Every coach goes into every meet with the highest of expectations. As we all know, 99% of the time at least half of those expectations aren’t met. Going into this meet, we had massive expectations. It was the most important meet in our history.
We had pretty much everything riding on this meet – Senior Worlds, Youth Worlds, Junior Worlds, and even the Olympics. This Senior World Championships coming up in November is the first meet that counts in regards to scoring for the Olympics. Basically whoever makes this first team has a huge advantage towards making the 2020 Olympic Games.
Not the Status Quo
This single meet literally changed the overall feel of being a part of this team. It’s safe to say we are all a little more proud to be a part of it. We all feel like we are a part of a team that does things a bit differently, and I think we are made up of athletes who like to go beyond the status quo. I have to assume that’s why they chose me as a coach.
Most coaches are conservative in nature, and I get that. Most athletes don’t react well during high stress situations. The goal is to get an opener in, go up a bit on the second attempt, and then a possible personal record on the third attempt. It makes perfect sense for the typical weightlifter.
However, there is nothing typical about any of my team members. This past weekend, we swung for the fences – and we hit some massive home runs.
First up was Ryan Grimsland, and wow – did he start us off. This meet was about establishing the Mash Mafia as the best team in America. It wasn’t ever about winning the American Open Series. We opened Ryan up at a 110kg snatch, just 1kg below his competition best. He missed his opener, but he spanked it on his second attempt. We then took a big jump to 115kg on his third attempt. Like the gangster that he is, he smashed it for a massive 4kg personal record.
Let me mention: Ryan dropped down to the 67kg class from the old 69kg class because he has some major goals in the youth, junior, and even senior levels (so stay tuned for that). We opened him at 138kg in the clean and jerk, and that’s where things went a bit crazy. The water cut possibly caused him to get a bit dizzy. Luckily, he regained his composure by his third and final attempt. The 138kg clean and jerk gave him a personal record total of 253kg. That also made him the number one youth athlete in the country. That was the goal all along, and we nailed it.
Then came Hannah Dunn, our latest amazing youth at Mash Elite. Hannah is in one stacked 59kg class with five athletes who could all take the spots on Team USA. Unfortunately for Hannah, we didn’t have the day we needed. I’m proud of her as she battled to the very end. Since she has been with us, we have been in competition mode. Now I will get some quality time to address some technique issues, and to strengthen her weaknesses. We are going to go to work, and we are going to create someone unbeatable.
Saturday morning was the day that many people (including me) had been waiting for. When the new weight classes were announced, it left a lot of athletes in a confused situation. Hunter Elam is one of those athletes. She was a 69kg athlete, and she was climbing the ranks quickly. With the new weight classes, we had to make a decision to go up or down. We decided to go down.
It was a bold move, no doubt. The 64kg class is the home of America’s top ranked female athlete, Mattie Sassers, along with several other top athletes. We made our decision after getting her body fat checked and after consulting several experts including Layne Norton and Andy Galpin. Both of them gave us the go ahead, so we started the process. Hunter worked with Mash Mafia’s own Jacky Simeone. Jacky heads up our Mash Eat What You Want Nutrition Program, and she does an amazing job.
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I could write an entire book about the process, but I will make a long story short. She cut the weight and entered the 64kg class. We opened at 94kg in the snatch, which she nailed. Then the story takes a bad turn. She missed the next two attempts at 97kg, putting us in a precarious position.
We needed a 215kg total to ensure her place on Team USA for the World Championships. That meant we had to have a 121kg clean and jerk. Should we open with something lighter and then try it on the second attempt? With Coach Spencer Arnold helping, we decided to go big. We took 121kg on her opener.
Now there are a few things you need to know about this 121kg clean and jerk. First, her lifetime PR is 121kg at the higher weight class. She actually lost a total of 9kg for this meet (nearly 20 pounds). Here’s another factor: she missed her last two warm ups badly.
Then she looked at me and asked, “Are we sticking to the plan?”
I answered with a firm, “Absolutely!”
She didn’t look scared at all, and I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not.
However, she went out onto that platform , stuck that 121kg opener, and locked her place on Team USA. She went two for six and hit a lifetime competition PR total of 215kg. Yes – even down a weight class, she still hit a massive personal record.
Meredith Alwine joined our team five weeks ago. In that short time she has set personal records in the snatch, clean and jerk, total, and back squat. Meredith is in the newly formed 71kg class along with Mattie Rogers. Our priority was to get Meredith on the World Team along with Hunter. Of course we wanted to win, but that wasn’t the priority. We needed a 229kg total, which is a massive total for any weight class.
Meredith’s best total coming into the meet was 221kg, so we had our work cut out for us. We opened up at 97kg in the snatch, but she missed her opener. Then we went on up to 98kg to give us a better chance at the 229kg total. Unfortunately she also missed that one, so now we were a bit worried. Well… I should say that I was worried, but she wasn’t. This is what I am talking about. My athletes seem to have ice in their veins. She smashed the third attempt at 98kg!
We opened her up at a cool 128kg in the clean and jerk, which is 3kg above her best ever. Like a boss, Meredith walked out on that platform and smashed it. Did I mention that Meredith is a junior athlete? The 128kg clean and jerk was a Junior American record, but that was just the beginning. She hit her second attempt at 131kg to solidify her spot on Team USA – and then 133kg for icing on the cake. All of these were American record clean and jerks. Her total of 131kg was also an American record, and a 10kg lifetime personal record in the total. She didn’t beat Mattie, but she did win in the clean and jerk. That’s a pretty big statement from this young lady.
Jordan Cantrell was next. There wasn’t anything big riding on this meet for Jordan, but we wanted to hit some good weights. He opened up at 155kg and hit it pretty easily. However, the lift got turned down for a press out. Just like the entire weekend, we decided to go big. We jumped up to 160kg in the snatch despite missing his opener. He missed the first attempt but crushed the second one. He went on to total 350kg, smashing the rest of the pack.
15-year-old Morgan McCullough was next, and he didn’t disappoint. He hit a 4kg competition personal record in the snatch of 125kg. Then on his second attempt in the clean and jerk he did the unthinkable by clean and jerking a new American record of 170kg. But he still wasn’t satisfied. I asked him if he wanted to jump 3kg and be safe or jump 5kg for a 300kg total at 15 years old.
He quickly replied, “Three-Hundred!”
He smashed the 175kg clean but just barely missed the Jerk. Are you starting to see the pattern for the entire team? His 295kg total was an 8kg total personal record. This kid is unbelievable.
When people think about our youth, they normally think about Ryan or Morgan. However, there is a new kid on the team. 16-year-old Jared Flaming is by far the most improved athlete on the team. At the Youth Pan American Championships just three short months ago, Jared totaled 248kg. At this meet he snatched a PR 127kg and clean and jerked a PR 160kg – for a massive 287kg PR total. Yes, that’s nearly 30kg in three months. I’d love to say I am some kind of wizard, but this kid simply needed a little direction.
Terris Roberts ended the day with a nice 125kg snatch, a PR 155kg clean and jerk for a nice PR total of 280kg. This is his first meet with us. We were mainly training through this one, but we still wanted to hit some big numbers. I think by next year Terris will be battling for medals. Terris is crazy and fits this team perfectly.
I want to say what an honor it was to coach some of the Mash Mafia Online Team, including Sam Dowgin and Carlee Fuller. You guys killed it. Sam battled for a medal in the clean and jerk, making some massive progress. This was Carlee’s first meet with us. She crushed it going five for six, so I’d say that we are off to a great start.
I also want to thank Adonis, James, and Nathan for allowing us to coach you guys. Everyone did great, but my man Adonis pulled a muscle on stage. I’m sure he will heal right up. It’s always fun getting to meet and coach our online members and watch them crush it alongside all of us.
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I also had the chance to handle Brian Reisenauer, one of our former members on Team USA. My friends from Mash Mafia MN decided they wanted to do their own thing with a club built by them. They are doing a great job, and they will always be considered family to me. Brian put on a great show, coming up a bit short for gold. However this is his first meet at 61kg. When he grows into the weight class, he’s going to be hard to beat.
As you can see, we had the most incredible meet of our lives. We did it in a fashion all our own. I would never tell another coach to be like us. We are a breed all our own. We are aggressive, and we are filled with athletes who can make those big attempts when it counts. It’s an attitude! I’m not quite sure how this team was formed, but it is truly a special group – so special that we are shutting down recruitment for new athletes for our onsite team. I have all the athletes that I can handle at our facility, and now I want to focus on getting them to the Olympics. I’m truly blessed to lead this incredible team.
Before I end this blog, I want to thank our incredible sponsors for making all of this possible. Intek Strength provides our team with beautiful bumpers, change plates, and our favorite bars, and Jason, company VP, is a real friend to the team. Along with Intek, Harbinger Fitness is our other premier sponsor. They believe in us so much that they signed an agreement all the way to the Olympics. Not to mention, they provide our favorite belts and wraps. Nathan Damron used their belts way before we partnered.
WodFitters provides our team with all the resistance bands that we use for accommodating resistance, stretching, and activation. They also provide our mobility and recovery tools. MG12 produces all of our Magnesium products that we use to keep our bodies fresh and relaxed. I personally love their bath salts for recovery. Nike Weightlifting is the company that keeps us looking better than all the other teams with our singlets and uniforms.
Is this a plug for our sponsors? Well, yes and no! I want to make a point that we couldn’t do what we are doing without the help of these fine folks. They make it all possible for our team to do the thing that they love the most. As consumers we should all frequent the companies that support the sport and the team that we all love. The more that you guys support these companies will in turn solidify the ongoing support for our sport. Who knows, maybe your team will be sponsored next.