It's official: I'm going to Senior Nationals next year!
Yesterday at the East Coast Classic in Moorestown, NJ, I snatched 107kg and clean and jerked 140kg for a 247kg total, the exact amount needed to qualify for Senior Nationals in the 77kg weight class. Along the way I won gold out of six in my class and picked up the best lifter award for the session (56kg-77kg men), my first trophy!
Honestly, the competition was lighter than expected, so there's only so many kudos to be given out. East Coast Gold hosts another, similar meet later in the year, the Gold Cup Challenege, at which I took 5th place out of thirteen contestants last year. The four people that beat me were Dan DeLago, Jared Fleming, Brian Swedrock, and Chris McInnes. This time Dan and Brian weren't there and Jared moved up to 85kg. I did manage to pull ahead of Chris, who took second, and nobody else came close. Lance Frye would have easily won had he chosen to make weight, but instead lifted as an extra lifter and totaled 325kg. He even made an attempt to clean and jerk 191kg, a would-be American Record for 77kg, but couldn't stand up with the clean.
At the meet I only went four for six, missing both of my openers in thankfully unimportant moments of stupidity. After snatching 101kg and standing up, I forgot to wait for the down signal from the head judge, and I had one of those "oh, crap!" moments as I watched the weight drop and only then heard the judge (Randy Hauer, by the way) telling me to put it down. No, that is not a legal lift, and they turned me down (well, 1 to 2 anyway. Thanks, Vic!). I made up for it though when I snatched 104kg next by holding on for an extra second or two after Randy told me to drop it. On the last snatch of 107kg, the crowd really got into it, which always gets me going (remind me to mention my thoughts on that later). The lift went great, I turned my head to look at one of the side judges while sitting at the bottom, stood up, and again waited the extra second after given the down signal. The crowd cheered with me, a 4kg meet snatch PR for me, and the first time I've done a meet with all squat snatches! For the clean and jerks, I had, to use Leo's terminology, a brain fart on 135kg when the clean crashed on me. I made up for it on the next attempt by doing the same weight easily. I needed a 247kg total for Nationals, and I already had 107kg for snatch, so 140kg went on the bar for my last attempt. The clean was good. The jerk wasn't my best, but it was good, and that's all I needed!
I didn't actually expect much more out of the meet. I managed to bruise a bone in my left hand about two weeks ago, and it has wreaked havoc on my clean and jerks. The problem is that the pain makes it hard to keep the bar in the right position when starting the jerk. Consequently I have missed several jerks in practice and I missed my opening clean when I hadn't missed any at all over the last couple of months, lifting as much as 142kg with no problem. I've also been a bit overeager and gone too heavy too often, so my body needed some rest. However, Mike Walters once again saved the day and loosened up my hand, showed me how to support it with tape, and completely fixed my knee that had been hurting. Without his help there's no way I could have done it.
For my part, I accomplished my goal to qualify. From here on out, I no longer have to worry about making it to national competitions. In fact, as far as I know, local meets don't count for anything anymore except my unofficial national ranking (official ones are only earned from totals at national and international meets and are based off of ALL weight classes). Still, two weeks from now is the Maryland State and Potomac Valley Championships in Frederick, the end of my first full year of competition. It's Tim Guarino's meet, and I told him I'd snatch 110kg and clean and jerk 150kg! Might as well go for broke ;-).