The Teen, Women's, and Master's NASS nationals, along with Open men's weight classes, took place July 31 st in Kansas City , Missouri . The event venue was spectacular with 35,000 square feet of air-conditioned bliss and plenty of seating for the many spectators that came to cheer for their favorite athletes. Willie and Dione Wessels along with Pro's Jesse Marunde and Geoff Dolan were on hand to give their expert aid to promoter Scott Tully who, with 61 competitors, hosted the largest Teen, Women's and Master's nationals ever.
Log Press Medley
The action packed Saturday started on the log press medley where contests lifted four different, increasingly heavier, giant steel logs in succession. The winner being the person who lifted and pressed all four logs in the fastest time. Because this event was HEAVY, times were taken on each successful log lift to decide placings for those that attempted, but failed to lift and press, all four logs. In the LW Teen class Dave Widell lifted three logs in 21 seconds to take 3 rd , Michael Rowgowski made three logs as well in 18 seconds for a solid 2 nd place, and Andrew Simons was the only lightweight to elevate all 4 logs to ensure victory. In the HW Teen's Gabe Salinas jammed all four logs up in 39 seconds but was only able to capture 3 rd place, Treston Shull grabbed 2 nd place just edging out Salinas by one second, and Aaron Sickbert managed all four logs in a blazing 28 seconds for 1st! In the LW Women's class, tall and slim Machell Collier placed 3 rd lifting 3 logs while defending champion Callie Marunde beat Jenny Stevens' time of 30.9 on four logs by more than 10 seconds. The HW Women's class boasted the fastest times of the day. I knew there was going to be some fast times when first to lift, Kara Mann, pressed all four logs in 18.65 seconds to barely grab 3 rd place from 4 th place Brook Bourg. Amanda Dolan, wife of Pro Strongman Geoff Dolan, took 2 nd place with four technically perfect presses in 16.78 seconds. But it was the 2003 World's Strongest Women competitor Liane Blyn who would nail the win with an incredible time of 16.28 seconds. The LW Master's class was the largest group of the day and all 19 veteran strongmen showed up ready to do battle. John "Sarge" Allen, who broke his back in two places this year when he got hit by a drunk driver, placed third by pressing 3 logs in 19.72 seconds and was confident as he lifted the 240lb fourth log. A sudden injury stopped him from attempting the press and he walked off with a large lump protruding from the middle of his back. Dave Laing bested Sarge's time by a full second to get 2 nd place and Joe Brausch won the event with a time on three logs of 16.1 seconds and came very close on an unnecessary attempt at the fourth log. In HW Master's class Todd Shook got two logs up for 3 rd place, big Wayne Eilermann got 2 nd place with 23.78 seconds on three logs, but it was Bud Schweider who would win the event with a three log lift in 22.9 seconds. In the 200lb Open class Lon Beffort took 3 rd , Seth Allison 2 nd , and Stephan Slauson won with only two logs successfully lifted. Eric Todd dominated the log press in the 231lb Open class being the only lifter to get all four logs. The weights got really heavy for the 265lb Open class with the winner, Cevenka Jindrich, only lifting 2 logs. The SHW Open included training partners and future Pro hopefuls Josh Thigpen and Travis "Stoneman" Ortmayer. Ortmayer placed 3 rd lifting three logs and James Sutteer placed 2 nd with a 4 log lift in a grueling 57.8 seconds. Thigpen, who doesn't appear to have a presser's physique, proved why he might be the next NASS athlete to earn his pro card as he crushed the 260lb fourth log in just 35 seconds.
The second event of the day was the farmers walk . Competitors raced down the length of the course where they turned and came back to the finish line with giant weights held in each hand like suitcases. LW Teen Andrew Simons pulverized his competition by completing the full 120 foot course in a blistering time of 18.57 seconds which was 30 seconds faster than 2 nd place Dave Widell. Aaron Sickbert, Trent Nelson, and Robert Bulecheck had a close race in the HW Teen's but Sickbert was able to land a 1 st place finish in 18.19 seconds. The LW Women's class was extremely competitive with all athletes finishing in fewer than 22 seconds. It was Callie Marunde, coached by her Husband and Pro, Jesse Marunde , who would come away with a 4 seconds win over Machell Collier's 2 nd place time of 20.66 seconds. Kara Mann, who many believe to be the best farmers walker in the nation on the women's side, breezed through the course in 17.32 seconds to win the HW Women's class. The only other competitor to finish the course was Amy Wattles who impressed all with a time of 25.34. The huge LW Master's class was packed full of impressive attempts and the only stand out finish was by Joe Brausch who won his second event with an untouchable time of 19.5 seconds. In the HW Master's class Wayne Eilermann bested Bud Schweider to win in a fast time of 19.68 seconds. 200lb Open Stephen Slauson won his second event of the day with a time of 25.8 seconds. 231lb Open Joe Costello was one of only two to cross the finish line as he beat Eric Todd by 7 seconds. 265lb Open was owned by Joe Miller where he was the lone competitor to make the full distance. SHW Open had a close race between Josh Thigpen and Adrian Panko but it would be Travis Ortmayer who edge them both out to grab the win in 46.7 seconds.
In the Conan's Wheel event competitors lifted the end of a weighted steel bar that was fixed on the opposite end to a pivot, and carried it in a circle for maximum distance. LW Teen Andrew Simons smoked his third event win with a distance of 327ft. The HW Teen victory went to Aaron Sickbert who walked away with a completed distance of 275ft. After Shayna Fitgerald posted a staggering distance of 455ft in the LW Women's class no one thought she could be beat. Then, right after Fitgerald, Machell Collier went an unreal 507ft! But Callie Marunde proved that she has the perfect balance of power and endurance as she marched 522ft before dropping the weight and claiming her third event win. Kara Mann and Liane Blyn both more than doubled the distance of the other competitors in the HW Women's class. Kara mustered the stamina to beat Liane's 305ft with an impressive 320ft. Sarge, who placed 2 nd in the LW Master's Conan's wheel after collapsing on the ground at 288ft later said that Joe Brausch's winning distance of 300ft was Joe's most notable performance of the day. Wayne Eilermann secured his second event win in the HW Master's class when he strolled around the wheel 150ft with a massive 650lb load. 180ft was enough for Stephan Slauson to win his second event in the 200lb Open class. Though they tried, no one came close to Eric Todd's 230ft distance in the 231lb Open class. In the 265lb Open class Cevenka Jindrich was the only athlete to make one full revolution as he won his second event. Josh Thigpen ruled the Conan's wheel with a distance nearly 100ft further than 2 nd place Travis Ortmayer's 164ft and left no doubt in anyone's mind that he could challenge any professional in this event.
Yoke, Duck-Walk, and Drag Medley
The fourth and final preliminary event of the day was the Medley . Competitors carried a Yoke on their backs 50 feet, then carried a lead weight between their legs 50 feet in the Duck-Walk , then they pulled a Drag sled backwards for 50 feet. As anticipated, Andrew Simons won another event in the LW Teen's with a time of 45.3 seconds. Trent Nelson got his first event win in the HW Teen class with a time of 31.4 seconds with Aaron Sickbert a close 2 nd with a time of 35 seconds. The LW Women's class was incredibly fast with 3 rd place Jenny Stevens failing to beat Callie Marunde's time of 26.6 seconds which was less than one half of a second slower than Machell Collier's time. Collier, who looks more like a runner than a strength athlete, showed her hidden power in her most impressive performance of the day. In the HW Women's class the adorable Kara Mann again showed everybody that she cant be touched on speed/endurance events as she captured her third event win. Barney Bolt snuck up from behind in the LW Master's class to win in a super fast time of 26.6 seconds. First through tenth place were only separated by 3 seconds in the LW Master's Medley, which proved to be the most competitive event of the entire day. The HW Master's Medley was another close race with Wayne Eilermann again coming out on top with a time of 32 seconds. Stephan Slauson kept the ball rolling in the 200lb Open class as he won his fourth event with a time of 30.9 seconds. 231lb Open competitor, Eric Todd, stole the show as he won his third event in a time of 29 seconds. John O'Brien posted a time of 37.7 seconds in the 265lb Open class that could not be beat. It was Adrian Panko who would beat 2 nd and 3 rd place finishers Travis Ortmayer and Josh Thigpen in the SHW Open class to take his first event win.
Final Event: Stone Load
The final event of the day, and everyone's favorite, was the Stone loading competition. Athlete attempted to load 5 spherical stones of increasing weight onto a 48" platform in the fastest time. In the LW Teen class Andrew Simons was beat for the first time that day by Dave Widell who lifted 4 stones in just 29.5 seconds. Widell's time was 30 seconds faster than Simons' 2 nd place finish! But Simons was able to hang onto the overall win and capture the title of NASS national champion. Aaron Sickbert had such a lead going into the final event of the HW Teen class that he still would have won even if he had placed last on the stones, but like a true national champion he won by loading 4 in 24.5 seconds. Blonde bombshell, Callie Marunde had her lowest placing of the day in the LW Women's class with a 3 rd place finish that was 8 seconds behind Machell Collier, who was only 2 seconds behind winner Shelby McCool. The audience was shocked when "Cool" McCool blasted 4 stones onto the platform in 21 seconds. Marunde was able to edge out second place Collier by 3 points in the overall to claim her second national championship. Liane Blyn loaded 5 stones but was not able to catch the technically faultless Amanda Dolan who stood out in the HW Women's class as she beat 2 nd place Kara Mann by almost 10 seconds. Mann loaded the final, 220lb stone with great effort to take home the overall win and her first, of what could be many, national championships. Dave Laing flattened the competition in the LW Master's class as he loaded all 5 stone in a startling 16.9 seconds, which was faster than 3 rd place finisher James McGlynn's time on 4 stones! It was last years HW champion, Joe Brausch, who placed 2 nd in the stones and laid claim to the title of NASS national champion. In the HW Master's division Marty Eliot was the only athlete to load all 5 stones as he came on strong to win his first event. Wayne Eilermann only needed to load 4 stones for 2 nd place, which he did in just 13.8 seconds, to win the HW NASS national championships. Stephen Slauson went untouched as he won the stones and every other event to dominate the 200lb Open class and grab his NASS national championship title. In the 231lb Open class Eric Todd led the field in overall points by 11, making him impossible to beat going into the last event. Todd again snatched an event win and the overall championship he knew was coming. In the 265lb Open class Joe Miller needed to win the stones with Cevelka Jindrich coming in 3 rd for him to win overall. Although Miller did pull a 1 st place finish in the stone it was not enough to beat Jindrich who placed 2 nd and took the national championship by just one point. SHW Open competitors Travis Ortmayer and Josh Thigpen, who battle each other every day at their training center, placed 1 st and 2 nd respectively. Ortmayer, who is without a doubt the best NASS stonelifter in the country, went for the record but was not awarded it because one of the stones broke. Ortmayer's win on the stone event placed him in a tie in the overall points with Thigpen who would win the tiebreaker by virtue of lighter bodyweight. Look for NASS national champion Travis Thigpen and 2 nd place Travis Ortmayer to accomplish great things in the sport of strongman. These are two guys you definitely want to keep an eye on.