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American Open 2016 Thoughts
It’s once again Meet Week. We have high hopes for our team, and we are looking forward to seeing our friends from around the country. Unfortunately it looks like I won’t make it this year. My wife is expecting another boy at any minute, and of course I am not going to miss the birth of my child. However Coach Don McCauley and Coach Vinh Huynh are incredible coaches, so the athletes are in good hands.
This year we are sending 24 top-notch athletes to the American Open. Two of our very best athletes are sitting this one out: Jacky Bigger and Dylan Cooper. Jacky just had surgery on her ankle to repair a stress fracture, and Dylan is healing up from multiple nagging injuries including knees, back, and hips.
The Olympics are four years away, so there is no better time than right now to give these athletes a little rest and get them healthy. I want to win the American Open as much as anyone, but I care more about the long-term goals of these athletes. A coach must always keep an eye on the big goal instead of worrying about each individual meet. Each coach should also put their athlete’s best interest if front of their own.
Morgan McCullough gets us started on Thursday evening in the Youth portion of the American Open. His openers will be American Records in his age and weight category, so we are hoping for a big start from him. This kid is about to light the weightlifting world on fire. I have never coached a kid that could move like him at that young of age not to mention he already back squats 400lb.
Nadeen Pierre is another youth that will compete on Thursday. She is new to our National Team, and she trains out of Undisputed Strength and Conditioning in Eagan, MN, which is the home of Mash Mafia MN. We have high hopes that she will be making some International Teams here in the near future.
Our starting lineup for the Senior Team looks like this:
Mattie Sasser will be kicking off things for our team in the 58k A Session. She will have her hands full with Jessica Lucero, but we have high hopes for Mattie. She is 19-years-old, and was an Olympian in Rio for the Marshall Islands. Luckily for Team Mash Mafia, she has dual citizenship. In training she has matched the American Open Snatch of 93k, and she has Clean & Jerked 121k, which is 6k over the American Record. This should be a fun session to watch.
Danielle Bloomquist is also a 58k lifter. This is her first time being a part of the Mash Mafia National Team. I have high expectations from her not to mention Mash Mafia OG Rebecca Gerdon coaches her.
Adrianne Acosta is another new member to the Mash Mafia National Team. She also trains with Mash Mafia MN in Eagan, MN, and she is about to shock a lot of people in the 63k category. I believe that she is one year away from giving a run at some International Teams, so keep an eye on this girl. She is in the A Session, and I could see her making a run at the top 5.
Rebecca Gerdon (75k class) makes her return to the National Stage at the American Open. She took some much-needed time off from the Olympic lifts to prepare her body for this next quad, but I still have high hopes for her. She is a National Medalist and a Team USA Member, so you can never count her out.
Genie Francisco (75K) is also new to the Mash Mafia National Team, but she is familiar to all of us. Jon North was coaching her when I first met her. She has a lot of potential in this sport, and we are excited to watch her blossom over the next few years.
Tori Brady (90k+) is competing in her first National Meet at this year’s American Open, and it’s her 4th meet ever. Tori could easily medal in this group, but that’s not my main concern. I want her to get experience and have fun. I have high expectations for her over the next four years.
The Men’s Team kicks off with Brian Risenhour in the 56k class. This young man should give a run at the medals and some American Records. His training has gone perfectly, so now it’s a matter of performing on the platform. Brian should be an International Team member within the coming year. He also joins us from Undisputed Strength and Conditioning (Mash Mafia MN). Obviously if you are near Minneapolis, you need to be training with this crew.
Tri Phu (69k), also from Mash Mafia MN, is a veteran on our team. This is his first time moving up to the 69k class, but he is a strong competitor. I could easily see him break into the top 10 this time. However as soon as he grows into this new class, I look for him to get back on the podium.
We have two men competing in the 77k class: Mason Groehler and Jacob Wyatt. Mason should make it to the podium, but you can never count out Jacob. He’s coming off a 6th place finish at Nationals, so he’s getting hungry for the podium. I am excited to watch both of these young men battle. Mason has gone 140k+ and 170k+ in training, so he could put up something huge.
Collin Worm joins our National Team for the first time, and we have huge expectations. He has gone 150k and 180k in training. If comes close to those numbers, he should find himself high on the podium.
The 94k Class is stacked with two of our top lifters: Nathan Damron and Tom Summa. Both could end up on the podium, and both could make a Senior International Team within the next year. Both are former Youth and Junior Team USA Members, and now it’s time to unleash them on the Seniors. Nathan should be battling for Gold. Both of them will be taking some cracks at the Junior American Records. I totally expect those records to fall.
Anthony Sannella (105k) joins our National Team for the first time. This young man is going to shock a few people this year. I could see him in the Top 5 this year, but I expect him to stand on the podium very soon.
Here’s the list of our other athletes that will be taking the stage:
Bryan Simone 85k
Steve Yanda 69k
Hunter Elam 63k
Katy Davis 69k
Nadeen Pierre 69k Youth
Justin Eberhart 69k
Curvan Williams 94k
Jeffrey Blackwell 94k
Grant Debendictus 105+k
I have high expectations for my entire team as always. However this is the first National Meet in this Olympic Quad, so I want to see made lifts and confidence soaring more than anything else. It’s going to be a long quad, so each National Meet is a time to teach, learn, and grow. I hope that all of you will enjoy watching these competitors do what they love.
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