USAW Olympic Trials/National Championships Recap
First I want to say how much that I enjoy seeing all of my friends when I travel. Weightlifting is about a lot more than just lifting weights. It’s a fraternity of people that enjoy defying gravity with a barbell. We somehow understand each other. This weekend I got to hang out with my friends Spencer Arnold, Vinh Huynh, and Adee Zukier. We had such a great time hanging out, laughing, and learning from each other.
If a weightlifter only looks at progress as the key to happiness in the sport, there is going to be a lot of sadness. I want progress from my athletes more than any other coach that I know, but I also want them to look around and enjoy everything about the sport. An athlete’s time to shine in this sport is like a blink, and then it’s gone forever. I don’t want my athletes to waste one day of this amazing time in their lives. Remember weightlifting is about:
• Friendships formed around the barbell
• The daily grind with teammates
• Traveling to meets with teammates and coaches
• Seeing new places
• Hanging out at meets with people from all over the world
• Celebrating the wins and losses
• And yes setting PRs, crushing records, and winning!
Notice that the PRs, records, and winning are only one part of the equation. This weekend, we had a lot of ups and downs. Yes we had some Gold Medals, PRs, and excellent performances, but we also had the poorest performances as a team. I am not going to make excuses for any of us. However, I will say that I learned a lot. Truth is that I learned more from this weekend than any of our previous awesome performances.
One call that was probably not smart on my part was having my three boys Nathan, Tom, and Dylan compete a week after the Junior Pan American Championships. It’s not that they can’t take going heavy two weeks back to back. It’s the fact that the Junior Pan AMs drained us emotionally. I say “us” because I have to admit that I was drained to. We had prepared to deliver our best performance in El Salvador, and that’s exactly what we did.
We got off the plane in Salt Lake City, and none of us had that normal excitement that comes along with the National Championship. Not to mention that all of us were still sick from the water in El Salvador. Needless to say none of my Junior lifters performed up to their capabilities. There were a couple of bright spots with Nathan hitting a PR Snatch in the 85k Class of 151k/332lb earning him a Silver Medal, and Tom hitting a meet PR Clean & Jerk of 175k/385lb.
Our team has been on fire for the last year with unbelievable performances at the American Open, Arnold Classic, Junior Nationals, and the Junior Pan AMs. All that I can say is that we were due for a not so great performance. At least that’s all that I can figure right now. Our team still placed Third overall in the United States, so that’s pretty cool. We had two bomb outs, several below average performances, and we still beat a lot of great teams. I am taking that as a positive.
We have been very fortunate with aggressive openers for the last several years that I have gotten used to just letting the guys go for it. This weekend, I noticed several times that people were looking crisp. I should have lowered some openers, but I let them go out anyways. That’s my fault! Look I am not going to ever be the coach that says I am perfect. I am learning everyday. I learned a lot this weekend. I won’t make the same mistake again.
We did have three unbelievable breakout performances, so there were some bright spots. Jacob “Rabbit” Wyatt had the meet of his life. He has always had the ability to be one of the best weightlifters in the country, and this weekend it happened. He hit a meet PR Snatch of 125k, meet PR Clean & Jerk of 155k, and a monster 10k meet PR total of 280k.
Jacky Bigger crushed a meet PR Snatch of 83k, meet PR Clean & Jerk of 105k, and a 7k meet PR Total of 188k. She’s capable of way more, but she needs to get used to her new capabilities. Then she will be really hard to beat.
Caine Wilkes was a superstar as usual. He Snatch 175k, and Clean & Jerked a massive 229k/504lb. He took Gold overall, and he earned a spot on the Senior Pan Am Team. That keeps his Olympic hopes alive, so the entire team is praying for him. His father, Coach Wilkes, is a massive asset to this team. He worked his butt off this weekend for each and every athlete, and he has an amazing ability to put some pretty hard coaching cues in very simple terms.
Don McCauley was in top form as always. As you guys know he is my mentor, and I am dang lucky to have him coaching on this team. He loves these lifters, and he pours his entire soul into making sure that the athletes get everything that they need. I’d say that he has the best eye in the sport. I continue learning from this man each and every day.