As I said yesterday, the 900 barrier is now the level to shot for to be considered as “one of the best” in the Neck Lift. I always knew ET might have this ability in him.  He is a former wrestler and has a neck like a NFL linebacker.  I also knew he had the mental toughness to not be intimidated by this large amount of weight.  He made the lift rather easily as well.  Congratulations Eric on setting this new record!!!

Battle in the Barn

by Eric Todd

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – BATTLE IN THE BARN

Sunday, March, 25 2012 will be the inaugural “Battle in the Barn” which will be the third USAWA Old Time Strongman event. 

Eric Todd will be the meet director for the "Battle in the Barn", the third Old Time Strongman Competition promoted by the USAWA.

Where:  ET’s House of Iron and Stone-The KCSTRONGMAN headquarters near Cameron, MO

When: March 25 at 10:00 AM

Weigh ins: 9:00 AM

Entry Cost: $20

Entry Deadline : Entries must be in hand by Sat, March 17, 2012

Divisions:  Lightweight (under 200#), Middleweight (200-250#), Heavyweight (Over 250#), Masters (over 40)

Awards:  Awards for top 3 per division.  Best lifter award.               

Events:  Appollons Lift, Crucifix, Partial Deadlift, and Goerner Stroll

Rules of the Lifts

Apollon’s LiftA 2 inch diameter axle (or Fulton Bar)  will be used as the bar for this lift.  The maximum starting bar height is 12 inches measured from the platform to the bottom of the bar.  Any method may be used to take the bar to the shoulders or overhead.  The bar or plates are allowed to retouch the platform during the lift.  If the bar is placed down or dropped, the lifter may try again as many times as he/she wants within the time limit.  A time limit of 1 minute is allowed.  Once the weight is overhead, with arms’ locked, legs straight,  and the feet in line with the torso,  an official will give the command to end the lift.

Crucifix (standard USAWA Rules) –  Two evenly loaded dumbbells or kettlebells are used for this lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The dumbbells are taken to arms’ length overhead with the palms of the hands facing each other and dumbbells touching. The lifter must bring the feet together so the heels are together and touching. The body must be upright at the start of the lift. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the dumbbells to the side with arms’ straight and palms up. Elbows must be fully locked. The lifter may lean back to any extent when lowering the dumbbells. The wrists do not need to be held straight. The legs must remain straight and knees locked throughout the lift. The heels must remain together and the heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the arms are parallel to the platform, and the dumbbells motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

Partial Deadlift  – This is a partial deadlift, where the bar height must not be over 18″ from the platform.  The plates or bar may be supported on stands or blocks to obtain this height.  The lifter must have the bar in front of the legs, as in a normal deadlift. Lifting straps or any other gripping aid is not allowed.  It is NOT an infraction to drag the bar up the legs, bounce the bar up the legs, or support the bar on the legs during the lift (hitching).  A one minute time limit is allowed for the lifter to make a legal lift, during which time a lifter may make multiple tries.  Once the lifter is totally upright and the bar motionless, an official will give the command to end the lift.

Goerner Stroll- Two barbells will be used.  The lifter must pick up both barbells at the same time, one in each hand, and walk (or run) a distance of 1 rod (or 16.5 feet).  The starting and finish lines must be marked.  The plates on the bars must be behind the starting line at the start, and finish entirely beyond the finish line at the end.  The weight selected on the bars must not be changed during the attempt.  Both bars must be loaded to the same weight.  A one minute time limit is allowed for the attempt.  If the bars are set down or dropped between the  starting and finish lines during this 1 minute time limit, the lifter may start over, but MUST restart at the starting line.  Strapping the bars to the hands is NOT ALLOWED.

All other general rules of the USAWA will apply.  Scoring will be done according to the USAWA guidelines. Each competitor will get three attempts of their choosing with the best one counting towards their total.

Entry Form – Battle_in_the_Barn_entry

Any Questions, please ask on the forum, or email me at SalGuimino@yahoo.com.

Strongman Championships

by Thom Van Vleck

Group picture from the FIRST EVER USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships.

The “new” Old Time Strongman format took another step forward with a Championship hosted by the Jackson Weightlifting Club on October 16th, 2011.  Ten lifters showed for this inaugural event which I plan on making an annual meet on the same weekend as the Scottish Highland Games I host.  My hope is that each will help promote the other.  This year I had three throwers stick around and lift the second day.

We started in the JWC Training Hall with the Anderson Squat.   This lift was done from a starting position 2/3 of the lifters height or less.  The challenge was starting a squat from the bottom position.  I have a very large dry erase board which served as our scoreboard making it easy for lifters to see where their competition was at.  That paid off for John O’Brien after Al Myers hit what most of us thought would be the biggest squat of the meet with 760lbs.  But John had the last lift and called for 765 and made it with power to spare.  Honestly, I think both men could have went over 800lbs had they gauged their attempts better, but being a brand new lift a lack of experience showed for everyone.  I cannot recall a single miss in this lift, which shows everyone had more in the tank!

Meet director Thom Van Vleck put up a BIG Anderson Squat with a fine lift of 620 pounds.

The second event was the Anderson Press.  The bar had to be set no higher than your height.  Eric Todd and Chris Anderson both topped out over 300lbs with Eric hitting a meet best of 350lbs.  It is interesting to note that you would see lifters make a lift easily, then make a slight increase, like 20lbs, only to find the bar seemed to be superglued to the rack!

Eric Todd put up the TOP Anderson Press with a great lift of 350 pounds.

The third event was the Dumbbell Shoulder.  In this event you could lift the dumbbell to the shoulder in any way you wanted.  This included using both hands, hooking it on the belt along the way, and rolling it up your chest!  It was fun to watch guys getting creative.  At one point, as Chris Anderson muscled up 300lbs for the top lift in this event, Al Myers said, “It looks like you were wrestling a bear”!  Joe Costello  ran out of attempts and before the dumbbell was unloaded he walked over and shouldered the 300lbs!  Joe was heard to say, “Next time…..”.  I’m sure this event will be in the future of Old Time Strongman and Joe will get that lift officially…and more!

Chris Anderson had the BEST Dumbbell to Shoulder with a tremendous lift of 300 pounds.

The last event of the day was the only lift that had been contested before.  This event was the Dinnie Lift.  Two vertical bars set at the same height and loaded in offsetting weights the same percentage as the real Dinnie Stones.  In other words, one had to be loaded no more than 70% of the weight of the other.  We had a four way tie for the top lift in this event with Al Myers,  Joe Costello, Chris Anderson, and Eric Todd all pulling 705lbs.  An interesting problem led to this….that’s all we could fit on the bar with the weights present in the gym!  The JWC has a lot of weights, but many of them are old school “deep dish” York and Jackson plates.  These did not allow the bars loaded over the 705lb mark.  We were even loading smaller plates in the space between the deep dish plates!  This may have had an effect on the outcome as Eric Todd had one attempt left but no way to load the bar any higher.  Here is why.

After the age and weight formulas were applied, Al Myers was the victor for overall best lifter honors.  However, Eric Todd was a close second.  What if Eric would have had his last attempt?  I feel badly about that, but then again, Al might have hung with him as it was apparent both had more left.  Interestingly, Joe Costello edged out John O’Brien in a close race for 3rd place.  John lifted more weight, but Joe was lighter by nearly 40lbs and the difference paid of for him.  Fifth went to Chris Anderson as he avenged his loss to me at the NAHA nationals.  Chris is only 23 years old and he is sure to only improve.  I was 6th followed by Rudy Bletscher, Dean Ross, Mike Murdock, and Lance Foster.

Rudy, Dean, and Mike have competed many times and this event was like the rest.  These guys push each other hard and yet the the obviously have nothing but respect for one another.  Rudy came out on top in what might have been a late birthday present since he turned 76 the day before.  They are very evenly matched and that makes for some good competition.

I thought the meet went well other than the loading situation on the Dinnie Lift.  I will have to get some thinner plates if we contest that event again because I’m going to host the event next year!  The Awards were my “trademark” anvils and the meet shirts were the latest version of the JWC gym shirt.    I really appreciated how the lifters helped clean up and put the weights away after the meet.   You could not ask for a greater group of guys. Friendships forged in iron!

MEET RESULTS

USAWA Old Time Strongman Championships
October 16th, 2011
JWC Training Hall
Kirksville, Missouri

Meet Director:  Thom Van Vleck

Officials (1 official system used):  Al Myers, Thom Van Vleck, Mike Murdock, Eric Todd

Loader:  Mitch Ridout

Lifts: Anderson Squat, Anderson Press, Dumbbell Shoulder, Dinnie Lift

Lifters:

Al Myers – Age 45, BWT 253#, 115 KG Class & Masters 45-49 Age Group
Rudy Bletscher – Age 76, BWT 213#, 100 KG Class & Masters 75-79 Age Group
Joe Costello – Age 36, BWT 253#, 115 KG Class & 20-39  Age Group
Dean Ross – Age 68, BWT 283#, 125+ KG Class & Masters 65-69 Age Group
Mike Murdock – Age 71, BWT 234#, 110 KG Class & Masters 70-74 Age Group
Lance Foster – Age 45, BWT 318#, 125+ KG Class & Masters 45-49 Age Group
Chris Anderson – Age 23, BWT 287#, 125+ KG Class & 20-39 Age Group
Eric Todd – Age 36, BWT 250#, 115 KG Class & 20-39 Age Group
Thom Van Vleck – Age 47, BWT 299#, 125+ KG Class & Masters 45-49 Age Group
John O’Brien – Age 42, BWT 291#, 125+ KG Class & Masters 40-44 Age Group

Lifter Squat Press DB Dinnie Total Lynch Points
Myers 760 270 270 705 2005 1581.1 1676.0
Todd 710 350 230 705 1995 1583.0 1583.0
Costello 710 275 230 705 1920 1514.1 1514.1
O’Brien 765 270 270 635 1940 1428.8 1471.7
Anderson 620 310 300 705 1935 1434.4 1434.4
Van Vleck  620 230 230 440 1520 1104.9 1193.3
Ross  460 180 150 440 1230 917.9 1184.2
Bletscher  280 130 120 410 940 811.3 1111.5
Murdock  280 140 120 410 950 779.7 1029.2
Foster  400 140 200 440 1180 833.4 883.4

NOTES: All results listed in pounds.  Total is total pounds lifted. Lynch is points adjusted for bodyweight. Points are overall points adjusted for bodyweight and age.

BEST LIFTER AWARDS

Best Lifter Overall - Al Myers
Best Lifter 20-39 Age Group – Eric Todd
Best Lifter 40-44 Age Group – John O’Brien
Best Lifter 45-49 Age Group – Al Myers
Best Lifter 65-69 Age Group – Dean Ross
Best Lifter 70-74 Age Group – Mike Murdock
Best Lifter 75-79 Age Group – Rudy Bletscher

Best Crucifix Lifts of All-Time

by Al Myers

Eric Todd and his USAWA record performance in the Crucifix, with a lift of 140 pounds at the 2005 Deanna Springs Memorial Meet.

I think it is only appropriate to HIGHLIGHT the best lifts ever in the Crucifix since it is our signature lift, as demonstrated by the USAWA logo.  The rules of the Crucifix are often misunderstood.  People will  assume it is the same as other similar lifts like the Iron Cross, Muscle Out or Side Lateral, but the Crucifix Lift is much different. The USAWA Rules of the Crucifix Lift is as follows:

Two evenly loaded dumbbells or kettlebells are used for this lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The dumbbells are taken to arms’ length overhead with the palms of the hands facing each other and dumbbells touching. The lifter must bring the feet together so the heels are together and touching. The body must be upright at the start of the lift. Once in this position, an official will give the command to start the lift. The lifter will then lower the dumbbells to the side with arms’ straight and palms up. Elbows must be fully locked. The lifter may lean back to any extent when lowering the dumbbells. The wrists do not need to be held straight. The legs must remain straight and knees locked throughout the lift. The heels must remain together and the heels and toes must not rise during the lift. Once the arms are parallel to the platform, and the dumbbells motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The best All-Time USAWA lift in the Crucifix is held by Eric Todd, with a lift of 140 pounds performed at the 2005 Deanna Springs Memorial Meet in the 110K Class.  This lift was judged under the strict judging of Bill Clark.  Eric holds a couple of other weight group records with lifts of 130 pounds and 120 pounds, so he is the REAL DEAL when it comes to the Crucifix Lift.  I have competed several times in meets with Eric when the Crucifix was being contested, and I am always amazed at what he does. Only four other USAWA lifters have ever done over 100 pounds – these being Sam Huff, Mike McBride, Bill Spayd, and Ed Schock (who has the top Master Lift in the Crucifix at 100  pounds). The top teenager in the Crucifix is Abe Smith, who did 70 pounds. Amokor Ollennuking has the top female lift in the USAWA with a lift of 60 pounds.

The famous picture of Joe Southard, performing a Crucifix Lift of 130 pounds in 1963.

What is the best Crucifix in history?  I did some research and their are several “claims” but most seem to have not been verified.  I consider Louis Cyr to be the best in history.  Cyr did a Crucifix with 94 pounds in the right hand, and 88 pounds in the left, for a total weight of 182 pounds. Marvin Eder and Doug Hepburn both were credited with a “Crucifix- like lift” of 100 pounds per hand, but were judged “less than strict”.  Among Old-Time Strongmen, George Hackenschmidt did a Crucifix 0f 180 pounds in 1902.  But even Hackenschmidt said in his own words that it was performed “in a less strictly correct style”.

One thing is certain – the description and rules of the Crucifix has been different throughout history, and not always conforming with today’s set USAWA rules. Actually, the USAWA rules make the Crucifix as difficult as possible with these criteria: heels being together throughout, elbows fully locked at finish, and the lift being completed upon official’s command, thus requiring the weight to be momentarily paused. Joe Southard, the great Illinois All-Rounder, did 130# in the Crucifix at 165# bodyweight in 1963.  This was considered the World Record for quite some time for a competitive Crucifix Lift. The picture of Joe Southard doing this record became well known to USAWA lifters, as it graced the cover of our Rule Book for several years.  But look at the picture closely – and you will notice the dumbbells Southard was using were not loaded evenly on both ends, which would not comply with  today’s USAWA Rules. How much that would help I have no idea. Another couple of lifters who excelled at the Crucifix in the Mo-Valley All-Rounds (before the USAWA was formed) was Steve Schmidt (110# Crucifix at 220# BW in 1985) and Bob Burtzloff (100# Crucifix at HWT in 1982).  Both of these lifts were officiated under the same rules as we use today.

The Crucifix has only been performed in one meet in the USAWA these past few years, and that is the Deanna Springs Memorial Meet, hosted by Bill Clark.  It is in the Deanna Meet EVERY year, as the events in that meet don’t change. The Crucifix Lift is the perfect example of a true “odd lift”, and for this reason makes a great “poster lift” for the USAWA .