• 2002 Ohio Valley Strongman, Athens, OH
DNF (Withdrew Due To Injury)
• 2003 Minnesota State Strongman, St. Cloud, MN
11th in Heavyweight Amateur
• 2003 Lumberjack Days Strongman, Stillwater, MN
6th in Heavyweight Amateur
• 2003 Wisconsin Strongest Man Championships, New London, WI
3rd in Heavyweight Amateur
On Saturday, August 16, 2003, I finished in third place in the Amateur Heavyweight Class at the Northeast Wisconsin Strongman Challange. I earned a $100 check for my efforts.
Overall, I was very pleased with my performance. I won two of the six events: the Silver Dollar Deadlift (810lbs -- tried 900lbs just for the heck of it, even though I didn't need it to win, but missed) and the Hercules Hold (4.7 seconds holding the weight of two cars). I also tied for 1st in the Incline Log Press (15 reps at 250lbs).
I wanted to finish in the top two, which would have qualified me for the 2003 National Amateur Strongman Society National Championships but I came up a little short.
• 2003 Xenia Old Fashion Strength Challenge, Xenia, OH
2nd In Heavyweight Amateur
On Saturday, September 14, 2003, I earned my highest finish yet, taking second place in the Amateur Heavyweight Class at the Xenia Old Fashion Strongman Challange in Xenia, OH.
I won the first event, the 18" deadlift, and finished second in the 250 lb. farmer's walk for distance. Unfortunately I experienced a set back in the next event, the stones. I re-aggravated a previous bicep tear, which negatively affected my performance in both the stones and the following the event, the maximum log press.
Even though I finished toward the bottom in the stones and log, I did come back to win the last event, a 500 lb. deadlift hold for time with a 2" bar.
Second place was my highest finish yet, and I was very close to the first place competitor. I have to admit, I was dissapointed not to win. If I had won, it would have qualified me for the 2003 North American Strongman Society National Championships but I came up a little short again.
Now with my bicep injury I plan on taking a little time off from heavy training, hopefully allowing my bicep to completely heal, and then I am going to get after it for the 2004 season.
• 2003 Monsters Of The Midwest, St. Louis, MO
12th In Open Amateur
Well, another strongman competition is in the books. On December 6 in St. Louis, MO I competed in The Monsters Of The Midwest. Next to the North American Strongman Society (N.A.S.S.) National Championships, the level of competition at this event was about as good as it gets in the amateur ranks.
The five events at the contest were:
1) 800 lb. Super Yoke, 50 ft. (1 set down), 2) Max Log Clean & Press (3 attempts), 3) 280 lb. Farmer's Walk, 80 ft., 1 turn (no set downs), 4) Stones, 220, 240, 260, 300, 330, and 360 lbs. (all 44" platforms), & 5) 500 lb. Deadlift for reps (60 sec. time limit)
The highlights for me were the stones and the deadlift. I completed five of the six stones, which is pretty good considering I had never before put up even one stone in competition. I tied for first in the deadlift with two other guys with eighteen reps.
• 2004 Snowman Strength Challenge, Urbana, IL
14th In Open (Pro & Amateur together)
On Saturday, January 17th, 2004, I competed in the Snowman Strongman Challenge in Urbana, IL. This competition was a little different than others, in that both professional and amateur strongmen competed together in the same class.
Some of the best professional strongmen in the United States were there, including former World's Strongest Man Competitors Brian Schoonveld and Don Pope. Other top pros included Brett Latta, Shawm Smith, Bryan Neese and John Beaty (the contest organizer). Sam McMahon made his pro debut and finished a very impressive 5th place.
There were also some very solid amateur competitors, including my training partner Dave Ostlund and the Nowack brothers, Kevin and Kirk. Dave finished an outstanding 6th place overall and Kirk came in 7th. All told there were 28 tough and seasoned competitors in attendance -- 8 professionals and 20 amateurs.
I finished in 14th place, with the highlight of my day being tieing for 1st place in the Bavarian Deadlift with three-time World's Strongest Man competitor Brian Schoonveld, with a lift of 800 lbs.
Brian made his last attempt first, barely squeezing out the 800 lb. lift, so I knew I had to compelete my last attempt, also at 800 lbs., in order to tie him for first. When I finally locked out the attempt, the crowd went nuts. It was topped off by powerlifting great, Ed Coan, coming up to me afterwards to say "good job". When Ed Coan says good job, now that is cool!
• 2004 X-TREME Strongman Showdown, Wilmington, MA
9th In Heavyweight Amateur
On Saturday, February 7th, 2004, I competed in The X-Treme Strongman Showdown in Wilmington, MA.
This was a Platinum Plus event, the highest competition level for the North American Strongman Society. It was also a Pro-Am, so I got to see some of the top American Pros in action, including the professional winner of the event, Phil Pfister.
I was disappointed with my placing of 9th in the heavyweight amateurs, but there were some personal highlights.
The first event was the Squat for reps. The heavyweight amateurs did 575 lbs. for 60 seconds, but this weight was too light. It came down to who timed the up and down commands of the judge the best, as most of us just ran out of time. I did 20 reps easily, which tied me for second place, and I had one rep taken away for not waiting long enough for the up command. When the 60 seconds was up I felt like I could have done 10 more reps easily, if given the time. The winner, Van Hatfield, did 21 reps, so it was a bit frustrating. The heavyweight amateurs should have used the same weight as the Pros (I think they did around 650 lbs.). It would have been fun to go head-to-head with the Pros on this event as I felt really strong in the squat that day.
The next event was the the Farmer's Walk. It was pretty heavy, over 300 lbs., and it was for distance (or time if you completed the 200 ft. course). One of my strong points is my grip, so although I am not very fast on this event, I thought I could just march along and eventualy finish the entire 200 feet. Unfortunately, it slipped out of my hands around 120 feet, so I finished around the middle of the pack on this event. Only two guys finished the entire 200 feet.
Next was the Medley. The course consisted of a big fingal finger (575 lbs.), 3 flips with a 900 lb. tire and then pushing a big truck to the finish line. Going in I was worried about the fingal finger, as I had never done it before this competiton, but it proved not to be that bad as I got it over relatively easy. The problem was the tire. I just couldn't get a grip on it. Try as I might I couldn't get my hands underneath it. I was disgusted with myself, as I have flipped much heavier tires before. The end result was finishing toward the bottom on this event.
Things continued to be tough for me with the next event, the Conan's Wheel. To date, I am not good at this event. I just haven't figured it out yet. This wheel was heavy, like 650 lbs., and I only moved it a short distance and finished toward the bottom of this event also.
I took out my frustration on the next event, the Hercules Hold. A pair of Mini Coopers were trying to pull our arms off, but I held on for over 26 seconds and won the event. Interestingly, the Pros did exactly the same weight in this event and only two of them bettered my time. The winner, Phil Pfister, who arguably has one of the best grips in the world, won the event with a time slightly over 33 seconds. It would have been interesting to get to go after Phil in this event. If I would have known what I had to do to win, I feel I may have been able to hold on the extra 7 seconds, but I was very pleased with being the best heavyweight amateur in this event.
Last was the stones. I have definitely improved on this event, but I am best at doing heavy stones to low platforms. I struggle with the lighter stones to higher platforms and the first platform at this contest was pretty high. It is very frustrating to not get up the first stone. But, it doesn't matter how heavy a stone you can lift to a low platform, if you can't even lift the first light stone to a high platform. By not getting up the first stone, I finished toward the bottom in this event and it was a very disappointing way to finish.
After the emotions settled down and I was able to reflect, I realized it wasn't a total loss. I did win one event, and I did really well in the squat. I didn't get injured and, most importantly, I tried as hard as I could. That's what it's really all about, isn't it? Giving it everything you've got and enjoying the journey instead of the reward.
• 2004 Outback Strongman Challenge, Xenia OH
2nd in Superheavyweight Amateur
On Saturday, May 1, 2004 I competed in the Outback Strongman Challenge in Xenia, OH.
This competition was a little different than others in that the competitors were broken up into more than two weight classes. Usually the open amateur competitors are divided into lightweights (under 231 pounds) and heavyweights (231 pounds and over). In this competition there were six weight classes: under 175, 200-230, 231-265, 265-300 and finally my weight class, the super heavyweights, 301 pounds and up. I weighed in at 318 pounds on my 6'2" frame.
There were seven other competitors in my weight class. Since this was a North American Strongman Society (NASS) gold level contest, the eight of us would be competing for two qualifying spots into The NASS National Championships which take place later in the year.
I came to this contest with the goal of qualifying for Nationals. Going in I thought most of the events were well suited for me and I thought I had a great chance to do well and qualify.
Each competitor got three attempts to put up a maximum weight. The Willie Wessels Rule (Willie is the President of NASS) was in effect: If you miss any of your attempts, even if it is your first or second attempt, you are done at that point and are credited with the amount of weight you did on the previous attempt.
There is definitely some strategy involved here. What you decide to open with and how much weight you jump up on each attempt is very important. Ideally, you want to win the competition, but you only want to have to lift slightly more than the second place finisher, in order to save energy for later events.
I felt really good in warmups, but after seeing what my fellow competitors were opening with, I decided to be conservative and opened with 295 lbs., which went up easily. Then I jumped to 315 lbs., which also was very smooth. At this point, after analyzing what the other guys were doing, I guessed that 335 lbs. was going to win the competition. That is the weight I asked for on my last attempt and I got it relativily easily. I was probably good for 350 to 360 lbs. if I would have needed it. I didn't and I won the competition.
I was off to a good start. Next was one of my best events, the 18" deadlift. This is basically the same as a normal deadlift, except the bar starts at 18" off the ground, which is slightly higher than normal, so you can do more weight than in a regular deadlift attempt. This event was also for a maxmimum lift, with three attempts and the Wessels Rule.
I felt really strong, as I had in the overhead lift, and I easily ran through my three attempts of 710 lbs., 770 lbs. and 810 lbs. I was probably good for over 900 lbs. if I thought I would have needed it, but I fiqured 810 lbs. would win it. I was wrong. This time my strategic moves failed, as one of my competitors pulled out an impressive 855 lb. lift, that I really didn't think he was going to get, and since I didn't have any attempts left, I would have to settle for second place, even though I knew I could have lifted much more.
Oh well, first and second place is a great start for the first two events. I shrugged off the disappointment of not winning the 18" deadlift and moved onto one of my least favorite events, the Conan's wheel.
Here the competitors lift a bar, weighted with 550 lbs., up into their arms and walk around a circle, as fast as they can, covering as much ground as possible. The winner is the one who gets the farthest.
In training and in previous competitions I have really struggled with this event. I have a lot of trouble breathing when I do this and many times it feels like I am going to black out as I make my attempt to complete the event. Basically, I hadn't been getting very far.
But the past doesn't equal the future! I pushed out the negative thoughts of the past, psyched myself up as much as possible, and just went for it. This time I blocked out the fear of blacking out and just kept going. This was my best attempt ever with the Conan's wheel, as I went over 58'. This earned me fourth place and if I would have gone only 4' further, I would have gotten second, so I was really pleased with my performance. With that said, I still hate the Conan's wheel!
The next event was a strongman favorite, the Atlas Stones. Each competitor lifts a series of stones onto a platform. Usually the platforms start out high and then descend as the weight of the stones increases. In this competition all the platforms were at a relatively low 36". Going in, I thought this would be an advantage to me as in the past, I have done well with heavy stones to low platforms, but I have struggled somewhat with the lighter stones to higher platforms.
It turned out not to matter. Just as they were getting ready for my weight class, it started to pour rain.
After everyone was forced to escape the onslaught of water by gathering inside the gymnasium of the neighborhood YMCA, it was announced that the competition was being stopped and all competitors would be judged on the results they had acheived to that point. So, all the weight classes, except mine, completed four events and the super heavyweights completed only three events.
My first, second and fourth place finish in the three events I competed in was enough to earn me second place in my weight class and qualifed me for the NASS National Championships.
That is what I had set out to do and that is what I got done, so everything else (not winning the deadlift, not getting to finish the competition, the rain, etc.) didn't matter. I was very pleased.
• 2004 NASS Team Strongman Championship, Watseka, IL
3rd In Amateur
On Saturday, May 29, 2004 I competed in the North American Strongman Society 2004 TEAM STRONGMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS in Watseka, IL. This competition was different from others, in that it was a TEAM competition, where a lightweight (under 231 lbs.) and a heavyweight (231 lbs to infinity) compete together to earn one team score.
Since I thought it would be "a little tough" to drop 85 lbs. in about 3 weeks, I decided to let one of my training partners, Jeff Peterson, be the lightweight. Jeff is one of the best lightweight competitors in the nation and going in I was a little nervous about letting him down if I didn't perform well.
Other competitors were Jason Adaminski and Dave Ostlund, also training partners, who dominated the competition. Jason is also one of the best lightweight strongmen in the nation and Dave is going to be pro soon, so going in they were the team to beat.
Jason and Dave won every single event! No one even tied them for 1st in one event! Total domintation! Great job guys. Jeff and I also did well. We took 3rd place out of 5 teams. We did tie for 2nd place, but we lost the tiebreaker.
The first event was a fire truck pull with a harness. Once we were strapped in, Jeff and I huffed and puffed as we pulled the fire truck down the course. But we made it and as soon as it was over we scrambled to get ready for the next event.
With only 5 teams, things moved fast! There was not much rest between events. I think this had something to do with Two-Time World's Strongest Man Competitior Brian Schooveld, one of the judges, who let everyone know that he wanted to keep things moving. Who is going to argue with him? The guy is a monster.
The next event was the log press for reps. We had to clean and press every rep. Both Jeff and I did 6 reps, for a total of 12, within the 90-second time limit. Jason and Dave won this event with 14 reps. Jason did 8 and Dave did 6. Jason can press!
Next we did an arm over arm pull. As we pulled the same fire truck we used in the 1st event, down the course toward us, it became obvious that this was going to be the toughest event. Most teams couldn't even complete the course in the 90-second time limit, except Jason and Dave of course, but everyone gave it their all and it was just a bitch of an event!
Did I mention that it was really hot! So, combined with moving so quickly, the heat was becoming a factor.
Next was the Farmer's Walk. Jeff hauled the 280 lbs. down the course very quickly. I was slower, but I didn't drop it and we finished decent.
The final event was a keg load/sled drag medley. First I loaded two kegs into the back of a truck. Then I tagged Jeff who pulled a sled 90 feet. Then Jeff tagged me and I pulled the sled back 90 feet and then I tagged him and he loaded two kegs. Got it? Sounds complicated, but it wasn't.
All in all it was a fun trip.
• 2004 NASS National Championships, Atlanta, GA
DNF (Withdrew Due To Injury)
While training for the 2004 Amateur National Strongman Championships, held in Atlanta, GA on October 9,10 & 11, I ran into a few road blocks, namely four bulging vertabrae in my lower back and a small tear in my left quad.
I had put a lot of work into qualifying for this event, which I did back in May and I really wanted to compete. The chance to compete in a field of over 40 of the best amateur heavyweight strongmen in the nation was too good to pass up.
Needless to say my back injury had put a major crimp in my training, but I still felt like I could get back into shape and be able to compete.
On October 8, 9 and 10 I did just that. I competed in the North American Strongman Society Heavyweight National Championships in Atlanta. It was held in conjunction with the GNC Show of Strength, a huge strength, bodybuilding, and fitness expo.
Although I did not perform as well as I had hoped, (I had to pull out of the competition, due to my back injury, after 2 of the 3 days, finishing 3 of 5 events.), I was proud of the fact that I was at least able to compete and give it a try.
Before I had to pull out of the competition, I even squatted and dead lifted a truck!