Heather’s performance at last year’s Raw Nationals was truly phenomenal. Breaking all four American records, she went on to break the 47kg open deadlift record at the Arnold in March, and then win her first ever IPF World Classic Championship title in Belarus. Heather is not only the favorite to win the 47kg title at the Raw Nationals this year, but is on track to unofficially break her deadlift world record and potentially total, recently posting a speedy 170kg pull, 5kg below her world record, on Instagram.
Two-time junior world champion and five-time junior USAPL national champion in the 47kg class, Allegra Hudson has had a stunning career so far. This will be her first time competing in the opens, and she’s nominated second with her 335kg total – not bad for someone fresh out of the juniors. Though she’s around 40kg off Heather’s best total, Allegra is one strong 47kg lifter, and it will be very entertaining to watch her compete with Heather properly for the first time.
Masters 1 lifter Lisa Rothman represented the USA at the 2016 IPF World Classic Championships in the open category of the 47kg lifters alongside Heather, and placed sixth overall. She also won the 2015 USAPL Raw Nationals before Heather stormed the Powerlifting scene, and placed second last year. Now with Allegra in the opens, Lisa will have to fight hard if she wants to maintain her silver medal position, nominated only 7.5kg behind Allegra’s total.
After dabbling in the 66kg class last year and placing fourth at the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals in the Teen 3 division, Matthew made the decision to move down to the 59kg class and for good reason – he’s now nominated first. After making the cut down, he competed at the Connecticut Summer Showdown this year and posted a 527.5kg total, which was especially good considering he missed his final two deadlift attempts of 242.5kg. With neither Bill Tenerelli, Shorty Sadang, or Shawn Frasquillo lifting at the Raw Nationals this year, if Matthew manages to pull it all together on the day, this 1997-born lifter could walk away with the gold in the open division.
Only 17.5kg behind Matthew in the nominations is Andres Ramos. This newcomer competed for the first time this year in April, putting together a 510kg. Since then, Andres has posted some immense training numbers on social media, including a comfortable 500lbs squat, not far off the world record, but above the American record. Born in 1999, Andres makes Matthew look old, and will make the 59kg class very exciting indeed. Watch out for him to officially break the American record squat and potentially win gold overall.
After posting a 505kg total at the Arnold Classic earlier this year, Danny is nominated third at this year’s Raw Nationals. Though only 5kg behind Andres’ total, he’ll need to perform his best to maintain his bronze medal position with heated competition closely behind him from the other 59kg lifters.
Coming into this year’s USAPL Raw Nationals as reigning IPF world champion in the 52kg class, Marisa in undoubtedly the favorite to win. Before she won the World’s, Marisa put together an amazing performance at the Arnold Classic and set a new 52kg world record total of 430kg. Taking on Joy Nnamani and Liz Craven at the World’ was very tough, but she managed to come out on top. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how Marisa performs this year at the Raw Nationals and if she is able to push her well-rounded total to new heights and unofficial world records.
Head coach of the USAPL team and an M2 lifter, Suzie Hartwig-Gary is a legend in the sport, competing since 1991. She joined Marisa this year at the World Championships, also representing team USA in the 52kg open division, where she chipped Liz Craven’s world record squat to set it herself with a massive 156.5kg. Though she’s nominated just over 30kg behind Marisa, it’s always a spectacle to see someone of her age lifting at the most elite level, where we may even see her unofficially extend her world record squat.
Tina has always been one of the USA’s top 52kg lifters, and will do her best to beat Suzanne as the number two 52kg lifter in the U.S., and edge closer to the elusive 500 Wilks mark which she is so close to hitting. Nominated a mere 1.5kg off of Suzanne’s total from the World’s, it will make for a mighty fine battle for the silver medal, or even the gold if the day doesn’t go well for Marisa.
Jennifer Millican is not only ranked the number one 57kg lifter in the USA, but is also ranked the number one female regardless of weight class in the world with her insane 542.53 Wilks score from the World Classic Championships earlier this year. After years of Jennifer Thompson and Kimberly Walford tossing the best lifter title back and forth between themselves, Jennifer Millican took the Powerlifting scene by storm at the USAPL Raw Nationals 2016, and then went in to win her first World’s in 2017. Though this full-time working mother won’t have much competition, her lifting will be arguably the biggest spectacle to watch. Don’t miss it.
Competing at her first USAPL Raw Nationals last year in 2016, Ashley placed fifth with a strong 392.5kg total in a tight race for a medal finish. A few months later, she posted a huge 415kg total at the Arnold Classic, despite missing her second and third attempt deadlifts of 191kg – which would have been a world record at the time. Now ranked second in the 57kg class with this total, we’re sure Ashley will be posting another big performance to place second next to Jennifer.
Christina is the third and final American 57kg lifter who has hit a 400kg+ total in the last year, and this will be her first national competition. Competing for the first time in June, she totaled 402.5kg for a 476 Wilks score, and is now nominated third coming into Raw Nationals – not bad for someone’s first competition. Christina will no doubt be gunning for the silver medal position if the day goes well for her as it’s well within her grasp.
Reigning 66kg champion of the USAPL Raw Nationals, Keith is one of the best 66kg lifters in the world. His best lifts are a 247.5kg squat, 152.5kg bench, and 277.5kg deadlift for a 677.5kg total – only 2.5kg off off Sergey Gladkikh’s total world record. Fun fact if you didn’t know: Keith takes pretty much only one warmup set before squatting his opener, as he feels he quickly becomes drained doing much more. If that doesn’t make him one of the most interesting lifters in the USAPL, we don’t know what does. Make sure you’re watching to see if Keith unofficially sets any world records and defend his 66kg title.
World renowned equipped 66kg lifter Charles Okpoko will be entering the raw scene for the first time in years. The last time Charles competed raw was in 2015, where he squatted 242.5kg, benched 147.5kg, and deadlifted 250kg for a 640kg total and 503 Wilks. In his equipped career, he’s won two junior equipped world championships, placed second in the open 66kg class world championships last year, and even placed third at the 2017 World Games in the Lightweight division. Having just hit some light openers to qualify for the Raw Nationals earlier this year, Charles and Keith McHoney will have an epic showdown for the 66kg title, where the outcome is unknown given we haven’t seen Charles compete raw properly in a long time. Don’t miss Charles during the morning session!
Junior lifter Dallas Bey is nominated second in the open 66kg class this year after winning the 2017 Collegiate National Championships in April. Prior to this, Dallas last competed nationally at the USAPL Raw Nationals in 2015, where he placed fourth in the juniors. The junior 66kg title would have been guaranteed for him if it wasn’t for Charles Okpoko entering the raw scene, who is still a junior this year and next. Dallas will need to fight hard to take home the bronze medal in the opens too, where the competition is fierce even without Charles and Keith McHoney.
Climbing up the ranks in the 66kg class in Jonathan Garcia, who after placing fifth last year is now nominated third with his 622.5kg total. Jonathan’s a big squatter, missing 247.5kg on his third attempt at a local competition in January this year. Despite being a contender for the gold medal squat against Keith McHoney and Charles Okpoko, Jonathan will need to fight hard for a podium finish with the intense level of competition in the 66kg class this year.
Jennifer Thompson is a Powerlifting legend. With multiple overall best female lifter and championship titles from the World’s, Jennifer is most renowned for her immense bench strength of which no one has come particularly close – she holds the world record with a 141.5kg press. This year she didn’t compete at the World’s due to injury, but is now back to maintain her title as the number one 63kg lifter in the USA, and guarantee her spot on the world team for 2018.
Natalie placed second at the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals next to none other than Jennifer Thompson, and has since added over 20kg to her total from the NAPF Championships in July, where she pulled together 462.5kg. If that rate of progress is anything to go by, she could give Jennifer a run for her money, who generally totals between 470-480kg. If a battle for medals is what you’re looking for, the 63kg class is the one to watch.
Coming in nominated with the same total as Natalie, Samantha is another up and coming 63kg lifter who has been making consistent progress. Just like Natalie, this is Samantha’s second USAPL Raw National competition, where last year she placed third, only 13kg behind Natalie. Posting promising numbers on social media, including a smooth 225lbs bench (5kg over her competition best), things are looking good for Samantha in the very competitive 63kg class.
Kirsten is the third lifter coming in with a 462.5kg total in the nominations, ranked second, third and fourth with Natalie and Samantha, which really shows just how fierce the competition will be for any medal position. Kirsten was actually beaten by Samantha at the 5 Bar Showdown competition in July just gone by bodyweight, with less than 400g between the two of them after both posting 462.5kg totals. However, this is Kirsten’s first Raw National competition since 2014, so we look forward to seeing how she performs against the other ladies, and how this stacked weight class pans out.
Coming off a great performance at the 2017 IPF World Classic Championships earlier this year, Taylor is in good stead to maintain his position as the dominant 74kg lifter in America. At the World’s, he put together an immense 733kg total to earn himself the silver medal, which would have been enough to win the World’s in 2016 and set a total world record if it wasn’t for Kjell Bakkelund, who took first place and broke it himself. Taylor also squatted a huge 265.5kg world record (before it was also beaten at the meet), so will be looking to extend upon his best lifts and put together a great performance to secure his spot for 2018 World’s.
Stephen “Blake” Lehew
Junior lifter Blake Lehew currently holds the 74kg junior total world record with 696kg. He also put together an immense raw performance earlier this year, totaling a huge 715kg despite going 6 for 9, even having a few jabs at some world records. He then spent the rest of the year focusing on equipped lifting, winning the 74kg junior title at the equipped World Championships. Now back on the raw scene for the 2017 Raw Nationals, we can look forward to seeing what strength he’s developed and if he can unofficially beat any junior or open world records. Heck, he could even beat Taylor.
Russel Orhii was meant to compete at last year’s Raw Nationals for the first time, but pulled out due to injury. Since then, he’s been working with JoeyFlexx and has come back stronger than ever, not only in with a chance to become the best American 83kg lifter, but the best 83kg lifter in the world if he continues at his current rate of progress. Though John Haack is out of the USAPL scene this year, Russel would even have given him a run for his money. At a recent local competition, Russel squatted 297.5kg, only .5kg off John’s world record. He also benched 182.5kg and deadlifted 312.5kg for an immense 792.5kg total, only 21.5kg behind Brett Gibbs’ world record.
Sean had a massive showdown with Jon “Deuce” Gruden at the 2017 IPF World Classic Championships, both men representing team USA in the 83kg juniors. Ultimately it was Deuce that won the championship title when Sean’s winning 300kg deadlift was overturned by the jury for unlocked shoulders. At his most recent competition, Sean squatted 280kg, benched 185kg, and deadlifted 297.5kg for a 12.5kg meet PB. With his training going well, Sean is not only a contender for the junior 83kg title, but for the open title as well if Russel makes any slip up.
Ryan has been around the USAPL Powerlifting scene for a while now, but this will be the first time he’s entered national competition in a three-lift event. Last year he placed second at the bench press nationals, and has since put together a big 737.5kg three-lift total, comprising of a 255kg squat, 195kg bench and 287.5kg deadlift. Ryan will be keeping Sean on his toes to maintain his silver medal position, and make the very competitive 83kg division even more heated.
As the level of competition rises each year, Dexter Jones remains one of the top 83kg lifters in the country. Last year he placed third next to John Haack and Deuce Gruden, but this year will need to fight hard to get a spot on the podium. Having posted a 499 Wilks score twice, Dexter will also be looking to finally reach the elusive 500 Wilks mark.