The Meet in Retrospect
The evidence was obvious when the chalk cleared, signs of a fierce battle showed in every area of the Planet Fitness Dungeon. The warriors were beat and battered, but yet to be broken. As the sweat was wiped from the platform and the blood cleaned from the bar of war, a few stood victorious among their peers. Feasting on the energy and power that laid slain in the air, the warriors gorged on their victory much as barbarians feasting on the meat of a fresh kill.
Encompassing every breath with a sense of new found direction, it had become obvious that The Battle of the Baddest Johnny Perry Memorial was the meet to beat on the East Coast. More superstars were in attendance than at a Wrestlemania, and the main event was a spectacular battle to the last callous-ripping pull to determine the Best Overall Lifters.
Standing in the wings giving every ounce of their compassion and energy to the combatants standing upon the field of battle were legends such as Steve Goggins, who brought with him an explosive Tank Williams who defied gravity and moral reason with some superb lifting. Donnie Thompson who made the three hour trek just to provide a monolift for the smorgasbord of breath snatching squats. Bench great, Glenn Chabot, and pro strongman, Geoffry Dolan, lending their brute strength as spotters. Capt. Kirk Kawoski’s presence was felt and his love and dedication to the sport pierced through many of the lifters as he continuously helped them wrap and lend an expert piece of advice. Former World Champion and Mr. NC, Randy Smith, lent his expert eye from the Judge’s seat.
Also, if you let your eyes sift through the hundreds of fans in attendance, you could see three of the most dominating and sensuous ladies of lifting giving their all to the lifters, screaming support, getting down in the trenches of battle to just feel the adrenaline. Amy “Firecracker” Vaughan, Julie “Zenmaster” Scanlonand Kara “Bench Press Barbie” Bohigan all cemented their dedication to the sport by showing up in Clayton to provide the much needed gas that ignites the greatest of fires. These powerhouses kept the coals scorching long after the battle had extinguished itself.
When the participants began dragging themselves from the blood and sweat drenched field, where many laid their hearts and bodies on the line for a mere moment of pure domination, Travis “Monster” Mashstood the ultimate victor and claimed the Best Male Overall Lifter with a 10x bodyweight total of 2235 at 217 pounds. He demolished a 920 lb squat with the ease and precision of a surgeon performing an open heart surgery. Travis left in concrete his immortal steps on the path to 1000 lbs. As he shot out from under the bar, the crowd roared to its feet while his eyes showed the purist form of determination and appreciation for the game. He followed his ascent to the top with a 565 bench press and a mesmerizing pull of 750. The last pull for Mash was the most defining moment of the meet. Upon approaching the platform he knew it was showtime, and he was destined to be the shining star. When he eventually allowed the weight to reclaim its resting place, his eyes gleamed with rage and his face showed all the months of perspiration and pain rolled into a few brief seconds.
On his heels by formula the entire day was the phenom from Maryland, Jeff “The Stuff” McVicar. Flexing his equally peerless and fearless array of jaw dropping lifts, Jeff demolished a 765 squat to keep him in proximity of Travis. He slayed 545 on the bench and went onward to the 600 pound plateau. With more effort than put into the construction of the great pyramids, he drove through the iron and bar as a demon possessed shell only to fall just a hairline short. He approached the deadlift platform, and displaying the obvious ravages of his rampages, called for 645 to be loaded. Upon his upward ascension, he cracked a smile with a defining moan that brought the crowd up once again, to full lockout. With that lift, he knew that the ultimate trophy was now in Mash’s hand to grab or drop.
Tank Williams was another lifter that stayed in the heat of the battle. Tank showed tremendous fortitude – and as much enthusiasm as a lion that had just captured the fastest gazelle and was about to embark upon his first bone crunching meal of the year. He crushed a 705 squat, incinerated a 430 bench and simply conquered a 550 deadlift to win the 181 Men’s Open.
Winning the 242 class, coming in at an ultra-light 222 and pulling the heaviest deadlift of the day, was Brandon “C4″ Cass. Doing his third meet in four weeks, Brandon never hinted at a sign of fatigue, and despite a sore leg, waded through the trenches with an uncontrollable desire to reach victory. Riding the wave of his flawless 800 lb squat and exercising a perfect 530 lb bench, Brandon headed to the point of battle where he demands respect – and not resting on his legendary laurels – he grabbed an astounding 785 pounds. Knowing that Zach “Big Mack” Hudack and Clay Castile had just blistered 725 and Travis Mash had conquered 750, it was time for the great dead lifter to pull another victory from the floor of defeat. After allowing gravity to finally take control, the bent bar descended to the platform with an earth-shattering jolt. All eyes focused upon the lights as the judges granted the whites to an exhausted but elated Cass. Even after pushing his body to the limitations of existence, and doing that many meets in such a short time period, the eye-popping Cass finished a very close second in the Overall Best Lifter category; Thus proving that even the seemingly impossible is attainable.
The most moving event of the day was the infamous Bill “The Crawfish” Crawford, the man with the nastiest bite in benching. Flying the Metal Militia flag, he made the 12 hour journey to pay respect to a fallen man whom he’d never meet, but through word of mouth, a man for whom he had the utmost respect and admiration. Bill, nursing a sore leg also, came to win the Best Bencher Title and money, and he chose to donate it to the Perry Family. Bill secured his place as a great lifter, but more so as a greater human being by his generous act of kindness. My eyes, as well as many in the crowd, were swollen almost shut with tears of memories and mourning as Bill laid under the bench and simply devastated 675, 700, and then blistered 725 pounds. But the greatest lifting he did was when he ascended to the pad of the bench. He raised his hand upward in the direction of heaven, and there, with simplistic letters written in chalk across his stomach, were the letters JP. He bellowed out, “I did this one for Johnny!”
In this cruel and pretentious world, it is a rarity to see such a gleam of honest care for a fellow human being. It’s lifters that show the brawn, along with the compassion, that drive this sport to the upper level of the public’s eye and my hat is off to Bill Crawford.
The battle for the Best Junior lifter was a slugfest between Kyle “Smiley” Robertson and Zach “Big Mack” Hudack. Kyle had been fighting a flu bug, but came on game day with no excuses and an array of jaw jacking lifts. He set all his points and put himself in the NC record book by breaking all the 220 Men’s Junior records and winning his class. He dive-bombed a 700 lb squat, then followed it with a spectacular 535 lb bench. Then, after showing obvious signs of exhaustion, trotted onward to pull a 635 lb deadlift all at 21 years old. A definite future superstar, don’t let this guy ever escape your radar. He will be more than a passing bleep on the power lifting scene.
Zack Hudack was not to be outdone. Today was his day to wield the sword of victory winning his class and stepping off the blood-splattered field with the best Overall Junior Lifter award. Zach hit all his lifts with a definitive ease and tried major jumps. In his own words, “I left a lot out there today, I mainly hit my openers, keep your eyes open at Nationals.” However, his openers themselves were impressive and deserve praise. In the 275 lb class, Zach obliterated a 865 lb squat. Then, instead of playing a numbers game, went straight for a National record of 905 lbs. Today was not to be his day of reckoning; howeve,r it was another notch for the soon to be immortal junior lifter that will eventually astonish the scene. Zach went on to put a 575 lb bench under his already powerful belt, and then headed to the platform where the meet really begins. At 23 years old, Zach went after the heaviest deadlift of the day. He pulled a massive 725 only to leave the platform with that title now in Brandon Cass’s hands and on the bar of power.
Other awesome lifts and devastating poundages were moved by several gigantic men. First, a member of the Ga Barbell Crew, Jay “The Rhino” Rhyne won the 308 class and started his climb to the top with a monstrous 920 squat. Tied for the highest squat of the day, we knew the Rhino was about to lay out some serious bashing. He continued his pursuit to the highest plateau with a 605 lb bench and followed with a mammoth 700 lb pull. Persevering in his corner with some eye-popping lifting of his own, also representing the Ga Barbell Crew, wasClay “The Cougar” Castile. Clay incinerated a 840 Lb squat, obliterated a 550 lb bench and basically destroyed a 725 lb deadlight. He totaled 2115, the same as Cass in the 242, but lost on the bodyweight coefficient.
Winning the Best Sportsmanship award, and one of the largest competitors, was Brent “The Hitman” Lever. Having sculpted his body daily in the gym and battling through shattered hips, two torn pecs, torn quads and hams, and a ton of surgeries, the Hitman showed a huge heart. Approaching the first squat of 700 lbs he flexed his watermelon biceps, tree-trunk thighs and a chest covering enough space to be mapped as an outer loop for any major city. He ripped through his first attempt but also ripped through his Hamstring, and thus put a bleak beam on a very promising day. Not one to complain, however, Brent persevered and finished his battle with a 500 lb bench and a 720 lb pull, injured hamstring and all, and totaled up 1920 lbs.
Also notable was the presence of Phil “Hands of Steel” Harrington who has the quickest deadlift in the game. Phil was definitely on his way to a 10x bodyweight day after showing up in stupendous shape, muscles flared, veins popping and an intensity level that stands second to none. He started the climb for the peak nailing a 720 lb squat, but due to only technical difficulties, not lack of raw power, his day ended on the bench in an attempt to polish off a 525 lb bench. Being the ever relentless competitor he is, Phil went on to finish his day and pull an astounding 640 lb dead.
We had a few very strong and anxious teens on hand that displayed a growing love for the sport as well as some very promising potential. Winning the overall Best Teen Lifter was Pete Holtz, who simply left the crowd in awe and a sense of wonder after his every lift. Pete is an up and coming bright ray of hope – full of positive energy and unmatched power in his division. Being trained by the infamous Travis Mash, he has the right tools and tutelage for the game. Pete amassed a 525 lb squat, 370 lb bench, and a 495 lb dead to nail a total of 1390 lbs. Closely behind was Brock Dulko, also in the Teens 242, with a total 1055.
The entire Clayton Crew was well represented also. Jeremy Gupton won the 165 Men’s Open and Juniors with a total of 1220 lbs. Brett Rapp took second in the 181′s lifting in all single ply gear with a total of 1585 lbs. Phillip Bailey who took second in the Men’s Open and Juniors 165 amassing 950 pounds in his first full power meet.
The Big Dogs in the super heavy were lead by Michael “Big Dog” Neal who spanked an 825 squat, 625 single ply bench press and erupted up with an 650 lb dead to hit a grand total of 2150 lbs.
Notable benches were Jon “Vette” Peterson in the 242 with a 575, followed closely by second place Rudy Turnerwith a 565. Bob Gunn in the 40-49 masters 242 class hit an astounding 485 and Rusty “Superman” Williford – local legend – devoured a 500 lb raw bench in the 275 opens. Also notable were “Chill” Will Lynch with a raw 465 in the 198′s, and Tom Lewis with a 470 in the 181′s.
Dr. Howard Gutnick smoked up a new National record in the 50-59 181 masters class pulling a 535 dead and ended up with a 1285 total.
In the women’s division, the field was dominated by Stacey Manley in the 181 Women’s open who hit a 390 squat, 205 bench and a 405 deadlift to total 1000 lbs in her first meet ever. She walked away with best Female Lifter, Best Female Bencher and Biggest Female deadlift as well as the $850.00 that went with the titles. Kayla Sir Mans in the Women’s 123 Teens hit a raw 120 bench with ease. Might want to see if she continues in this sport, as she definitely possesses a future.
The awards were done by Carl Seeker who had all sculptured trophies and handed swords and battle axes to the best lifters – by far the best set of awards I have seen at any meet. The atmosphere was so intense with the blaring music and screaming crowd that even when the lifters were waiting to perform their next feat of strength, they would expand a plethora of energy just supporting each other. Everyone wanted to see a lifter’s meet and no one left unhappy.
A special thanks to Wade “The Big” Johnson and Kris “Lil Big” Johnson for their trek down from Tenn and the use of their equipment, as well as Kris taking the time to pull deads and ending up with a raw 345. A special thank you to Lance “Loco” Loganbill, who took the time from his busy schedule to bring a second monolift and surrender his services all day in honor of a friend. To my three beautiful table crew – Marcie, Trisha and Melissa, please know that without you three, there would be no winners; I did all the gabbing and you did all the work. Also, we want to thank all of the sponsors that helped, especially Crain’s Muscle World who provided gift certificates for all the winners and Pete Ashenden for videoing the entire event.
The promoters, myself, Jason Hocutt and Jeff McVicar invite everyone to return next year to the Third Annual Battle of the Baddest Johnny Perry Memorial.