Finally, a medal upgrade!

I always seem to take the toughest road. My slow but inexorably increasing national meet totals were the backbone behind my first National-level silver medal, but a bit of luck was still required as the 77kg class, as well as several others, has been getting progressively tougher over the last couple of years.

First attempts should always be good!
My second attempt, a 128kg "National meet" PR snatch was not enough to garner a snatch medal, as Jason Bourgeois beat it on bodyweight, Jake Rubash snatched 130kg, and Chad Vaughn landed 141kg. Mike Cerbus bombed with several attempts in the mid-130s, and Chad was briefly in trouble when he missed his opener at 140kg, but my own miss at 130kg is just as much to blame for the continued lack of hardware.

Meanwhile, while Jake keeps improving, his 146kg clean and jerk wasn't enough to put a medal total under his control. I opened conservatively with 157kg and was unable to control the dip on the jerk drive, and after saving the lift it was turned down for a soft lockout. Jason made 157kg, so I bumped up to 158kg for the lead, which I handled just fine. Mike Cerbus stuck around and hit 163kg on his second attempt, so Leo had me go up to 164kg to try and stay ahead in the CJ medals and to put pressure on Jason. Once again I made the clean, but another rushed dip cost me the jerk, and 128kg/158kg/286kg was all I could post. Jason, meanwhile, was the target of some confusion, as he had called for 164kg and should have gone before me due to lower lot number. The head table then denied his ability to take that weight and he asked for 165kg, then it appeared they reversed the decision, but Jason was already ready, so with 165kg loaded he made a valiant attempt.

I admit, I can't tell if I'm happy or disappointed.
I'll be honest; I knew Jason would not make that lift. He was a great competitor, but this was his first national meet, and it's hard to deal with the added stress of that particular situation. I had forced him to take a significant weight jump, and he was unable to ignore the conflict going on behind the scenes. I have no doubt that he's capable of cleaning and jerking 165kg, but there is an advantage to being a veteran. Thankfully (for me, anyway) I was correct, and Jason was gracious in defeat when he congratulated me afterwards. Quite a campaign to get a bronze medal in your first national meet!

Chad, of course, remained Chad, and opened very conservatively with an easy 171kg. With that out of the way he jumped to 184kg but missed the jerk. As much as I would have loved Chad to bomb and give me my own first national title, that ship had sailed, so I joined his cheerleading squad and gave him my best encouragement. This time he made it - keep in mind that's only 6kg under his own American record - and made my day when he told me, "I made that one for you!"

Chad won a picture of a barbell.
It's taken a couple years, but we've broken the ice in the 77kg class. Pretty much everybody at the top was laughing and joking with everyone else. Billy Bybee shared the warmup platform with me and we had a great time, and all five (!) of us who earned medals were talking while we waited for awards. Jake likes to tell me in disbelief that, "[I'm] always smiling!," even when hungry and waiting for weigh-ins. I'm glad that we don't take this too seriously, because in fifteen years when all of our careers are over we're going to remember these days and know it was all worth it. I dub 77 kilos "the friendliest weightclass."

One of the backstories going on at this meet was the introduction of updated results after each session. We have been looking to make a place where our fans can watch the action and see what's going on in a simple way, so I set up a system where we could upload the information directly to the website so people didn't have to wait several days for USAW to officially release it. Leo recruited Jami Willette-Brown to put together a crew to do the grunt work, and she got Chalene Fleming and Mary Storch involved. They were all so awesome that everything went flawlessly except for some minor hiccups due to extremely poor internet connectivity and some technical issues that I missed. The results speak for themselves, as our traffic jumped nearly an order of magnitude. We're already actively working on improving the system for next time!

It's like I'm at work! When Chalene wasn't busy working on
the results she was instead busy fixing Jared's computer.
It doesn't hurt that we finished the weekend both Men's and Women's National Champions again (seven years in a row for the men). We had seven total medals - two golds, three silvers, and two bronzes - and Rizelyx made fourth in line for the Olympics. Congratulations go out to Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold for securing spots on the Olympic Team. They really deserve it; it would have taken at least one American record for Rizelyx to break into that group.

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