Highlights from the Biggest (and Greatest?) Women's Nationals Ever…
By: Nectar Kirkiris
The ingredients for a great meet are lots of hotly contested classes, a competent meet staff, many record attempts and a great meet location. All of these were in such abundance and this year's Women's Nationals that even veterans of our great sport, like Shawn Cain, couldn't say enough about how impressed they were with this years meet. The competitors at this meet not only displayed lots of strength and power but, to paraphrase Senator Strom Thurmond, "They ain't bad to look at", which once again proves that women and powerlifting do mix.
What may not be evident to all competing and attending, is the hard work and long hours that are required to pull off such a meet. Once again meet director, Dennis Brady, rose to the occasion to make sure that everything ran smoothly. Dennis has a real passion for powerlifting and puts tremendous pressure on himself to ensure that everyone has a positive experience at competitions he runs. Contrary to popular belief, he does often smile and laugh when he is not running a meet. Once again helping Dennis out were Sandy Brady, the lifters of B&W Gym, the Lane Tech Football team and many others. Personally, I was totally exhausted when everything was done. Most of you that saw me on the platform on Saturday and Sunday probably don't realize that I was also in charge of entertaining Ray Benemerito on Friday night. Fortunately, the hotel had plenty of beer in stock for me to properly carb load to have enough energy for the day.
In such a large meet with so many great lifters, winning the Best Lifter award is quite an accomplishment. When it is won by a 17 year old who deadlifted nearly 4 times her bodyweight it is almost unbelievable. Well, that is exactly what Jen Maile did. I was thinking of ways to describe her lifting and the only analogy I can make is that she reminds me of Tiger Woods right before he turned pro. Tiger, Like Jen, annihilated his peers in competition and proved that he could do the same at the next level. I have no doubt that Jen will do the same in a few years by being IPF World Champion. She is a machine on the platform. Flawless in technique and form and without a wasted motion in everything she does. During the meet, another teen, who looked to be a 132lb'er, asked me if she stood a shot at the best lifer award for teens, I didn't have heart to tell her that she would have had to total around 1200 for me to even bother calculating her Wilk's points. That's how dominant the young Ms. Maile was.
If an award can be given out for most improved lifters, then it would have to go to the large contingent from Plainwell, Michigan. The credit for this has to go to the Miller's and their staff. Every time I see them at Nationals, their lifters and team performance continues to improve. They've even learned how to play powerlifting's version of psychological warfare by initially entering Amber Mesik in the 123's for an anticipated showdown with Michelle Amsden. Amber stayed in her usually 132 class but, I doubt if it had any effect on Michelle who is as tough as nails in the heat of battle. I'm sure it made Michelle's coach, Greg Simmons, think a little more about strategy. Way to go Plainwell!
Souix-z Hartwig had a great meet and cruised into first place. Apparently, she couldn't get enough of just winning nationals because she was opening up a can of whoop-ass in air hockey down at the bar after the meet.
Bettina Altizer…finally, HAS COME BACK TO CHICAGO…(ok, I promise that is my one and only WWF reference). Bettina did make a comeback and reclaimed her title as 132lb champion but it didn't come easily. It is often said that competition makes you a better lifter and this was proved correct once again by Angie Overdeer. In spite of being the defending champion, Angie came into this competition as the underdog. However she went toe-to-toe with Bettina and made a HUGE jump on her final deadlift for the win. If there is one word that can describe Angie's last deadlift attempt, it is heart. It must have taken her about 15 seconds to grind the bar up to mid thigh but, even with a large crowd cheering her on…gravity was unfortunately victorious this time.
Power babe, Kara "Quadzilla" Bohigian stepped out of the magazines and into the platform to successfully defend her national title. In a few short years in powerlifting, her personality has already created a cult following for this mighty Armenian. What was even more impressive about her performance was that she was pretty sick a few weeks before this meet. This didn't stop her from setting an American record in the benchpress and attempting another in the deadlift. She is just starting to tap her potential and will no doubt be putting up some very big(ger) numbers in the near future.
Priscilla Ribic (I included the "s" this time, Pricilla…opps) has tons of untapped potential even though she still easily won the 165's. She's a little tentative on the platform, which seems to hold her back a little. As she gains more experience on the national and international level (and begins to realize how freaky strong she is!), she will put up some spectacular numbers.
Leslie Look reminds me of a Valkyrie from Nordic mythology with her hair set in two long, blonde braids and a very solid frame at 181lbs. She used all of that muscle in destroying a 501lbs squat. Maybe her power comes from the use of chains and bands…or maybe it comes from her handler wearing a "Gooooo Leslie" t-shirt. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because all I want to know is A.) when is she competing next? B.) where do I get one of those t-shirts?
The lifting in the unlimited class put a perfect ending to a fantastic weekend. Liz Willet came back on her 3rd attempt to make a 562lbs squat after missing it on her second. To show her appreciation for helping her get out from under the bar on her second attempt, she bought me a beer after the meet. (Which makes me think that I should submit a rule at this summer's NGB meeting that requires all lifters who miss a squat to buy the spotters a round of beers after the meet. The second part of my proposal will be that the bar must start at 1,000lbs for all squats). Equally impressive in this class were Powerlifting Video hostess, Vicki Hembree, who returned to the platform after a significant lay-off, and Harriet Hall. Both of these girls are just beginning to tap their power. To all other IPF women Master UNL…be afraid…be VERY afraid!
In spite of having to deal with cold beer, vegetables that weren't overcooked and a general mutilation of the Queen's English, I would say that the team from Great Britain greatly enjoyed themselves as guest lifters. I know that everyone in USA Powerlifting enjoyed having them here and we wish them all many pr's in their training. Cheers!
A big thanks to all the guys who came out to help and support the women…Capt. Kirk, Eddy Coan, Shawn Cain, Ray Benemerito, Frank Palmer, Wade Hooper, Greg Page, Greg Simmons, Lance Slaughter, Tony Cardella, Trey Cunningham, Mike O'Donnell, Brad Madvig, Bernie, Dr. Joe Vistitsky and way too many others that I'm forgetting.
USAPL Women's Nationals
L.J. Maile, Ph.D.
The 21st USA Powerlifting Women's Nationals were held the 8th, 9th, and 10th in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood. Veteran meet promoters, Dennis and Sandy Brady hosted what was to be the largest women's powerlifting event in USAPL history. 117 of the 123 women entered showed up to contest the U.S. Open, Teen, Jr., and Master's championships. Much discussion has been had over the past several years of separating these separate championships, perhaps merging them with the men's contests in their respective age groups, i.e. holding both men's and women's Jr. Nationals together. The Women's Committee has consistently been against this, arguing that having all the women lifters together in one place at one time makes a better competition, allows those in age groups other than the open to contest for the open title, and increases mentoring of younger lifters by those more experienced. That is exactly what occurred. The sense of camaraderie was very likely unsurpassed in any other USAPL competition.
The task of promoting a National Championships is daunting, to say the least. Dennis and Sandy Brady have hosted 19 National meets since the mid-80's, and are slated to organize Men's Nationals this summer, and the 2003 IPF Women's World Championships. To say that they are one of the most valued assets in drug-free lifting doesn't do them justice. These championships ran very smoothly, especially given the number of competitors. Sandy served as primary announcer, with Dennis as platform manager, International Referee, and award manager. Mike Cissell was chief referee. Other referees who contributed their time to make this meet possible included: Jack Marsh, Michael Overdeer, Jim Hart, Sue Hallen, Stephanie Whiting, Judy Gedney, Ruth Welding, and many others whose names I am forgetting. Alberta Rodriguez managed the admissions table and Nectar Kirkiris served as chief spotter. Many other members of the B & W Gym production crew filled positions including manning the doors, scorekeeping, expediting, etc. All in all, a job superbly done. Five guest lifters from Great Britain attended these championships, and were very complimentary of the organization of the competition and the support they received from the crowd on each lift. They had never attended such a large women's competition, including World championships and are anxious to return.
This competition included many different divisions as all women's champions are recognized here. Highlights of the Open Division have been contributed by Nectar Kirkiris, also in this issue, but each division deserves its own coverage.
Eight girls competed in this age division. Carly Nagle, of Plainwell, Michigan, competing in the 114 lb. class set four American and National Meet records. Her 332.5 kg. total eclipsed the prior mark by a considerable margin, and was good enough for 2nd place in the open division. Lindsey Hartman from Nebraska out totaled Christine Bang by 22.5 kg. (287.5 vs. 265) to win the 132 lb. class. Lindsey was a member of Team Nebraska, who were represented in almost every class. Look for these girls to come back even stronger next year. At 148, Molly Dennany totaled 327.5 to beat Randy Forney (312.5 kg.) and Rachel Moore (247.5 kg.). The 165 lb. class had one entrant, Peggy Deaver, also of Nebraska, who totaled 287.5 kg. Shea Wallis is the National Champion in the Unlimited category, with a 352.5 kg. total.
Seventeen girls tilted in this age division, including two who won the open division in their respective weight classes. These lifters' performances reflect the bright future U.S. powerlifting will have as they mature. The 97 lb. winner, Erin Dickey of Michigan, totaled 305 kg. with four Teenage National Meet Records. She also won the open division title. Alaska's Jennifer Maile was the only entrant in this age division, but set four Subjunior (Teenage) World Records, as well as an open division World Record in the deadlift (183.0 kg.). Her total equaled the Open World Record. Both Erin and Jennifer will miss their high school graduation to lift in the Open World Championships. Camille Vanmeveren was the lone entrant in the 114 lb. class, and today, is the Teenage National Champion. Chelsea Jacobs exceeded the total of Jessica Stewart and Jessy Kohler in each of the three disciplines, to win the 123 lb. class 262.5 kg. to 222.5 kg. and 200 kg. respectively. Amber Mesick totaled a respectable 804 lbs. in the 132 lb. class to beat Renee Christensen and Phoenix Miller. Amber has totaled just under 900 lbs. at 123, and is sure to be an open division winner if she keeps her nose to the grindstone. Two entrants competed in the 148 lb. class, with Queen Underwood solidifying her victory over Marcy Deavers with a huge 162.5 kg. deadlift, and an National Meet Record. Patty White totaled 307.5 kg. to edge Kelli Hatfield (287.5 kg.) and Jamie Goodner (257.5 kg.) Jamie is the better deadlifter, but was unable to add enough on to catch Kelli at the end. The 181 class was won by Plainwell's Maggen Millen. She benched an American and National Meet Record bench press of 102.5 kg. (231 lbs.) on the way to a 400 kg. total. Bonnie Buckwood placed second. Meredith Gertner is the National Champion in the 198 lb. class with a 305 kg. total.
The next two divisions were, perhaps depleted due to the proximity of the Collegiate Nationals in a little less than two months. While younger lifters seem to benefit from more frequent competition, when they reach collegiate eligibility, many lifters are selecting one competition or the other. This certainly looks to be true for the Junior Division, especially. Annette Axt, from Nebraska totaled 232.5 kg. for the National title at 97 lbs., while four competitors met on the platform for the 114 lb. division. Cody Grubbs, of Louisiana Tech and the Powerlifting Grubbs family won with some balanced lifting in all events. Her 140 kg. (308 lbs.) squat was both American and National Records. Her total of 347.5 kg. must place her as the frontrunner coming into Collegiate Nationals, and will be a difficult total to exceed in making the World Junior Team. Tracy Sutton placed second with 290 kg., Jasmine Lee third (277.5 kg.), and Emily Demmers was unable to get a bench in. Natasha McClean is the National Champion at 123 lbs., with a 275 kg. total. Erin Waterman totaled 307.5 kg. at 132, and Destiny Joyner out-totaled Deanne Gertner by 20 kg. (347.5 to 327.5 kg.) at 148 lbs. There were two competitors in the 165 lb. class, with Amy Schlactenhauf coming out on top over Kelly Johansen. In the 198's, Rebekah Rudometkin, Oregon, was the lone entrant, and totaled a very respectable 455 kg. (1003 lbs.). She also competed as an Open lifter, placing fourth. The Unlimited class saw the return to the National Platform of Sarah Greenup, two time Jr. World Team member. She started off in style, increasng her American Teenage record in the squat to 230 kg. (507 lbs.) on her second attempt. She missed her third at 242.5 kg., but easily has the strength for this. Sarah totalled 530 kg. (1,168 lbs.), a significant improvement for her. Second place finisher, Erin Bailey totalled a very nice 452.5 kg. (997 lbs.), and shows that the Women's Unlimited now has a depth of talent that goes many places down in each age division.
Only 9 Juniors were entered, but the quality of the competitors clearly says that those who passed to compete in other meets may have not spared themselves. Two Junior lifters won their respective Open class and earned slots on the Open National Team. Five of these 9 lifters have been on either Junior and/or Open World teams. Erin Crapo totaled 265 kg. in the 97 lb. class, which, looking at past Jr. team rosters, is going to be hard to beat. Michelle Amsden is the 123 lb. Junior and Open class champions. She increased her personal record total via collegiate American, and National Records in the squat (155 kg.) and bench (92.5 kg.). Her 412.5 kg. total (909 lbs.) is a new American and National Jr. total record. Michelle has a busy competition schedule in the next few months, with plans to compete in the Student Cup World Championships in Novgorad, Russia, and the Open World Championships, in Riesa, Germany. Julie Kauffman totaled 322.5 kg. win the 60 kg. class, while Kimberly Walford edged Kim Callier-Hooper on bodyweight in the 148 lb. class. Callier-Hooper will surely improve on this already improved total from last year in this year's Collegiate Championships to secure the Jr. World Team slot she held last year. Aubrey Dunnivan was third with a 290 kg. total. At 75 kg., Katie Ford, 4 time Jr. World Team member moved up to the U.S. Junior age division (20-23), and posted a total that was high enough to place her second in the 165 lb. Open division. Jessica Watkins continued her string of Jr. National titles, totaling an American record 520 kg. total (1,146 lbs.). Jessica also won the open division, and has finally put together the big squat she has been capable of for some time. Look for 500 lbs. to fall soon. Returning Jr. National Team member, Mary Holt totaled 427.5 kg. for a strong training cycle going into Collegiate Nationals.
Master's 40 - 44:
In USA Powerlifting, age divisions for Master's are broken up in 5 year increments. However, there are 10 year divisions in international competition, so selection for traveling teams must be selected from collapsed age groups. We still recognize the smaller age divisions in our National Championships.
Perennial World Team member, and Bronze Medallist in the deadlift at the 2001 Open World Championships, Cathy Solan, totaled 285 kg. to repeat as National Champion at 97 lbs.. Cathy receives the offer to join the 2002 World Master's team competing in Argentina this October. Vera Nelson, in her first National competition, and second meet beat Lisa Carrel by 25 kg. to win the 114 class (250 kg. to 225 kg.). Vera set 3 National Meet Records in doing so (squat, 100 kg., bench, 47.5 kg., total 250 kg.) and has the opportunity to compete against the world's best in Argentina. Gina Stapleton is the 123 lb. National Champion, with a 240 kg. total. Sandra Mobley, finally healed from a chronic back injury, totaled 425 kg. to win the 132 lb. class. She set a Master's World record of 167.5 kg. (369 lb.) in the squat, a National Record bench (82.5 kg.), American and National Record deadlift (175 kg.), and American and National Record total. Sandra gets the automatic nod for the Master's team, with the two following competitors going into a very strong alternate pool. Second place was taken by Minnesota's Angela Simons, with who edged out Kate Dingle-Craig of Alaska 347.5 kg. to 340 kg. Kate had the winning deadlift locked, but baubled it on the way up. The 148 lb. class was won by Donna Covington, former Open World Team member, and Master's World Champion with a 392.5 kg. total. Donna and 45-49 age group winner, Ruth Welding are in a dead heat, in terms of total to win the World Team slot. Jeannie Livingston placed second. Nancy Fulmer was unable to get a squat in. In the 165 kg. class, Deanna Chaney won, earning a World team berth with a 412.5 kg. total. Janna Maile, described as the tallest women lifter in the world by the meet promoter, recovered sufficiently from a back injury to total 442.5 kg. on an 8 for 9 day. Colorado's Linda Schaeffer, in the 198 lb. class, finally got the World Master's deadlift record, previously held by Harriet Hall of 208 kg. (458.5 lbs.). Linda has been trying this lift for several competitions, and this meet, it came up smoothly and locked perfectly. Congratulations Linda! Persistence does pay off. Linda has the opportunity to represent the U.S. at in Argentina this fall. The Unlimited class marked the USAPL National platform debut of accomplished (and famous) lifter, recently competing in raw competition, Vicki Hembree. Vicki set Master World records in the bench (140 kg.), deadlift (215 kg.), and total (575 kg.), and placed second in a very tough Open Division.
At 105, many time National Champion, Ann Leverett was unable to get a squat passed. Ann is a great competitor, and will surely be back. Chen-er Mehmedbasich, of Colorado totaled a personal best 210 kg. to win at 114 lbs. South Dakota's Brenda Howard totaled 297.5 kg. to win the class, and earned a slot on the Master's World team. She won the "battle of the plains" when North Dakota State Chair, Diane Siveny failed in the bench. This is a great rivalry, though, and is sure to be renewed next year. Ruth Welding, who competed in the first IPF Women's World Championship, set a National meet record of 392.5 kg. in the total. Leah Smith, from Seattle, set National meet records in all four lifts on the way to a victory in the 82.5 kg. class.
World Champion, Donna Aliminosa retained her National title at 97 lbs. with a 230 kg. total. Donna came later to the powerlifting game, and improves every year. She is sure to repeat as World Champion this fall. Bonnie Cromwell, at 148 lbs., set American and National meet records in the squat (115 kg.), deadlift (130 kg.), and total (325 kg.) to earn the option of a World team berth. Two time World Champion, Harriet Hall, of Alaska, set Master II World records in all four lifts to total just 2.5 kg. short of her personal record. Harriet is competitive in the Open division, placing a close third at 54 years old.
Three competitors contested the 55-59 division. Washington Supreme Court Justice, Faith Ireland, returned after a disappointing first outing at the National level, and had obviously worked very successfully on technique and strength. She totaled 245 kg. in the 132 lb. class. Marsha Serre, USAPL Secretary/Treasurer, an international competitor in past years herself, won the 165 lb. totaling 307.5 for a new National Meet Record. She outdistanced Dana Backiel by 37.5 kg.
Judy Gedney is a legend in powerlifting. She has won more than 20 National Championships, and has more records than even she can keep track of. Despite this, she remains down to earth and humble about her abilities. She totaled an astounding 275 kg. (606 lbs.) at 61 years old, at a bodyweight just over the 44 kg. limit. Judy shows us that you can go on and on in powerlifting and be competitive as long as you choose to do so. Sharee Olson was the lone entrant in the 132 lb. class, and comes away with a National Championship. She lifted with great poise. Regina Hackney, Silver Medallist from the 2001 World Championships moved to 148 lbs. this year, and it was obviously a good decision. She set Master American records in the squat (105 kg.) and total (300 kg.), and National Meet Records in the bench (60 kg.) and deadlift (135 kg.). She has clearly devoted considerable attention to technique as her form was flawless. Donna Steele won the 165 lb. National Championship with three Master American Records (squat, 110 kg., bench, 70 kg., total 310 kg.). Anna Collins, lifting in the 65 - 69 age division at Unlimited set 4 National Meet Records enroute to a 182.5 kg. total. Georgia Johnson, back from disappointment last year in Ft. Wayne, and competing in the 70-74 division at 148 lbs. totaled 125 kg.. She took the hard lessons learned last year and came back technically better and stronger as well. Finally, Alma Beck, at 78 years old and lifting at 123 lbs. totaled 185 kg., an American Total Record. Mrs. Beck is an inspiration to most of us, having started powerlifting at 68 years old, and getting better all the time.
Five women from Great Britain "guested" at this championships, as mentioned in the introduction, were very well received. Marie Durk, the two time British Junior Champion totaled 227.5 kg. at 97lbs. Heather Hampson, who generally lifts at 105 lbs., moved up a notch this time. She had some difficulty getting a squat in, taking three times. She totaled 357.5 kg., just short of her personal best and was very thankful for the cheering of the crowd on her final squat attempt (successful). British 60 kg. Champion, Marian Gibson also moved up a category for these championships, and set a National record in the bench (107.5 kg.), and a 475 kg. total. Maybe this is going to be a permanent move as she did very well at the higher bodyweight. Jennifer Busby, who has just aged out of the international Junior division, totled 465 kg. in the 181 lbs. class. Jennifer looks to be a strong candidate for the National Open Team. Suzanne Last, who won the award for country dancing and billiards in the pub afterwards, totaled 482.5 kg.
The 97 lb. Open Division was won by Erin Dickey, a high school Senior from Plainwell, Michigan. Erin edged last year's Open team member Cathy Solan by 20 kg. This promises to be an ongoing battle next year. At 105 lbs., Jennifer Maile totaled 425 kg., which equals the Open World record. She completed an Open World record 183 kg. deadlift, but had grip problems with a fourth attempt at 190 kg. (418 lbs.). She has done this lift in training, so expect to see it on the platform in the near future. Siouxz Hartwig handily won the 114 lbs. class with a huge increase from last year and a personal record of 415 kg. Siouxz just continues to improve. Michelle Amsden repeated as 123 lb. champion, upping her total from last year by 30 kg. Every lift continues to improve. At 132 lbs., it was a battle to the last deadlift. American Record holder, Bettina Altizer held a significant lead going into the final deadlift. Last year's champion, Angie Overdeer made a 27.5 kg. jump for the win on her final pull, and came within inches of locking it out. 1999 champion, Jennifer Ray totaled 425 kg. for third. This class was much closer than the results showed. At 148 lbs., last year's defending champion, Kara Bohigian repeated with an American record total of 482.5 kg. (1,063 lbs.). Priscilla Ribic easily won the 165 lb. class with an improvement of almost 50 kg. over her performance at last year's world championships and an American Record in the squat (205 kg.). Leslie Look just continues to improve. She came into this meet with some nagging injuries, and broke her own American Record in the squat with a 227.5 kg. lift. All her other lifts were done in perfect style. Leslie must be considered a shoe in for a medal at this year's World Championships. At 198 lbs., last year's collegiate champion, Jessica Watkins made a significant increase in her total to 520 kg. and outdistanced Fran Werle by 50 kg. California's Disa Hatfield was 2.5 kg. behind for a 467.5 kg. total. The battle of the Unlimited class was as exciting as powerlfting gets. Liz Willet repeated, and pushed her American record total up to 620 kg. That equals the Silver medal total from the World Championships last year, and Liz has a lot left. Vicki Hembree totaled 572.5 kg. in her first outing in years using equipment, and should improve significantly over the next few months. She is offered a position on the Master's team competing in Argentina this fall, and hopefully she will take it. She will make a great World Champion. Harriet Hall totaled 567.5 kg., 2.5 kg. off her best on a 6 for 9 day.
Best lifters were as follows. In the Open Jennifer Maile repeated as Champion of Champions, and was the Best Teen Lifter as well. Her 562 Wilk's points puts her on a an equal footing with the best in the world. Bettina Altizer and Siouxz Hartwig were second and third, respectively, based on Wilk's points. The best Junior lifter was Michelle Amsden, and best Master was Harriet Hall.
The team competition was won by Team Titan again this year, with many of the Open National Champions included on their very strong roster. Plainwell, Michigan placed second, and Team Nebraska, third.
This was a fantastic competition for both the lifters, and from a spectator's standpoint. Many American and World records fell, and in many of the sessions, it was not possible to determine the winner until the scores were posted. The depth of the field was amazing, with the largest class having almost 30 competitors (combined). The standard of officiating was excellent, being both fair and consistent. The future of Women's powerlifting is bright.
Until next year…..