The 4th USAPL American Open was again a brilliant success, even despite a major snow storm hitting a day prior to the start of the event! My luck with the weather gods this year was a tough one. But, the farmer's almanac ensures me a better year in 2006. In any event, this year's championship was held at the Hilton Hotel, located in Valley Forge/King of Prussia, which is located in the major shopping district/suburbs north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Hilton was very accommodating to our needs and made major concessions for us, due to the Radisson Hotel and Valley Forge Convention Plaza, last year's venue, bumping us for another major corporate/business event that was rescheduled from the New Orleans. Still, though, we were still in an extremely appealing location for business and leisure travelers, and the Hilton sits down the road from the historic Valley Forge National Park. The hotel is located twenty (20) miles from the Philadelphia city center and the International Airport. Moreover, I would like to add that this property also sits directly across the street from one of the largest shopping and retail centers/malls in the country - The King of Prussia Mall.
As for the history of King of Prussia, this area was settled by the Welsh immigrants who arrived in the area during the early 1700's. During this time, the land was named in honor of Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia. Some say that King Frederick was bestowed this honor for his assistance to the British in the seven Years War with France that ended in 1763. Some even say that it was named to in tribute to King Frederick's support to George Washington during the Revolution. Today, this is one of the finest retail-commercial and residential communities to live and frequent in the United States, and USA Powerlifting would like to thank the convention and visitors of King of Prussia for their kind and generous assistance by inviting us to their community, to make this championship a success.
Overall, the setting and location, served as a perfect location for this year's championship. Overall, the hotel services and property were exceptional, and I would like to publicly thank the entire staff of the Hilton Hotel for their efforts and assistance to the lifters and for being such a wonderful host - great job! Despite, the weather, this year's contest attracted some 130+ entries from 20+ states, and one team traveling all the way from South Africa. I would like to extend special thanks go to Johnny Graham, the USAPL Vice-President, for traveling to this year's championship, all the way from Texas - greatly appreciated! Overall, the lifting was exceptional, with multiple personal, state and American records set at this year's championship. There was also one  IPF World record set as well - Super job!
The American Open Championships: The Mission
The USAPL American Open Championships has been especially formatted for the intermediate and grassroots level lifter, wishing to gain valuable national-level experience, prior to lifting at either Men's or Women's National Powerlifting Championships, where they will attempt to qualify for a world team position. Important to note, all first place finishers in the open division at the American Championships automatically qualify, regardless of total, for their respective National Powerlifting Championship. Overall, the American Open Championships specific undertaking and mission, from my conception ten years ago, is to prepare lifters for the national and international platform. Specifically, the contest serves as intermediate-level 'stepping stone' for lifters to transition from the state and local level to the national championship level. Thus, the importance of having lifters follow one set of technical rules from the local to the international level - Those rules, of course, being IPF Technical Rules. In doing so, the transition time will be more efficient and less time consuming - In other words, the athletes will be much better prepared, earlier, for the "increased rigor" they shall experience on the national and international platform. As a symbol of success, many lifters from last year's American Open Championships went on to medal and place at the many USAPL National Championships and medal at a most recent IPF World Championship this past several year, with some even setting world records, which is a clear indication that this concept, indeed, really does work As such, I would encourage local, state and regional level lifters to attend next year's event that will take place over three (3) days in Palm Spring, California, under the direction of Mr. Lance Slaughter.
As part of the mission of the American Open, each year a training seminar is given as part of this concept to prepare the grassroots level lifter for the national platform. On Saturday evening, Dr. Robert Wagner presented a training seminar that discussed "Psychological Arousal Techniques used by Powerlifters", which was attended by nearly 60 participants. Personally speaking, I found the seminar to be extremely informative. Rob's seminars are based on empirical scientific data. Key and important, there was no charge for admission to the seminar. On behalf of the lifters and organization, I would like to say thank you once again for coming out and giving this talk! It goes without say that Dr. Wagner's seminar proved to be quite informative and well received by all of the athletes attending the championship. Rob is one of the premier professional strength coaches in the USA and his expertise is highly regarded and sought after my many professional athletes. Rob served as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for nearly fourteen years (14), and now has opened a commercial strength training/athletic facility in Ventor, New Jersey. If you are in the area, I would recommend contacting him for a training session. Information can be found at the following web-link: http://www.oceansidesj.com/
There were MANY tremendous performances at this championship! I shall begin with Disa Hatfield, daughter of Dr. Squat himself, Fred Hatfield. Fred and family members were in attendance to see Disa make some great attempts and break the American record in the bench press. Disa is one of the Women's USA Team members and at 165 this time around and lifted very well. Once she adjusts to the new class, she will go on to conquer more records like this in the future - this is only the beginning. Also, I would like to recognize Kristen Yukeness from Illinois and Jennifer Perry of Rhode Island who also lifted very well. Jennifer especially, only being a junior level lifter made some terrific attempts, which allowed her to capture the best overall female lifter award. Congratulations to all of the ladies! The men were equally as impressive as well, and I shall begin with Patrick Rooney, who lifted at 165, and went a perfect 9 for 9 to capture this title. His efforts awarded him a trip to this year's men's nationals in Miami! Also noteworthy, in the Saturday afternoon session, was Dave Nicastro, who set a new Deadlift record with 589lbs in the Masters 55-59 age group in the 165lb weight class. In the 181lb class, Shane Ajivade was very impressive with some very impressively made attempts, which produced his first national level title. In the 198s, Russ Laitres had a career day and punched up some serious national level number to win the toughest class of the meet, which had 11 competitors in the open category alone. Russ also took the best lifter award for this year's championship. Congratulations Russ! The 220lb class was a barn burner, with this weight class coming down to final deadlift. Great to see competition like this return to platform. When the dust settled, Mike Moylen of New York was victorious. He was followed by Richard Pachuta and Jim Nicolosi, with all three lifters totaling 715kg each. Mike won this class on the margin of bodyweight. Robert Hansen was close to coming from his fourth place position to snatch the title and nearly had his final attempt at 688lbs nearly locked out for the win, which would have made it a four way tie, with Robert winning on bodyweight -- A splendid finish to this session. Not to be left out, guest lifter Mike Mastrean from Pittsburgh stroked a VERY easy 799 squat, with room to spare. Folks this man is good for something like 848lbs by nationals, and will be a contender for this year's national title. His other lifts were equally impressive to say the least. In the final session of the competition, Mario Rojas, Lyndon Samuels, and Wade Lykens captured each of their weight classes with some outstanding lifting. Mario pulled his final gut-busting deadlift to edge Ray Ebner to win the 242 class. Mario has the distinction of being assigned to the military unit that captured Saddam Hussein, while assigned to Iraq this year. Folks this man is the essence and personification of toughness. And, is sacrifice along with many others, give us the freedoms to enjoy the great sport of Powerlifting - Thank you Mario! Lyndon Samuels of NJ is a strong guy that is only tapping his potential, with much more to come from this guy at the Men's National Championships this year in Miami. Finally, Wade Lykens stroked a beautiful 617lb bench press to give him an insurmountable lead that Jeff Fiss could not overcome, even after pushing a huge 733lb squat. Team champions again for the second consecutive year, went to Garage Ink coached by tank commander Niko Hulslander. It was especially heartwarming to see competitors cheering each other on at this contest. I will end by extending my sincere congratulations to all of the athletes for some really VERY good lifting and sportsmanship all around -- Now, on to the specific elements that made this championship successful.
International Level Equipment
The platform equipment for the contest was first rate and included the ER squat racks/bench press, calibrated chrome Ivanko bar and weights, Sorinex weightlifting platform, Barload software program, and a computerized scoring system and score-board for the spectators to the follow the competition. The warm-up room included two (2) warm-up platforms, with Sorinex and Serpa equipment, along with York Barbell bars and weights. A DJ was hired to play music between music between each attempt, which really fired up the crowd and the lifters before each and every lift. Finally, I would encourage you to visit the official championships web-site, which can be found at the following URL: http://www.geocities.com/floridausapl/2005AmericanOpen
This year, we tested fourteen (14) lifters - 10% of the total participants. Thirteen of the samples were sent to Quest Laboratories in Las Vegas, Nevada and one (1) sample went to the IOC lab at UCLA in California.
Special Thanks to the following People
To close, again this year, we had an army of volunteers come to the championship to assist with the direction of this year's championship. A program or concept, like the American Open Championships would not be successful, if it were not for the following people: Dr. Larry Maile - USAPL President/IPF Regional VP, Johnny Graham/USAPL Vice-president, William "Red-Light" Clayton - IPF Cat I Official/USAPL EC Member, Terri Kunsman and Mike D'Amore - USAPL Pennsylvania State Directors, Robert Wagner - former USAPL Coaching Committee Chairman. I would also like to thank the following referees and staff members, whose expertise ensured both the seamless, flawless and error free direction of this event. They are as follows; Al Siegel - IPF Category I Referee, Robb Grisham - IPF Category II Referee, Bill Ennis - IPF Category II Referee, Eric Steiner - IPF Category II Referee, Brenda Siegel - USAPL National Referee, Nick Theordorou - USAPL National Referee, Disa Hatfield - USAPL National Referee, Eliot Feldman - USAPL State Referee, Deb Hariston - USAPL State Referee, Dennis "Niko" Hulslander - USAPL State Referee, Don Wilson - USAPL State Referee, Alex Costa - USAPL State Referee, Jason Richardson - USAPL State Referee, Mike Shirey - USAPL State Referee, and notwithstanding, Sean Cosgrove and the Glen Mills School Powerlifting Team for their excellent and professional job spotting and loading during the event. Not one misload during the course of the entire event. I would also like to thank Jimmy the K for taking his pictures. Special and many thanks to each of you!
I would also like to sincerely thank all our sponsors for there generous donations to the contest. More times than not, sponsors are overlooked, and not appreciated for their significant contributions back into the sport of Powerlifting. As such, I would like to especially thank Titan Support Systems as our Gold Medal Sponsor, who made a most generous donation to the event - much appreciation and many thanks.
I would also like to recognize Peter Thorne and John Inzer from Inzer Advance Designs; Nick Theordorou - Nutritional Technologies; Steve Mann - Purepowerlifting.com; Mike Laird - Barload Software; Adam Auerbach - Ivanko Barbell; Rich Fowler - Graphics by Rick; Erik Rasmussen - ER Equipment (Denmark); Jim and Janelle Brown - Brown's Gym (Scranton, Pennsylvania) for their assistance. Each was significant in the overall success of this championship and would call upon the lifters of USA Powerlifting to support them in return. On behalf of USA Powerlifting, and the lifters - Thank you and much appreciated!
As I close this article, I would like to personally thank all of the athletes, their family members, and sponsors for their support of this championship. Also, like last year, I would like to request that each state chairman within the USAPL, encourage their lifters to attend this championship in 2006 - Especially to those lifters, wishing to gain valuable experience, before proceeding onto the national platform. The experience at this championship is invaluable -- Please spread the word! On a final note, it goes without saying that I am truly blessed to have the privilege to work with such fine people within USA Powerlifting and the USAPL - Pennsylvania organization -- Thank you again for your assistance and support in making this championship the success again this year - I am deeply grateful to each of you, and could not have done it without each person taking the time to step forward and volunteer for this event. On a final note, I would like to take this opportunity and wish everyone the very best of luck in their endeavors during 2006, and I look forward to seeing you next December in Palm Springs!
Kind and sincere regards,
2005 USAPL American Open Powerlifting Championships