A cross-country flight was in store for me this year when competing at Raw Nationals in Orlando, FL. It’s always tough to compete after having to fly almost five hours to get to a contest, but I was prepared to meet the challenge. This year’s contest was held at the Hyatt Orlando International Airport. This venue was actually very convenient because the hotel was located inside the airport. As soon as I cleared the secured area from my flight, there were escalators leading right up to the Hyatt.
I knew I had my work cut out for me in defending my title this year. Jaisyn Mike from Texas had beaten me in Belarus this past June at the IPF Classic Raw World Championships. Even though I won the silver medal, I knew it was going to be tough. I also had to watch out for Jamey Grotjhan from Alaska. Although I beat Jamey last year by tying him in the total and winning by bodyweight, I knew he was going to come in fierce and do some serious work.
My plan was to squat near 688 lb. I opened with 639 lb and smoked it. I then hit 661 lb on my 2nd attempt and finally gutted out a 683 lb for my 3rd attempt. I’m not sure why, but I felt like I wasn’t filling enough air in my diaphragm and engaging my core. I ended up with the 2nd highest squat in the Master’s M1 class because Jaisyn squatted 700 lb on his 3rd.
Bench press was next and I knew this is where I would lose ground to both Jaisyn and Jamey. They are big pressers—I have seen Jaisyn open with 573 lb before in competition. I opened conservatively with 417 lb because it seemed that a lot of athletes were getting a long “Start and Press” command, and nailed it easily. I eventually pressed 451 lb on my 3rd attempt which broke the Washington state record. Jamey made a huge move, pressing 551 lb, while Jaisyn ended up with 562 lb. So both guys got ahead of me by making a huge jump in the sub-total. This is a lift that I seriously need to improve so that I don’t fall behind in contests.
Deadlifts were next. I opened with 678 lb and it felt super easy. Needing to make up ground for 2nd overall, I kept an eye on what opening weight Jamey would hit. Jamey opened with 650 lb and Jaisyn opened with 661 lb. Slowly I started to chip away at Jamey’s 2nd place lead over me. My next attempt was 711 lb. While I pulled this, I noticed that fatigue was setting in and I didn’t pull it as easily, so I really had to get my mind right knowing that my 3rd deadlift was going to be a challenge. Jamey pulled 689 lb on his 2nd attempt which unfortunately still put me 33 lb behind in sub-total for the silver medal. So if I was going to take a crack at 2nd place overall by tying Jamey and beating him on bodyweight, I had to make an attempt at 749 lb. This was a huge jump after just pulling 711 lb, but I came to Nationals to lay it all on the line. I approached the bar and took a sniff of ammonia…grabbed it and yanked as hard as I could. The bar broke a few inches off the floor, but I couldn’t get it any higher. No lift. I took home the bronze medal at this year’s Raw Nationals.
Jaisyn surprisingly only got his deadlift opener, but thanks to his squat and huge bench press, he took the gold medal and won the Master’s M1 national championship. He also secured a spot on the USA World Team.
Being able to say that I am 3rd in the nation in the USAPL Raw Nationals is truly humbling. However, it still hurts knowing that I went 8 for 9 attempts and only won the bronze. It’s really tough after I was able to experience being on the podium for Team USA in Belarus and hearing the “Star Spangled Banner” play in the arena this past June. But my hat’s off to Jaisyn and Jamey who had a better day than me. Jaisyn was 5 for 9 attempts in this contest and he was still able to beat me and Jamey. This shows you how the situation can change at a powerlifting meet. You think you did well in a lift or two, but it can quickly change and nip you in the butt that fast.
I am proud to have accomplished the following:
- Broke the Washington state record in 120+ class for bench press with 452 lb
- Broke the Washington state record in 120+ class in the total with 1,846.4 lb (this was 5.5 lb more than what I lifted at IPF World’s in June)
- Finished 2nd overall in the “Best Male Master’s Lifter” to Jaisyn Mike (due to my light bodyweight). I was the lightest SHW in my class, weighing in at 295 lb.
I want to give a huge thanks to Animal Pak for supporting me in this journey. Their supplements have helped me to get strong and healthy, and I was honored to share the platform with all of the other lifters. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing that I couldn’t do better and not be able to make the World Team, but I will have to learn from this and move on. Life is full of obstacles and we need to pick ourselves up, dust off, and get back into the gym to train harder.
Raw Nationals 2018 will be in Spokane, Washington next year. The first time it’s being held in my home state…and I will be ready.