The views expressed in this article are solely that of Ryan Carrillo himself and not that of 9for9 Media or USA Powerlifting.
I’m a nostalgic person, memories give me warm fuzzy feelings inside and recalling the good times I have with great people fills my heart with joy. The time has come to recall some of my favorite moments over the course of 2016 in the USA Powerlifting world. The last year has been full of epic performances and momentous occasions. Let’s take a ride on the nostalgia machine and recall some of my personal favorite moments this year so that we may never forget.
Blaine Sumner dabs. Oh, and he squats 500kg.
Who doesn’t remember the Dab seen round the world? There is no better feat to start this list off with than Blaine Sumner’s performance at the Arnold Sports Festival. Blaine lifted more weight than any other powerlifter in history in March of 2016, and his performance was kicked off with a 500kg (1100lb) squat.
“START” the Vanilla Gorilla sits back and hits the hole with 500kg, he stands up with it, racks the bar, AND HE DABS. Three white lights – there was no question on this one – and history was made! Blaine’s squat was an incredible start to the USA Powerlifting year, he went on to bench press a World Record of 401.5kg (885lbs) and set a new World Record total of 1271.5kg (2803lbs). But never forget the dab: 5 March 2016.
Nick Weite & Krzysztof Wierzbicki hype up the crowd
There are few things more badass than a monster deadlift on the big stage at the Arnold Sports Festival. This year we saw two deadlift masters: Nick Weite of the USA and Krzysztof Wierzbicki of Poland go head to head during the Pro Deadlift event. This was a treat for powerlifting fans as we watched Nick deadlift 380kg (838lbs) and barely miss 410kg (903lbs) and then Krzysztof successfully pulled 395kg (870lbs) at just 105kg (231lbs) bodyweight!
Eric Kupperstein shows the whippersnappers what’s good
Watching Kupp lift is like watching Mother Theresa heal sick babies; you know you are witnessing something rare and divine. Kupp is a living legend in powerlifting, and 2016 was another impressive year for the small, but mighty, lifter from Massachusetts. We saw Kupp lift at the Arnold Pro Raw Challenge, Open Nationals, Classic Worlds, and Raw Nationals all in 2016. Kupp won EVERY SINGLE MEET as a Masters lifter and even won the Open Division in his weight class (74kg) at the Pro Raw Challenge. He placed 2nd in the Open division at Open Nationals and 3rd at Raw Nationals. This guy showed the young bucks that age is just a number, and to brush up on their Kung Fu if they ever want to dethrone the Kuppmiester.
Everyone must bow down to Tony Harris
“Dude, Tony Harris is a fucking GOD!” says Joe Cappellino with a beer in his hand he watches Tony Harris deadlift 342.5kg (755lbs) to win the Open Division at Raw Nationals… as a Masters 2 lifter (50+ years old). I, for one, will be entering a motion at the 2017 NGB meeting mandating all lifters bow down to Tony Harris as he enters and exits a room. Tony continues to redefine what it means to be strong and continually makes us all take a step back and say, “why am I even lifting?” Tony is a national treasure and the baddest dude alive.
LS McClain sets the example
@lsm97m with a near win of the 93kg class at @usapowerlifting #rawnationals2016. Footage by @lurchman76 who authored the first of three parts in our 2016 year in review. Check it out on the website. #usapl #usapowerlifting #9for9 #powerlifting #deadlift #powerlifter
It’s late, we have all been up since early morning, and many of us were running on Slim Jims and some beers from the bar (shout out to the meet director, Josh Rohr, because a bar in the meet venue was genius). Despite the exhaustion, there was electricity in the air. The 93kg class was getting down to the wire. Dave Ricks, Jesse Norris, and LS McClain were neck and neck for the 93kg National Title. After both Jesse and Dave missed their 2nd deadlifts, the door was open for LS to swoop in and steal the show.
LS came out smiling, as always, but you could see the fire in his eyes. He grabbed the bar, had great speed initially, but despite the entire crowd on its feet cheering for LS, he lost his grip at lockout. A collective, “Awwww” hummed through the venue. After his mishap, LS ran off the platform in frustration and excitement. But then he does something in true LS McClain fashion that I’ll never forget:
He came back with a smile on his face, returned to the platform, and shook every referees hand graciously. LS is the example for all to follow: class in victory, and in defeat. In a world full of bad blood and poor attitudes, USA Powerlifting has a guy like LS McClain to remind you there is still good left in the world. Thank you LS, this was one of my favorite moments this year. Keep being yourself, we are all better off for it.
Nike Air Monarch sales skyrocket after Dave Ricks Raw Nationals Performance
“WHAT ARE THOSEEE” I yell to Adam Palmer as I see Dave Ricks approach his opening deadlift. Were my eyes deceiving me? Was this really happening? Yes, it was: Dave Ricks was rocking Nike Air Monarch’s and geriatric tube socks for his deadlifts. Not just any Nike Air Monarch’s, I’m talking the same shoes your old man mows the lawn in, the same shoes your middle school football coach wore, and the same kicks that make 65year old ladies swoon; the all white Nike Air Monarch IV’s.
To make this moment even more sweet, Dave pulled 310kgs/683lbs in them as a big “Screw you” to all the lifters who obsess over what gear is most “optimal”. Strong is strong, and Dave Ricks is stronger than you wearing whatever he wants
Those cookies. And that World Record. (Bryce)
Bryce Lewis loves community and he walks the walk every year when he brings homemade cookies to share in the warmup room. I experienced this for the first time in 2014. It has been almost 3 years since our inaugural friendship cookie and I have since been fortunate enough to have had 2 more Lewis cookies. Since 2014, Bryce and his baking skills have taken him from the 93kg weight class into the 105kg class, and it has paid dividends. This year Bryce set the World Record total at 105kg at the Arnold Sports Festival and then won his first National Title by pulling for the win at Raw Nationals. The world is excited for Bryce in 2017. Not only has his total improved since becoming a full 105kg, but Bryce’s cookies are more flavorful (and likely less macro-friendly). It seems 105kg Bryce Lewis has been a gift to all of us for bigger lifts and even bigger cookies.
Liane Blyn defies logic
Typically, when people enter their 40’s, they are entering the phase of life where things slow down and it is time to begin thinking about retirement and membership in AARP. That’s not the case if you are Liane Blyn! Liane stormed into this year with a vengeance. She had her eyes on a World Games berth, but first she had to win Open Nationals in Aurora, Colorado. Liane’s record-setting performance was a sight to behold. The wily, old veteran executed and lifted at the highest level and set multiple Open American Records that day. Liane went on to win her 2nd Open World Championship in November to round out one of the most impressive years we have seen from a female.
Joe Cappellino…because Joe Cappellino
Who doesn’t love them some Joe Capp? The answer is: quite a few people. Regardless of your feelings toward this often-misunderstood kid from Boston, you must respect this lifting. This year Joe became one of the few humans to squat over 1,000lbs. He won a silver medal in the IPF, and he secured his spot in the World Games while totaling over 2500lbs. “The Girth God” as he is affectionately called by the masses is arguably the most entertaining lifter in our ranks. He is loud, he is proud, and he is strong. At his core, Joe is a diehard powerlifter and supporter of USA Powerlifting. Joe makes powerlifting interesting and is a joy to watch on the platform. It’s never a dull moment when Joe is around.
John Haack with the W
“Haack, Haack, Haack, Haack…” the crowd chanted as it got into a frenzy as John Haack approached the bar to seal the win for USA over the reigning World Champion Brett Gibbs. This matchup felt like a WWE showdown for a pay-per-view. For months leading into Raw Worlds John Haack vs. Brett Gibbs was the most exciting thing in powerlifting. The actual battle lived up to the hype, and then some. This showdown gave me hope for powerlifting and what it could potentially be one day. You could feel the excitement in the air all session long. The venue was full and the crowd was bought into what was going on between Haack and Gibbs. This is the kind of rivalry and hype that can help turn powerlifting into a more entertaining and viewer friendly sport.