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Fri Nov 06 2015 07:33 PM A Viking Halloween 2015 by Kozbee

October 31st is the one day of the year when we see thousands of children dress in funny costumes in order to run around their neighborhoods in search of candy. We call this day Halloween, and it is an annual tradition dating back many years. A new tradition has surfaced on the day following Halloween in which adults dress in funny costumes, and run around the gym in search of heavy things to lift. We call this day,” A Viking Halloween”
At a “normal” strongman/strongwoman competition you’ll see competitors chalking their hands, tightening their weight belts, and wrapping their wrists. At A Viking Halloween, we see athletes applying face paint, putting on masks, and lacing up their mermaid costumes before approaching giant pumpkin stones, defiant cadavers/sandbags, and specially weighted “skulls”. It creates a truly unique atmosphere, and one that is unanimously considered fun. When you strip away the trophies, the Nationals invites, and the bragging rights, “fun” is why we do this crazy stuff anyway. After all, getting together with like-minded folks and picking up heavy objects is just plain fun… to us at least!
Apparently fun is the key to PRs as well, because the personal bests were flowing like blood in a horror movie during our Dawn of the Deadlift event. In our Lightweight Women’s Novice class, Ariel Buric was making her strongwoman debut, and faced 3 loaded bars, each one heavier than the last. Lifts on a heavier bar trumped any lifts on a lighter bar, and the heaviest bar was loaded to 275lbs, which was more than Ariel’s recent personal record in the gym. “Superstar!” and super athlete Heather Rider had landed a rep on the heaviest bar, and Ariel followed suit by pulling the big weight for a 15lb PR. Both ladies then fired off double digit reps on the medium bar at 185. Ariel edged out the win here with an amazing performance, and got us started off to what would be a terrific deadlifting event.
Our Middleweight Women’s Novice class could have been called the women’s pro class, because they both lifted like seasoned veterans. Wendi Wentzell-Cuc had competed just 24hrs prior at our buddy Chris Vachio’s Nightmares of Strength event, but this didn’t stop her from posting 7 reps on the 225lb bar. This cued the bat signal, and Bat Girl herself Sarah Ott leaped into action nailing a big lift with the heaviest bar at 315lbs, and then repped on the medium bar for good measure.
Speaking of big lifts, what do you do when you face a weight in contest that is roughly equal to your current personal record? Well if you’re a mighty shield maiden like Crystal Anney, you pick it… again, and again, and again. Crystal took a weight roughly equal to her most recent max deadlift, and proceeded to complete 6 full lifts with it (225lbs!)! The PR train had left the station and couldn’t be stopped now, and former state champion Tina Griffith was the next passenger. Tina stepped up to the heaviest bar loaded to a whopping 365lbs (no typo), and pulled one of the grittiest, gutsiest, grinders of a deadlift I have ever seen. Witnesses claim that her soul actually left her body mid-rep and returned after the event. Tina locked out the massive weight, beating her all-time personal best by a whopping 45lbs. Unfortunately for Tina, she dropped the bar upon completion (likely due to the euphoric state her mind had certainly achieved), and the rep was declined. This left the door open for our friendly neighborhood spider woman Katie O’Connor to attempt the heavy bar. 365 would be in the ballpark of a 40lb PR for her as well, but she knew if she could nail the lift, she would secure the win. Katie stepped up to the bar, sunk down low and drove up with all her might. When the smoke cleared, Katie was standing with the weight, a good lift indeed.
Our Men’s 175lb class was our biggest class at this meet, which had never happened before in the state. Buddy Guthrie, Jared Garvin, and first timer Ken Willis all had success on the lighter bars, but had not managed a rep on the heaviest bar. Enter the wolfman Nate Elmond. Nate was making his strongman debut here, but if there’s one thing Nate knows, it’s deadlifts! Like a true veteran Nate hauled up the 455lb bar for a single rep, and then walked away knowing he had done enough to win the event. Doug Prickett in the masters class made a technical error here, pulling on the lighter bar and then attempting to go backwards and move to the heavier bars; this was not allowed. Mike Brooks took advantage well by repping out on the medium weight bar, and started off his campaign with a win.
Nate’s training partner the Rev. Matt Holbert used similar strategy in the Men’s 231 class. After Derek “the Macho Man” Girven and Kenny “the Kenion Minion” Hacker both passed on even attempting the heaviest bar, Holbert knew what he must do, and he did it. One rep on the 550lb bar locked up the event, and then we loaded the heaviest bar to a whopping 600lbs. Mr. Incredible, passing himself off as John Shaffer, recently set a PR at 625 in training, so the big question was, could he manage two reps at 600, because we knew that Count Ryan Putzulu was a legit threat to pull at least one. Well big John summoned every super power in his body and pulled 4 full reps at 600lbs, and nearly got credited with the 5th but the bar came out of his hands on the way down. Last year’s heavyweight winner Ryan Putzulu played a little strategy here, pulled one rep on the lightest bar, and chose to conserve his power for the next event. Would this move pay off? Keep reading and find out!
If 600lb deadlifts aren’t heavy enough for you, then perhaps our second event is. We called this event the Bring Out Your Dead cadaver and wheelbarrow medley. Our “cadavers” were enormous sandbags of absolutely insane difficulty, and they had to be loaded into the gigantic wheelbarrow, which is really a road legal trailer with special attachments for lifting. How difficult was this event? Just how heavy could it be? Was it really worse than the deadlift event??? Statistic: only two competitors out of every class, every division, finished the course. Again, no typo here, that’s two competitors out of everyone that finished the entire course. Every inch of this event was torture!
Heather Rider made her way through the first two sandbags impressively, then burned a lot of energy wrestling the third into the barrow. This sapped some strength for the wheel barrow carry, and she tapped out at just over 10ft on the 40ft course. Ariel was on pace to match Heather’s performance, but the third sandbag at 125lbs was just too awkward for her to maneuver. Wendi and Sarah both managed to load two sandbags, er, I mean bodies, into the barrow, but were stumped by the third bag at 140lbs. Tina Griffith took top honors in the ladies’ middleweight, being the first person to actually finish the course! Katie was only 20ft from finishing, and Crystal struggled against the ghoulish awkwardness of the sandbags.
The Men’s 175 class struggled with their sandbags as the weights ballooned to 165, 180, and 200lbs. Three of our four 175’s took over 10sec to load the first bag. The second bag proved too much for Buddy Guthrie to get comfortable with, and the remaining three all struggled mightily with the third bag to no avail. Jared Garvin was the fastest to two bags, and his stellar wrestling background paid dividends here. Our Men’s Middleweight Masters competitors put on a tremendous show here, as Mike Brooks powered all 3 sandbags into the barrow, and muscled the barrow nearly 14ft down the course. The hangman himself Doug Prickett had to step up huge here, and he delivered. Doug loaded all the bags and then carried the loaded barrow all the way down the 40ft course. What an impressive feat of strength!
At 231, Derek Girven drooped a flying elbow on this event and loaded all three bags and even managed a few feet with the wheelbarrow. Kenny Hacker proved why he is the reigning state champion by loading the bags and hauling the mammoth barrow over halfway down the course; this was an incredible display. The good Reverend suffered here, as he experienced mishap after mishap with the second bag, and never got it loaded. This was a crucial error for the Rev, who still had his best and worst events yet to come. At heavyweight, Ryan Putzlulu bested John Shaffer here by nearly completing the entire course, but big “Pooch” also injured his wrist badly on this event while wrestling a 280lb sandbag.
Our third event, the Chattering Skull Front Hold, featured kettlebells dressed a skulls held out in front of the body with arms straight for time. Every one of our 7 ladies (seven is GREAT btw) made it to around the one minute mark in this event. Those that have done this before know just how painful this event becomes once you’ve been holding the weight that long! Trooper Griffith actually crossed over a minute thirty, and Crystal Anney had the second longest time of anyone with 1:09. Well done!
At 175 the men’s weight skyrocketed to 45lbs, and this weight humbled the mighty Ken Willis and his magnificent hair within 10 seconds. Garvin doubled that time, Guthrie tripled it, but it was Nate that posted the winning time of 36sec at middleweight. Doug Prickett suffered through 27sec in order to beat Mike Brooks. At 231, Matt Holbert took the win at just under a minute! At heavyweight, wounded beast Ryan Putzulu still managed to break 30sec with a lot of support from the crowd. The setup here involved 45lb barbells set to appropriate height on a rack, and the lifters had to keep their wrists in contact with the bar. John Shaffer went absolutely nuts on this event and actually knocked the barbell off the rack on his first go! We reinforced the bar and let John have another go, where he hit 52sec.
Going from painful to exhausting, our next stop on this tour of madness was the Drag Me to Hell chain medley. Heather was up first and she dragged the 170, 170, and 350lb chains down the course in under 50sec. Ariel paid the price for a questionable footwear choice and ran out of time before finishing the final chain. Wendi and Sarah were neck and neck here, and the weights climbed to 170, 350, and 350. Sarah Ott left it all on the field (parking lot?) and managed to pull the final chain nearly 5ft. Wendi had called upon the power of gray skull with her super She-Ra powers and posted 16ft on the final chain for the win. Middleweight women had to contend with three 350lb chains! Crystal, who stepped up from lightweight and chose to compete with the middleweights, and was excruciatingly close to finishing the course on her turn. It takes a lot of guts to compete at all, and it takes even more to do so in a weight class above! Tina smoked the course in 45sec, which we all figured would be good enough for the win. Katie had different plans though, and finished in 44sec! This shook up the scoring and put Katie back in contention heading into the last event.
Ken Willis smoked his first two chains at 350lbs, but the daunting 500lb chain stopped him halfway down the course. Buddy Guthrie leaned back and pumped his feet for everything he was worth and bested mighty Nate Elmond by 1sec, showing off that farm boy muscle in doing so. Jared “Mouse” Garvin staked his claim as king of the chains however when he drove through the course like a supped up Mustang, finishing in an astonishing 32sec! The masters men had to face two 500lb chains in addition to a 350, and both Mike and Doug met the challenge. The quads, hands, traps, and low back were all on fire, but both men finished in under a minute.
Derek “Macho Man” Girven set his championship belt aside and locked horns with chains weighing 500, 500, and a humongous 700lbs. Derek finished the course at 1:01, and looked like he had just been through a steel cage match afterwards. Kenny Hacker looked like a big yellow blur as he moved from chain to chain, finally slowing down when he hit the 700. At 44sec, he set an incredible time to beat, and this was the Reverend’s traditional bogey event. The last three times Matt Holbert had faced the giant chain drag, he had been defeated, and it cost him serious points in those contests. This time enough was enough and big Matt trained heavy drags over, and over, and over again for months. Did the preparation payoff? The answer is a resounding YES! Matt finished the course and in a rare display of elation the Rev let out a mighty roar of happiness. Second place in the chains put him neck and neck with Hacker going into the stones.
The Men’s HW competitors were faced with a task that none of us in attendance had ever seen in competition before. The big boys’ chain weighed 500, 700, and an unfathomable 870lbs. It was announced at 840, but the true weight of the final chain was about 870lbs, which was about 200lbs heavier than the anchor chain used at World’s Strongest Man in the 1990’s. Shaffer fought, scratched, and clawed for every inch with the monstrously heavy 870 chain, finishing with only seconds left on the clock. Putzulu, knowing that Shaffer could take his title if he didn’t dominate this event, blazed the course in 51sec. Both men were suffering the effects of the strain after this one, and the final challenged loomed in the shadows.
The final event was the Jack O’ Lantern Over Bar, ie. Atlas Stones. Four stones awaited our brave contestants, each required to be loaded over a 48in bar. Ariel and Heather had nearly identical times on the first, second, and third stones. The difference was made on the fourth, where Heather needed only 11 seconds to finish it and Ariel needed 17. This locked up the overall win for Heather.
After a long day of battle, Wendi Wentzell-Cuc and Sarah Ott met one last time. Sara was faster to the first stone at 95, but Wendi was faster to the second at 115. Both ladies hit the wall a bit on the third stone, also at 115, but Sarah got the weighty load over with 7sec left, and Wendi just couldn’t quite get that one to cooperate. Crystal Anney heaved stones weighing 115, 115, and 135lbs over the bar, only hitting resistance when she attempted the massive 150 final stone. Tina posted a solid time of 32.08, and Katie was faster heading into the final stone, but then she hit a speed bump. Katie finished in 42.43 seconds, second in her class.
Just how hard can it be to load atlas stones completely raw with no tacky? Not a single male competitor finished the course on this day! That’s how tough! Anywho, Buddy and Ken Willis both got shutdown by the third stone, while Jared and Nate both finished 3 stones, with Nate being less than 3seconds faster! Mike Brooks was battle weary after a long evening of strongman war, and managed only one of the huge stones. Doug Prickett showed that despite some injuries this past year, he still has what it takes to lift 3 stones at 175, 200, and 220, and he gave 240 a good scare.
At middleweight it all came down to this. Girven, who was the lightest man by almost 30lbs in the class, could not make up the points difference. Holbert and Hacker were separated by 1 point, so whoever won this, basically won the contest. No more than 1 sec separated their times on the first two stones, but the third stone is where Holbert pulled away, beating Hacker by 5 full seconds to lock up the division win.
The story amongst the 231’s and HWs was the now legendary pumpkin stone! It was the final stone in the series for 231’s and MWs, and no man had ever lifted it in official conditions. Weighing 292lbs and smiling at his challengers, the pumpkin stone was ready. The first man to have any success was Kenny Hacker. Hacker hefted the stone but just couldn’t quite get it over the bar before time expired. At HW, John suffered the same fate. Ryan, fully psyched and roaring like an angry gorilla grabbed it where it stood and tried to carry it over instead of rolling it over. The big guy lost his grip on the concrete gourd and was never able to recover.
Final standing were as such:
LWW Nov.
2nd Ariel Buric
1st Heather Rider
MMW Nov.
2nd Wendi Wentell-Cuc
1st Sarah Ott
MWW Open
3rd Crystal Anney
2nd Katie O’Connor
1st Tina Griffith
Men’s 175
4th Ken Willis
3rd Buddy Guthrie
2nd Jared Garvin
1st Nate Elmond
Middle Weight Masters
2nd Mike Brooks
1st Doug Prickett
Men’s 231
3rd Derek Girven
2nd Kenny hacker
1st Rev. Matt Holbert (tie on points, winner via countback)
2nd John Shaffer
1st Ryan Putzulu
There you have it folks, another zany competition in the books!
Huge thanks to our interns, volunteers, competitors, spectators, Fox’s Pizza in Pomeroy, OH, Rider Pharmacy, and Dan Ryan Builders!
It’s 4am, I’m going to sleep now! God bless and good night.

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Thu Oct 15 2015 12:06 PM New MMA committee will take a look at regulations like 12-to-6 elbows, 10-8 by Eric

Wheelock hopes to start the conversation about these things and many others. If the committee comes to a consensus, a recommendation will be made to the ABC board of directors, who will then bring the potential rule change to the entire ABC body on a yearly basis. Any change, of course, will still come down to the specific athletic commission. Mazzulli has also started a rules committee for boxing led by Arizona Boxing & MMA commission executive director Matthew Valenzuela.

"I think the recommendations made to the ABC, I think the ABC membership are smart enough to realize if it's something that's best for the sport and more safe for the fighters, I think the ABC will look at that in a very positive light," Mazzulli said.

In the interest of transparency, Wheelock has started a committee e-mail account to take suggestions from fighters, fans or anyone else who has ideas. The address is

Full Story

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Mon Sep 28 2015 12:06 PM Strongman Homecoming by Kozbee

Strongman Homecoming

The average person can stuff a whole lot of crazy into nine years, and for nearly a decade the Strongest Man/Woman in the Forest contest has been providing an annual opportunity for folks to engage in what some would call madness. Over the years competitors have bent steel bars with their bare hands, lifted giant logs over their heads, pulled enormous stones off the ground, and even towed pickup trucks with nothing but a rope and some muscle. The tradition of insanity continued this year at the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins, WV, with competitors coming from as far as Kansas City, MO to partake in the contest.

Cool but comfortable weather was welcomed by the competitors as they filed in Saturday morning, and thanks to the threat of rain remaining merely a threat, a terrific crowd gathered to check out the action. As has been the case in the last few years, we kicked off the contest with the Sandbag Toss event. Seven bags of increasing weight had to be hurled over a rope suspended 14ft in the air. Ashlyn Harlan sent four of the heavy bags flying over the rope, but was edged out by newcomer Ashley Bryant who managed 5 bags. These two ended up having quite a battle all day! Our 200lb Novice competitors Mark Harless and Austin Imler certainly did not appear to be rookies here as they both launched all seven of their bags over the rope, with Craigsville, WV’s Harless being just a few seconds faster. The bags for the middleweights and heavyweights climbed all the way up to 50lbs, and for the first time in this contest’s history, six men (three middle and three heavy) succeeded with all seven bags. Middleweight Josh Sill, a former champion at this contest, blazed the course in just 16.3 seconds, only 0.1 seconds behind the winning heavyweight time set by multi-time past champion AJ Freda.

The Giant Log Lift awaited our mighty competitors after the bag toss, and this event was nothing if not dramatic. Heavyweight state champion Valerie Walker, who earned a 10th place finish at America’s Strongest Woman only one week prior, took easy and successful lifts at 124 and 154 pounds. The 154lb lift was a state record in the log lift event, but it was merely a warm-up for what she attempted to do next. Val was not only looking to set a new record, but to completely obliterate the old record! Val took a big gamble by skipping 169lbs, and going straight to 184lbs, the most weight ever called for by a female competitor on WV soil, regardless of weight class. The ensuing battle was fierce, and Val gave the log all she had, but in the end, the log was too stubborn, and Val could not negotiate the massive load over her head.

Our male competitors faced a daunting challenge, as their assigned log was roughly double the size of the ladies’ log. This huge length of poplar is over 7ft long, well over a foot in diameter, and is still covered in bark. Yes folks, this was a real tree trunk, not a gimmick. Many of the competitors had practiced this event with log lift simulators made of steel; these are essentially big metal pipes with handles and pins to load weights on. While this method certainly aided the training of these mighty warriors, it seemed that perhaps nothing could truly prepare them for the challenge of what is now known as “The Dream Crusher Log”.

Pennsylvania powerhouse Steve Mick and North Carolina’s stout Josh Pinkerton were the first to fall victim to the Dream Crusher Log, both unable to register an opening lift in round one. Adam Knotts of Norton by way of Fairmont, WV tackled the log not once, not twice, but three times before he was able to steady the massive timber overhead, receiving credit just before his time expired. The weight continued to climb up round after round, and Baltimore’s Josh Strassner was the first to nail 253lbs on the lift. 273 proved to be just too much for all but two of our middleweights. Local hero Tyler Cosner and reigning state champ Kenny Hacker both sealed the deal with 273 for a new tandem state record, but 293 was just too much for either man with this monstrosity of a log.

Amongst the big boys, John Mouser and Dustin Patrick both missed at 273 to the surprise of everyone in attendance who had just witnessed both men conquer 253 easily; the Dream Crusher had stricken again. Elkins own gentle giant Ryan Putzulu was the last man standing to challenge state champion AJ Freda. Freda has never been defeated in the Log Lift on WV soil, and holds the record at a whopping 340lbs. On this day, AJ needed only 313pounds for the win, which he made look quite effortless. Does AJ have some sort of super power that makes him immune to the Dream Crusher Log? Perhaps the better question is who is going to step up and push this man to his limits on this on this test of brute strength?

The third hurdle for our strong men and strong women took us from extremely difficult to absolutely ridiculous. The “Fingal Finger” event has been a staple at the World’s Strongest Man contest on TV for the last 10 or 15 years. Our own humble little competition in Elkins, WV is home to one of these gigantic torture devices, and the competitors got to experience the exhausting nature of this event first hand. Ashley Bryant was able to strain through two flips with the towering 14ft metal pole, only to be outdone by a surging Ashlyn Harlan who was looking to make up points after the first two events. Ashlyn completed five full flips on the pole, only one repetition behind heavyweight Val Walker.
The battle in our Novice 200 class raged on as Austin Imler fought valiantly against the now heavier Finger, coming excruciatingly close to tipping it over, only to have it reverse direction repeatedly just when he thought he had done enough to break past the sticking point. Harless followed, and was able to put his years of powerlifting experience to good use by driving through his legs and hips to send the hundreds of pounds of steel crashing over. Harless now had the lead overall

The struggles continued at middleweight, as four of the eight in the division were only able to manage a single flip with the uncooperative and back breaking apparatus. Having missed last year’s contest due to a hip surgery, Tyler Cosner refused to join the one-and-done club, and added two flips to his scorecard. Unfortunately for Cosner, three other men had bigger plans. Josh Strassner was the first to make the Finger actually look manageable, as he charged through four flips like a stampeding bull. This would have been good enough for the win last year, but this year Morgantown, WV’s Josh Sill and state champ Kenny Hacker became the first men to ever hit five flips on this burdensome device. Sill’s time was six seconds faster than Hacker’s, giving him the event win and the new state record. Josh made up for lost points in the Log Lift here, and put himself back in position for a top finish with two of his strongest events left to go.

The heavyweight flight was just as intense, as the difficulty of the Fingal Finger was dialed up once again to the maximum setting. The task was so demanding that Washington, PA’s Dustin Patrick walked away from the apparatus shortly after having wrestled it to his shoulder. Dustin felt the tremendous pressure the implement put on his back, and decided to save his body for the last two events. Representing Mouser Strength Dynamics and Viking Performance Training, rookie John Shaffer impressed us all by using a combination of grit and brawn to score two flips. Putzulu, who has become a top tier strongman at any show he enters, upped the ante further by muscling over three reps. Eric Hickman, perhaps the world’s largest and strongest tech-guru, saw his opportunity to shine and he did not disappoint. Eric left it all on the field and registered four full flips on the Fingal Finger, which we all thought would surely be enough for the win. Lewis County’s resident volcano dweller, AJ Freda, decided to contest those thoughts. Big AJ set a new heavyweight record by manhandling the demonic apparatus five times; it clear that AJ had no intentions of losing his title as the Strongest Man in the Forest on this day.

Our penultimate event was one of the most famous and challenging strongman trials around the world: the Atlas Stones. This test requires the athletes to hoist a series of concrete balls onto 55 gallon drums. Each stone is heavier than the last, the concrete tears at the skin on the lifters’ arms, and there is no nice comfortable way to pick them up. They are round, there are no handles, and they are extremely heavy.

Ashley Bryant impressed by completing three of the five stones despite having never touched those types of stones before. Harlan had to beat this mark to tie up the score cards, and she did, managing four of the five stones. Val Walker also powered through four stones despite competing unopposed; Val wanted to test herself and put on a show for the crowd. She did both all day. Austin Imler tied the overall points between himself and Mark Harless by finishing all five stones a full 14 seconds faster. The final event would have to decide a winner between then.

All eight of the middleweight competitors finished the course, loading all five of their stones. This had never happened before, and was a testament to the quality of the class. Having a subpar day to this point, Keith Thompson blasted through the stones in 14.6 seconds, the fastest time of anyone to finish regardless of class. Shaffer and Freda completed all five of the heavyweight stones, with Putzulu and Mouser finishing four. Freda locked up the overall win here, as he now could not be caught. The battle for second would come down to Mouser and Putzulu in the Pole Push. Mouser would need a standout performance in the final event and would need Putzulu to falter.

The Pole Push has become the undisputed crowd favorite event over the last few years. Competitors must grab onto sets of handles on opposite ends of a 10ft 4x4, and try to push each other out of a 20ft circle. The fate of our middleweight ladies and novice class men came down to this last event. Harlan edged out Bryant here to secure the overall, while Harless did the same against Imler, all but guaranteeing victory. Predictably, middleweight was a dog fight through and through. Pinkerton, Mick, and Thompson struggled early here, while Strassner and Knotts were looking strong. Sill put all his chips on the table and went undefeated for the event win. All he could do now was wait and see how Hacker would fare, as the points between the two were very close going into this event. Cosner came on strong and let the world know it is not OK to be in Tyler’s circle, edging out Hacker. Hacker rallied hard and secured 3rd place in the event, but was it enough?

Finally, we had reached the main event of the afternoon. Everyone loves to see the heavyweights lock horns on the Pole Push. These men are truly giants, with some being as tall as 6’5” and weighing as much as 380lbs. Mouser saw his chance after Putzulu had fought to a draw with Hickman, and wrestled the fatigued titan out of the circle. Mouser mowed down opponent after opponent in the event, despite a badly injured ankle. On the other side of the bracket, the unstoppable Freda was doing the same. The two met in a scene like an Old West style gun fight, with additional drama because this was a rematch from two years ago… a match that Mouser had won. The two behemoths launched an all-out assault against each other, with the force threatening to splinter the lumber into pieces. What ensued sounded like a mixture between an NFL game at the line of scrimmage and a war scene from Lord of the Rings. Refusing to release his stranglehold on first place finishes, it was Freda that emerged victorious, relegating Mouser to 2nd.
Final standing were as such:

Women MW:
2nd Ashley Bryant
1st Ashlyn Harlan

Women HW:
1st Val Walker

Men’s Novice:
2nd Austin Imler
1st Mark Harless

Men MW (231):
8th Josh Pinkerton
7th Steve Mick
6th Josh Strassner
5th Adam Knotts
4th Keith Thompson
3rd Tyler Cosner
2nd Josh Sill
1st Kenny Hacker

Men HW:
6th Dustin Patrick
5th Eric Hickman
4th John Shaffer
3rd John Mouser
2nd Ryan Putzulu
1st AJ Freda

Another chapter has been written in the saga of strength that began nine years ago in little ol’ Elkins, WV. A day with weather that cooperated, a great crowd, fantastic competitors, tremendous sportsmanship, fierce competition, hard working volunteers, and zero injuries made for an absolutely amazing show. My sincere thanks to everyone that helped out to make this contest happen; thank you to our sponsor Performance Motors, thank you to the Mountain State Forest Festival; thank you to the competitors; and thank you to my loving wife that not only helps me with these events, but puts up with me spending countless hours working on these types of events. Our next stop is a Mas Wrestling tournament on Halloween in Morgantown, then our giant strongman/strongwoman Halloween bash on Sunday 11/1! The Rite of Passage contest follows on 11/21, with a ladies only training day on 11/22. After all of that madness, our ship sails into shore for powerlifting, with our annual fundraiser meet on 12/12 called “Power for a Purpose”. To see the schedule of events, please check out and

Here’s to next year when we celebrate a decade of strength, and the Forest Festival turns 80!

Happy resting

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Tue Aug 11 2015 09:57 AM Summer Raid Recap by Kozbee

For a few dozen warriors, the summer was spent sharpening their blades, readying their armor, and envisioning the spoils of victory. For the first time ever in WV, a two-day powerlifting and strongman contest was held, with special prizes in store for the mightiest of the mighty that competed on both days. This siege of Morgantown was called the Summer Raid, and it was part II of the now legendary Summer of Maxes in this year’s West Virginia strongman series. The action was intense and the battles ferocious, and the warriors involved in this melee left everything on the field of battle.
On day 1, the powerlifters took center stage and put up some terrific lifts. A few highlights include Katie O’Connor hitting a PR squat of 315. Jared Garvin looked to be good for some big squats as well, but unfortunately a hip injury on his second attempt removed him from the contest – get well soon Mouse! The Rev himself Matt Holbert hit a bodyweight PR squat of 515, competing for the first time in many years at sub-230lbs bodyweight; the 220’s are in the Rev’s future. Rounding out the squats was Spencer Farley with a lightning fast 600 raw.
In the bench press, “Mr. USPA” Johnny Layne went 3 for 3, showing masterful attempt selection and very strong pressing. Austen Vickers, calm as a gentle summer breeze, showed impressive triceps power by close gripping some enormous presses. Austen, along with Holbert and O’Connor, was slated to compete on both days, but that didn’t stop him from giving it his all on day 1. Christy started off the deadlifts and finished her day strong with a successful third attempt at 205. This was Christy’s first meet, and she did a great job selecting attempts and executing her lifts. Amongst the men, Spencer Farley showed ridiculous power in the deadlift finishing with 725lbs.
Day 2 of the Summer Raid saw a strongman/woman contest that may well go down in history as one of the toughest ever held on WV soil. The Max Axle kicked things off, and the ladies impressed early with teen lightweight Gillian Paugh launching an 85lb lift like a pro. Gillian was our first ever teen female competitor, so a huge congratulations is in order for her for being a trail blazer and being brave enough to come all the way from Ohio to compete on WV soil. Well done Gillian!
The axle madness continued into the men’s classes with rookie strongman John Shaffer punching a 243 lift on the gigantic “demon axle”, and doing so on an injured calf. The open 231 class was real log jam; all three men tied at 273 on this extremely difficult axle, with Ken Hacker taking a scary spill on the clean at 303. Luckily ol’ Kenny is a country boy made of steel and grit and he was OK. At heavyweight, big Dan Evans (and I do mean big) hit a crisp 303, but 333 was just a bit much on the 2.3 inch diameter axle. Undisputed axle master Jake Reynolds took top honors in his first trip to the HW class here, as he conquered a 333lb lift, which is the biggest ever recorded on this type of axle in WV regardless of weight class.
Our second max event of the day was our 30ft Farmers Walk. The weight went up each round and competitors had 3 attempts to carry the heaviest weight possible down the course. Stacey Marlar edged Crystal Anney by ten pounds here with 155 per hand, with these two having a great battle all afternoon. The heat and fatigue from the day before likely contributed to Rev. Matt Holbert dropping his 265 farmers half way down the course, and a similar fate befell our perennial masters competitor Doug Prickett, also at 265. Speaking of masters, Michael Brooks impressed in the farmers with 220 per hand, and showed promise for more in the near future. At HW, Reynolds dropped at 280, while Josh Strassner motored down the course with the same weight, thinking he should have saved an attempt for 300. The biggest man in the competition, Dan Evans, took 300 for a nice stroll, tying Mark Carpenter for the biggest carry of the day.
Masters female competitor Angela Messer was the first to finish the course in the vehicle pull, completing the arm over arm style pull with a Subaru Outback in just over 32seconds. A very impressive performance. The pull of the day may have belonged to middleweight Katie O’Connor, as she displayed fast hands and big pulling power as she finished the course in under 25sec. In the men’s classes, we first switched to a Dodge Ram 1500, which Buddy Guthrie, Austen Vickers, and and John Shaffer made short work of. For open middles and heavies, a Ford F250 with a few thousand pounds of extra equipment was used, and people were even added for the big boy class. Mark Carpenter took the gold at MW, though unbelievably masters MW Doug Prickett was even faster. At HW, Strassner managed about half the course, while Evans and Reynolds both nearly finished it.
The fourth event of the day was undoubtedly the most brutal. Competitor after competitor lied on the pavement writhing in pain and succumbing to exhaustion after the event. The medley consisted of a keg carry, a sandbag carry, another keg carry, and then the worst part, a giant chain drag. Gillian Paugh recovered well after an early drop with the keg, and finished the whole thing in under a minute. Crystal Anney slipped ahead of Stacey Marlar by about 3seconds here, showing fantastic strength in the carries. Buddy Guthrie was the only male competitor to finish his heat in under a minute, and many of them didn’t finish at all. Holbert, Pricket, and Strassner were all shut down by the giant chain drag, and reigning MW state champ Kenny Hacker barely finished in time clocking in at 1min 28sec – that’s almost 90sec of continuous all-out effort with extremely heavy and awkward implements! The strain and exhaustion of the event completely decimated Jake Reynolds, who was barely able to move for 10minutes after finishing the course. Reynolds admitted to me later that this was the first time he actually vomited at a contest. I have to admit I was proud to hear that it happened during one of our infamous WV death medleys haha!
In our stone series, the “Stones of the North”, 11 of our 16 competitors failed to complete the course. It was an incredibly difficult finale to a day full of rugged, brutal events. Competitors had to press a stone (or other implement) first, then load 3 atlas stones to a platform, and finally finish with another stone press. In a very rare instance in WV, tacky was legal for this event, but it came with a price. Since there were presses involved, competitors using tacky had to deal with their shirts being pulled by the sticky goo and they tried to get into position to press, and those with beards had even more serious issues. Additionally, with these events being contested outside, debris was an issue as it stuck to the stones and brushing them off only did so much to help with that. The bottom line was, no amount of sticky goo was going to help these competitors if they weren’t stone experts to begin with.
Many of our ladies struggled with the opening press. After 4 excruciating events, there just wasn’t much left in the gas tank for many of these warriors, male or female. O’Connor made it the furthest of any female, finishing the press, and the first two stone loads before being stumped by the 195lb boulder. Angela Messer aggravated a shoulder issue on the pressing portion, but seemed OK later – best wishes healing that up! Austen Vickers and John Shaffer both finished the course in the HW novice division, but it was Vickers that did it the fastest, finishing an impressive weekend of performances with a big win over a tough opponent. State Champ Kenny Hacker was the first to make the course look somewhat pedestrian, but then Ohio’s Mark Carpenter absolutely annihilated the course a full 8seconds faster. Mark put a stamp on his divisional win with the performance. The new “tacky stones” that live outside at Viking Performance Training are captained by a huge 360lb monster stone, which got its first taste of air time when the 6’5” 400lb Dan Evans heaved it up to the platform. This was a huge lift by a huge man, and one that drew plenty of praise.
Final standings were as follows:
Teen LWW–
1st Gillian Paugh

Masters LWW –
1st Angela Messer

2nd Stacey Marlar
1st Crystal Anney

1st Katie O’Connor

MW (175’s) -
1st Buddy Guthrie

HW Nov –
2nd John Shaffer
1st Austen Vikcers
HW Nov Masters –
1st Michael Brooks

MW Masters –
1st Doug Prickett

MW (231) –
3rd Rev. Matt Holbert
2nd Kenny Hacker
1st Mark Carpenter

HW (232+) –
3rd Josh Strassner
2nd Dan Evans
1st (via countback) Jake Reynolds

Special shout outs:
• Tyler Cosner, Val Walker, Calvin Moore, Colleen Speaker, Micki Pauley and everyone else that helped set up, clean up, and keep this event rolling.
• Dan Ryan Builders, Fox’s Pizza, and our sponsors that made this possible.
• Jay Handley for coming up with great ideas for this meet.
• Mark Carpenter and Jake Reynolds for competing up a class beyond their norm, and showing the toughness and determination to still pull off the wins.
The raid has ended for this summer, and the battles were legendary. Great treasures were brought home by many, and the pride of surviving two full days of war is now held by 3. We now move forward to our summer charity event “Reppin for William” on 8/15 where we will be benching and deadlifting for reps in support of a little guy that needs our help. After that we finish our Summer of Maxes on 9/26 with the max log event at our annual strongman homecoming, “The Strongest Man in the Forest”. We have Mas wrestling dates to be announced soon (very soon), and in the fall we have our annual Halloween strongman bash on Sunday 11/1 – costumes required! Finally, on December 12th we continue our tradition of helping others when we host our USPA Power for a Purpose powerlifting event to support Stepping Stones in Morgantown, WV.
Congrats to all of our competitors, and I’ll see you Saturday at “Reppin for William”!

Happy recovering,

-Paul Mouser, NAS WV State Chairman

477 Views · 2 Comments
Thu Aug 06 2015 01:15 PM Push It, Push It Real Good by Kozbee

What is your favorite pressing movement and why? Bench, overhead, even dip variations are all in the discussion.

I love log, not lamp, but log. It has it be a real log for maximum effect, but even a steel log feels like heaven to me when it's loaded heavy and in my grip. How do I love the log? Let me count the ways...

1) Brute strength over technical mastery. A log clean is decidedly simpler than a barbell clean from technical standpoint. Yes there are ways that you want to perform the lift for optimal efficiency, but I'd wager that just about anyone can learn a decent log clean in a single session whereas a maximal barbell clean usually looks like some sort of abortion until someone has been practicing for awhile.

2) It's tough. Holding that big ass log on one's chest is mighty uncomfortable and makes the dip and leg drive difficult because it pushes your head back (when using a log of decent size).

3) The look. Nothing looks cooler (IMO) in strongman than holding a big ass real log overhead. Makes for the best photos!

Alright yall, let's hear em'!

821 Views · 9 Comments
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