2003 Women's National Championships
Jan 31 - Feb 1
Lincoln Nebraska
Meet Director: Jim Hart

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by Larry Maile

The 2004 version of the USA Powerlifting Women's Nationals came off in grand style. It proved again why this is the premier powerlifting competition for women in the world. One hundred twenty five women, ranging in age from 11 to 66 years old contested for the title of National Champion. What makes this contest so unique is that is limited to women, and more than any other thing, the camaraderie between competitors. The young lifters have the opportunity to lift on the same platform as their role models, and the more mature lifters get to see the future of the sport. The future, in the case of women's powerlifting is bright indeed.

One of the competition highlights was the inauguration of the USA Powerlifting Women's Hall of Fame. Seven pioneers of powerlifting, and especially drug free lifting were inducted to initiate the "Hall." Senior among the inductees was Mabel Rader, who along with her husband, Perry, started Iron Man magazine in 1936. Judy Gedney was recognized for her long run of National titles, and for her commitment to the drug free lifting movement. Jan and Terry Todd were honored for their efforts in organizing the first Women's National Championships, and for their efforts in lobbying for drug testing in powerlifting. Also significant were their individual accomplishments on the platform. Ruth Welding enters the Hall of Fame because of her long and distinguished career. She has lifted in all but two (That's right. All but two!) Women's Nationals. She has served as referee, coach, and organizer for numerous competitions and teams. Pat Malone, Coach of the Purdue powerlifting team is recognized for his support of women's lifting through coaching, manufacturing gear for women, and hosting drug free women's only powerlifting meets when no one else was interested. These distinguished pioneers helped shape women's powerlifting, provided opportunities to compete, and recognition for women competitors at critical times so that development of lifting for women could continue rather than being an after thought to men's events. Our thanks must go out to all of them. I'd like to also thank the members of the Women's Hall of Fame Committee for taking the time and having the dedication to develop criteria for selection, screen candidates, put biographies together, and prepare a presentation worthy of the contributions of these great leaders.

The venue for this competition was the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Omaha. The venue was well set up and spacious with three warmup stations. The medals were prepared just for this competition, and featured a women lifter on them (about time, I think). Awards were given for total for every division, as in all meets, but also for individual lifts within grouped age divisions. The best lifter awards featured pictures of each lifter performing either a squat or deadlift. Jim Hart, in his second to last National Championship outdid himself. He recruited the assistance of many people from Nebraska, South Dakota, and Colorado in staging this production. And now, on to the lifting.

Youth Division:

This year marked the first appearance of youth lifters (those 10-13) in national competition. Four girls, three 11 and one 13 graced the platform and proved that kids can enjoy this great sport as much as their older peers. Kendra Miller, our most diminutive competitor, in the 35 kg. (77 lb.) class of the Youth 1 (Y1) division (10 and 11 year olds). She had a perfect 9/9 day, showing the technical excellence that we hope to inspire in all our novice and developing lifters. Youth lifters are scored on their best six attempts (two from each lift) to encourage them and their coaches to select weights that they can do comfortably and in good form. Kendra's six lift total was an impressive 520 kg. Kalyssa Maile, lifting in the 44 kg. class, Y1 division also had a perfect day, with a six lift total of 350 kg. Katherine Williams, Y1 division, 48 kg. class achieved a six lift total of 397.5 kg. She missed two benches which dropped her total significantly since she was not able to count two attempts in that discipline. It was probably due to pre-meet nerves. She will be a great lifter though, and showed good coaching and a lot of potential for strength. Lifters in the Y2 division are scored that same way as older lifters, counting the best attempt in each discipline. Our one Y2 competitor was Caitlin Miller, who is 13. She competed in the Open as well as the Y2 division and totaled 320 kg. That was good enough for second place in the Open division. Caitlin will be 14 prior to Open Worlds and is a strong alternate. She locked up the 44 kg. spot on the team for Sub-Junior Worlds.

44 kg. class:

Ashley Robbins, of Iowa, and formerly of Louisiana Tech posted the highest total in this class, 337.5 kg. She will definitely be a good representative of the U.S. at the Women's World Championships in Cahors, France. Caitlin Miller took the silver medal, and Tina Carder, 2.5 kg. behind, the bronze. Erin Dickey, of Michigan (and the Alaska Iron Maidens) placed 4th followed by many time Worlds competitor, Cathy Solan. Cathy also won the Master 2 division with a fine 300 kg. total. Donna Alimosa won the Master 3 division with an IPF World Master Record squat of 95.5 kg. She has been trying this for some time, and Saturday was the day. She attempted a Master World Record in the deadlift (120.5 kg.) but wasn't able to finish it. Tina Carder won the Teen 18-19 division establishing the total to beat to make the Jr. World Team. Erin Dickey will be chasing her at the Collegiate Nationals.

48 kg. class:

The 48 kg. class showed some significant depth this year, with 11 competitors. Three time World Champion, Jennifer Maile coasted to an easy win despite being sick through the previous night. Her 417.5 kg. total was less than she expected, and promises more in the near future. She attempted, and easily locked an Open World Record of 185 kg. before losing her grip. Fifty year old Ann Leverett, perennial National Champion and Master World Record holder went on to eclipse the previous World standard in the squat, deadlift, and total. Ann says she worked hard this year on squat technique, and it showed. Where in previous years, she tended to bend forward and struggle for depth, this year, her squats were perfect: deep, and easy. Ashley Mathern won the Jr. division with a respectable 340 kg. total. This earns her the elite ranking. Kim Ryman placed first in the 40-44 division, and Megan Bruischart won the 14-15 division.

52 kg. class:

Ashley Awalt, last year's Jr. World Bronze Medalist, was the favorite this year with the absence due to injury of 2003 IPF World Champion Siouxz Hartwig. Ashley totaled 400 kg. on a 5/9 day, with a Jr. American record in the squat. She struggled to get her deadlift opener, but due to balance problems rather than any lack of strength. Ashley will pass on Open Worlds to concentrate on Jrs., a loss for the Open Team. Leah Marrietta took the Silver in the open division, and the gold in the 18-19 division. Hawaii's Desiree Arelliano placed third in the Open and 2nd in the Junior division. Not bad for her second meet. Fourth place went to Lora Marrieta. The final open medal went to Maura Shuttleworth, of Minnesota.

The 14-15 division was won taken by Kayla Paff, the 16-17 by Lora Marrieta. 2002 and 2003 World Master Team member, Vera Nelson, from North Dakota won the 40-44 division and qualified for this year's World Master Championships in India. Forty nine year old Deb Hairston was the M3 winner, due to inclusion in the 50+ Master Team for the World Championships. Deb is a new lifter, having competed less than two years. She shows great poise and a promise of great totals in the future. We are seeing another competitor showing that there are really no age limits in women's lifting. She is just getting started.

56 kg. class:

Seventeen year old Carly Nogle, the current IPF Sub-Jr. World Record holder took advantage of the absence of last year's champion, Michelle Amsden to show the rest of the field their future. Via age group World Records in the squat, deadlift, and total, she moved ahead of Jr. World Bronze medallist Codi Grubbs by 35 kg., 415 to 380 kg. Carly is a huge deadlifter which always pays off when it is a tight race at subtotal. Codi took the Jr. division gold medal and placed second in the Open, very likely locking up the Jr. World Team slot in this weight class. Master World competitor, Dana Deutsch (41) took the Open Bronze and the 40-44 age group Gold. She outpaced fellow Master 1 competitor Leigh Haynes, and Master 2 (45-49) lifter Gina Stepleton for the Master Team position. Jeannie Harms, from Colorado, took the 50-55 Gold Medal.

60 kg. class:

With World Master Champion, World Record holder, and Open World Bronze medallist, Bettina Altizer attending, the battle in her respective divisions was for second place. Bettina showed some determination after missing the chance to go for a World record squat by coming back and taking the World Master Bench Record with an excellent 140 kg. (308 lb.) effort. She didn't quite get her World Total record, but will definitely get it next time. She looks like a return medallist in the Open Worlds, and Master's as long as she chooses to compete. Karlyn Eslick placed second in the open via an almost perfect day (8/9). Angela Simmons, the excellent bench presser from Minnesota took the 40-44 Silver, followed by Ms. Eslick. Alaska's Kate Dingle-Craig won the 45-49 division. This is her 5th National Title. It is also worth noting that Kate is one of the original Alaska Iron Maidens, joining the team 20 years ago. Her first ADFPA Nationals was in 1986. Christina Henesian, an Escondido, California native placed first in the Jr. division. She took three attempts to get her squat opener in, but having seen her lift closer to home, she has much potential, especially in the deadlift, her specialty. Brenda Howard two time Master World Team member took the 50-54 Gold, and will return to better her performance at Master Worlds. Washington Supreme Court Justice, Faith Ireland won the 60-64 division. Faith was featured on CNN nationally since the contest. She credits powerlifting with helping her recover from a serious back injury as well as for giving her an outlet from her usually intense schedule. Donna Donaldson, the meet's oldest lifter took home the 65-69 Gold Medal. Alicia Laurents got better after a rough start to win the 18-19 division.

67.5 kg. class:

Spokane, Washington's own Priscilla Ribic put on what clearly was the outstanding performance of the meet, via a 600 kg. total. This makes her the first woman in USA Powerlifting history to score more than 600 Wilks' points. She followed an 8/9 performance and American records in all three lifts with a 245 kg. (540 lb.) World Record deadlift. Master's competitor, Paula Houston, veteran of many Nationals and member of several World Teams showed dramatic technical improvements and great poise in taking the Silver Medal in the Open. She reached her objective of making the Master World Team so that she can travel to New Delhi, always a dream for her. Christy Newman, who has lifted on several Junior World teams and matured into a great bench press competitor took the bronze medal. Alaska's Jennifer Franklin (Princess) placed fourth in the Open despite having forgotten her tiara. She won the Silver in the 16-17 age group behind Plainwell, Michigan's Molly Dennany. Hall of Fame honoree, Ruth Welding was the 45-49 division Champion. In addition to being a great lifter, Ruth sports the best biceps in powerlifting. Jane Larson-Wellborn, Minnesota rounded out the top 5 in the Opens. Jan Morello, who just missed the medals at the Jr. Worlds last fall in Poland was the best Junior in this class, and looks hard to beat for the Jr. team slot this year. Rita Carlsson took the Gold in the 50-54 age group, and Sarah Jaeschke the 16-17 division.

75 kg. class:

Rebecca Phelps, trying a new weight class, posted an excellent total, just missing the American Record total by 5 kg. She easily left 10 kg. on the platform in missed attempts, so should be good for the record next time out. Deadlift American record holder, Kimberly Walford placed second despite having to pass her third pull to catch her flight home. Last year's champion, and member of both the 2003 Jr. and Open World teams, Kimmie Everett was 7.5 kg. back with an excellent 495 kg. total. Disa Hatfield placed fourth. Disa is to be commended on two counts: having completed the meet this year, and having dropped two weight classes. These are just milestones along her climb to the top, and she clearly has a plan. Alaska's Deanna Chaney took the 40-44 Gold medal for the second year. She is the two time IPF World Master Champion, demonstrating greater poise on the platform than in previous years. Marsha Serre won the 55-59 division over Florette Ruggeria. Marsha has finally recovered from major knee surgery and her trademark deadlift (152.5 kg.) is back. Sonja McKinley and Regina Hackney battled down to the last pull in the 60-64 division with Sonja coming out on top by 5 kg. after the bar hit the floor.

82.5 kg.:

The 82.5 class exhibited both the pleasure and the pain of lifting sports. Last year's Open National and Jr. World Champion, Jessica Watkins hooked the squat stand on her opening squat. On her second, she bumped it again, dumping the bar. In the process, she injured her back and was unable to continue. Katie Ford, from Texas capitalized on this opening to take the Gold Medal, beating fellow Texan Malinda Baum by 40 kg. Katie will return to World competition after aging out of the Jr. division several years ago. Malinda brought the Gold home to Killeen in the 40-44 division.

90 kg. class:

Fifteen year old Bonica Brown surprised everyone in the 90's…except probably her coach, Tod Miller. She set four Sub-Junior World records and finished first in every lift but the deadlift. Wendolyn Allen silvered, and Dominique Calhoun bronzed. Holly Oxford placed fourth in the Open and took the 45-49 Gold. She seemed to suffer a little from pre-meet jitters, but having seen her train, she is much stronger than she showed this day. Junior Gold Medallist, Kelly Louque placed fifth in the Open. Linda Schaeffer, the IPF Master Gold Medallist came to break the Master World Record but it was not to be. She settled for the 40-44 division Gold medal. Susan Gill (57) won the Master 4 age group.

+90 class:

The best Unlimited Class lifter in the country, Liz Willett came to break the World Total Record in Omaha. Unfortunately, the pace of the meet (fast), and the heat in the venue worked against her and the rest of her competitors. She easily dominated the class, and had the total breaking deadlift to her knees before it slipped out of her hands. Her 665 kg.total still places her in the top three in the world, and she can console herself with the new squat World Record (629 lbs.). Liz is clearly the strongest woman in the world, and will show everyone what she can do in France in May. Four time Master World Champion, Harriet Hall (55) improved her World Records in the squat (237.5 kg.), bench press (145.5 kg.), and total (602.5 kg.) finally reaching her long sought goal of 600 kg. Sue Hallen took the Bronze and the 45-49 Gold, and Jade Dickens placed 4th. Ilani Taylor won the 40-44 division, Fran Huston the 50-54, and Shea Wallus the 16-17.

Team Competition:

This competition is the National Championships for Teens, Juniors, Open, and Master lifters, and includes a Combined Division wherein lifters of are combined to make a team that does not exceed ten scorers. The Combined is one of the most popular divisions, and allows a mixture of ages to lift together. Team placement is based on each lifters respective division placing, i.e. Youth, Jr. etc.

In the Teen division, Plainwell, the perennial High School National Champions took home the title. Louisiana Tech won the Jr. Division. Titan Support Systems beat out Hart's House of Power to win the Open Division. The Alaska Iron Maidens won the Master's title for the 5th year in a row. Six teams contested for the Combined title. The win was determined at the end of the day by who survived without a disqualification (bomb). The Alaska Iron Maidens beat out tough Plainwell and Louisiana Tech teams for the National Championship title after losing out the last two years. Quest Nutrition, Hart's House of Power, and Fort Hood (Texas) were 4th, 5th, and 6th, respectively.

Wrap up:

This competition was a celebration of strong, drug free women. 125 ladies came to Omaha to test themselves against the iron and each other. They were all winners. There were 16 world records set, and 50 American records. That is unheard of in any meet anywhere.

This meet is unique in strength sports, being the only, and largest grouping of women of all ages. The atmosphere is unequalled when considering each of the USA Powerlifting Nationals. The Master lifters mentor the teens and juniors. Women of all ages fight for the Open medals.

It was a great experience and a great competition. Everyone is looking forward to next year when we all get together in St. Louis to do it again. DON'T miss it.

Contest Photos
Thanks to Liz Willett, Priscilla Ribic and Lance Slaughter for the photos.

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