2001 USA Powerlifting Women's National Powerlifting Championship
By Dr. Michael Hartle
The outside temperature gauge read 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the early morning hours of January 20, 2001. However, the inside temperature was a lot hotter due to the event that was beginning. The 2001 USA Powerlifting (USAPL) Women's National Powerlifting Championship was set to begin. This year's contest was being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne. The meet site was spacious and plentiful. 9000 sq. ft. provided ample room for these ladies of iron to stretch out and warm-up properly. The Meet Directors were Drs. Monique and Michael Hartle. 98 of the nation's strongest ladies descended upon Fort Wayne to show how much iron they could lift. These strong lady athletes were also trying to place themselves on various USAPL-IPF World Teams for the upcoming year.
The competition got under way at 9:00 am after the Star Spangled Banner was sung by Mrs. Margaret Pletcher. The first order of business was the 97, 105 and 114 lb classes. The different divisions that were contested throughout the weekend here were the Open, Teen, Junior and Master. Stephanie McMillian repeated her win from last year with another victory and a Junior American record in the bench press. Cathy Solan repeated her second place finish from last year with 49 years young Donna Aliminosa winning third place honors. Erin Dickey secured the win in the Teenage 2 division (16-17 years old) with some solid lifting.
In the 48 kg class, Jennifer Maile followed her father's lead at the World Master's Championships and pushed some huge numbers to win the Open and Teen 2 divisions here. She also won Best Lifter for the 44 - 56 kg classes and Best Lifter Overall!! The amazing thing is she is only 16 years old and re-set the Open American records in the squat, bench and the total. According to the numbers on the IPF page this total would place her fifth in the WORLD. Wow!!! Carly Nogle won the Teenage 1 (14-15 years old) division with Jennifer Ray - one half of the Ray twins competing at this competition - unfortunately not able to get a squat passed. Cheng-er Mehmedbasich and Ann Leverett won the Masters 1 (40-44 years young) and the Masters 2 (45-49 years young) respectively while 60 years young Judy Gedney, who is a former IPF Women's World Champion, won the Masters 5 (60-64 years young) division.
In her new weight class for the competition, 52 kg, Sioux-z Hartwig won her class with a 9 for 9 day and beating second place, Elisabeth Street, by 15 kilograms. Sioux-z had some really balanced lifting performing the powerlifting hat trick. Kimberly Goff of the infamous Louisiana Tech team, placed third in the Open with a win in the Junior division. She is someone to watch in the future. Everyone in the weight class in the Open division was in their 30's or older and she is only 20. Carmella Baqui, from Hawaii, and Sally Bowers, from Alaska, some of our farthest travelers, received 4th and 5th while Karen Gordon secured 6th place. Maura Shuttleworth also had difficulty with the squats and finished early. Jessica Ray, the other half of the Ray twins, finished in first place in the Teen 1 division. Chelsea Jacobs, Teen 2; Lisa Carroll, Masters 1; and Sally Bowers , Masters 3 (50-54 years young) each won first place in their divisions.
In probably the biggest win of her life, Ball State University and Team Indiana member Michelle Amsden used every muscle fiber of her being to push, pull, strain and sweat her way to the Collegiate American deadlift record and the Open division championship of the 56 kg class. She also won the Junior division title. Diane Siveny, from the cold state of North Dakota, took the second place honors in the Open while winning the Masters 1 division ahead of Lynn Whidden and Lanette Lopez. Brenda Howard from South Dakota received the top honors in the Masters 2 division with Natasha McLean winning the Teen 2 division. Missing from the platform was our 2000 Open Champ Sandy Mobley, who is not lifting due to a back injury. She plans on coming back very soon! Despite the injury she was there to cheer us all on and support the lifters.
The next and final class to hit the stage to finish Saturday's sessions was the 60 kg class. What a class. Eight ladies showed up to do battle in the Open division alone. 3 of these ladies had won this class at previous editions of this contest. Angie Overdeer, living 30 miles from the meet site and the better half of the President of USAPL, Michael Overdeer, won this class in 1997; Jennifer Rey, from Louisiana/Texas, 2-time National Champ and Ellen Stein, last years National Champ. Thrown into this mix was Jennifer Thompson, a bench press specialist with some other strengths up her sleeve. By the time the dust had settled on this class, Overdeer had gone 7 for 9 to grab first place with Jennnifer "Surprise" Thompson breaking an Open IPF World Record in the bench with a whopping 122.5 kg and a good deadlift to pull into second place, Stein finished third with the winning deadlift halfway up and Rey finished fourth. Nicole Sperbeck, a part of the Alaska Iron Maidens team, set a Teenage American Record enroute to winning the Teenage 3 (18-19 years old) division. Amber Mesik, of the powerful Plainwell Knights team from the frozen tundra state of Michigan, re-wrote the record books in the squat, deadlift and total winning the Teen 1 division. Also in this class were Nancy Hays, age 62, competing in the Masters 5 (60-64 years young) and Elma Beck, lifting in the Masters 8 (75-79 years young) division.
Sunday started sharply at 9:00 am with the 67.5 kg class. There were 11 lifters in the Open class, with a grand total of 19 ladies in the 67.5 class. Coming out of nowhere, Kara Bohigian went 8 for 9 and used her strong, thick legs that were shaped on the weightlifting stage over the last few years, to propel her into first place. Following behind her were Louisiana Tech standout Rebecca Roberts, Priscilla Ribic, former class champion Donna Covington and Rhonda Clark. Former class champion Paula Houston wasn't able to get a squat passed and 2 other ladies weren't able to finish the contest because of the deadly red lights. Regina Hackney, Masters 5, and Dr. Georgia Johnson, Masters 7 (70-74 years young) won their divisions.
In a repeat of the 1999 Women's Nationals, the top three place winners of the 75 kg Open class were the same: Linda Jo Belsito, Andrea Sortwell and Katie Ford. There were 10 ladies in the Open division with some great balanced lifting. Malinda Baum and Deanna Chaney tied, with Baum being lighter bodyweight. Ruth Welding and Michele Brubaker of Ball State University and Team Indiana fame were separated by 2.5 kg. Marsha Serre, USAPL Secretary/Treasurer, came back after ACL reconstruction of her knee last year and yelled her way to win the Masters 3 division.
2-time IPF Women's World Championship Silver Medalist, Leslie Look, survived some stomach turmoil to win the 82.5 Open class while re-writing the Open Total record, beating the previous record owned by her, by 7.5 kg. During the deadlift, Leslie decided to see if PJ Couvillion, Chief Referee, had quick reflexes and gave him her famous test. He passed with flying colors! Gretchen Kalk, of Ball State University/Team Indiana, easily won the Junior division. Sue Ann Pack, Masters 5, re-wrote the record books during every lift.
The second to last class being contested, the 90 kg class, saw Linda Schaefer alone in the Open division. After securing her win with her opening deadlift, she went immediately to 208 kg, a new IPF Masters World Record. She tried it on the second attempt but got three red lights. A third attempt wasn't any closer. What an effort!! She attempted the last deadlift of the contest, so the crowd was really behind her. Rebekah Rudometkin set an new Teenage American total record after a 5 for 9 day. Not too shabby! Paulette Calhoun rounded out the class by taking second in the Masters 1 class.
The last class of the day were the big and beautiful ladies, the 90+ kg class. Last year's champion, Liz Willett easily won the Open division. Only thing is it took her until her third squat to get an attempt in. She then went on to get only her opening bench. When it came time to deadlift, she put on a show, pulling up 200 kg to finish 5 for 9 and a National Champion. Another person who also had problems with getting a squat passed was Harriet Hall. Unfortunately, she was not as lucky as Liz and missed all three squats in her new weight class. Sue Hallen took second place in the Open and won the Masters 1 division over Lori Loughney. Sabrina Pledger cruised to third place in the open, just 7.5 kg behind Hallen and won the Teen 3 division.
Best Lifters: Open: 44 - 56 kg: Jennifer Maile; 60 - 75 kg: Kara Bohigian; 82.5 - 90+ kg: Leslie Look; T1: Jessica Ray; T2: Jennifer Maile; T3: Katie Ford; Junior: Rebecca Roberts; M1+M2: Ellen Stein; M3+M4: Sally Bowers; M5+M6+M7+M8: Judy Gedney. Team awards: Open: Titan; Teen/Junior: 1. Plainwell Knights, 2. Team Indiana; Combined: 1. Alaska Iron Maidens, 2. Phantom Warriors, 3. Team Indiana.
The meet ran very quickly with no injuries or misloads! We had been planning this meet for the last 2 years and with the help of Technical Secretary PJ Couvillion with some of the pre-meet preparation in regards to the IPF paperwork, it went off without a hitch. Also after many days of music threat mail from Look and Willett, we tried to accommodate the ladies with some Beastie Boys, Metallica, and AC/DC, etc. for inspiration. Thanks to Dr. Larry Miller, we were able to use his wonderful ER Racks - a phenomenal innovation in the world of powerlifting!! To compliment these were a brand new set of Ivanko plates and bar that we purchased for this meet. The awards were USA Powerlifting medals with laser-engraved plaques for the Best Lifters. Our Team plaques even had a quartz-driven clock at the top of the award. The evening of the meet we were featured on the Fort Wayne evening news and Leslie Look made the front cover of the morning Fort Wayne newspaper with a great article to boot!!
Our thanks go out to Dr. Mike Cissell, Dr. Larry Miller and USAPL President Mike Overdeer and his wife Angie for the use of their equipment; Meet Announcer Richard Duke (who did a great job even with this meet being only his second PL competition); Meet Referees PJ Couvillion, Ruth Welding, Sue Hallen, Joe Marksteiner, Greg Page, Dr. Mike Cissell, Rick Fowler, Vince White, Joe Goodhew, Dr. Larry Miller; platform managers Dr. Larry Miller, Steve Howard, Rick Fowler and Scott Macklin; spotters and loaders Big Mike Hodge, Frank Palmer, Mike Lawrence, Brian Proxmire, John Schumaker, Jhormy Martinez, Brian Kurtz, Adam Krouse, Eric "Handoff Man". A HUGE THANK YOU to the Executive Women International members who volunteered their help with this competition. Additional thanks goes out to expediters Gily Martinez, Dr. Monique Hartle, Lynn Berry; Security Cynthia Fielden, Carol Spicer, Pam Michalec, Kathy Goffer; Photographer Paul Spicer; Admissions Sarah Vetter, Susan Lees; gophers Colin and Anthony Hartle; chiropractic sports care Dr. Camille D'Amato with massage therapists Melanie Brunson and Sandra Roe. Thanks to LeeAnn Pollock and Sonya for helping us out tremendously in obtaining the Grand Wayne Center/Fort Wayne Hilton for a great meet site and catering to all of our needs. Thanks to our sponsors: Allen County Family & Sports Chiropractic, John Healy and Northwestern Health Sciences University, Open View MRI/Fort Wayne Radiology, Fort Wayne Visitors and Convention Bureau, Configurations, Indiana Physical Therapy, Grand Wayne Center, Antibus Scales, Premier Financial Group, Nutritional Technologies and Titan Support Systems. Thanks to Liz Willett for assisting us with this article. We will be putting on more National Powerlifting Championships and possibly World Championships in Ft. Wayne in the years to come. Congratulations to all the above competitors on some great lifting!! Remember, Be Healthy and Be Strong!!
Dr. Michael Hartle
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