It’s that time again, boys and girls. The nation’s best have converged on the World Center Marriott in Orlando, FL for the USAW American Open Championships. Coming off of the 2016 Olympics some of the big names may be sitting this one out for some much deserved mental rest or to heal up minor scrapes, bumps and bruises from a grueling quad. But there is no shortage of talent at this year’s event and a preview of the final start list is in order. Now before anyone gets up in arms over the prediction, know that this is my opinion alone and it’s simply that. As always ladies first, so enjoy!
48 kg Class
While 2016 Olympian Morghan King usually lifts as a 53 at national meets, she is the queen of this class for the moment. But that does not mean there isn’t going to be some great lifts on display. Predictions are:
1. Kathleen Winters, Kathleen is the vet of the group making international teams as well as collecting several national medals. Experience is the key to success at these meets and I expect her to finish on top of the podium.
2. Alyssa Ritchey, while she has the top total of the group, this is her first national meet and those who’ve competed before know that the national experience is a bit different from the local competition. She’s a high level crossfit athlete and 2x NPGL champ with the DC Brawlers, so the big stage is not a foreign concept to her. Her Coach, Max Aita, will have her primed and ready and she could make some serious noise in the class.
3. Hayley Reichardt, she is quite the accomplished Youth and Junior lifter, and it may be a bit early, but expect her success to transition well to the senior ranks. Look for that experience factor on the big stage to serve Hayley well and possibly land her on the podium.
53 kg Class
1. Cortney Batchelor, she dropped from 58 to 53 at the Trials and put up the same numbers as the higher weight class making her a force to be reckoned with in the 53’s. Should be a solid day for Cortney.
2. Jourdan Delacruz, A junior lifter with the 2nd highest entry total. Another lifter with national level experience that will help her navigate the field to a podium spot.
3. Snow Charpentier, 3rd highest total of the group and a member of Catalyst Athletics. Coaching can be a big game changer at national meets, especially when picking attempts wisely to avoid the log jam of athletes and put you in the best spot to win.
58 kg Class
1. Jess Lucero, she’s been a mainstay at the top of this class and I don’t expect that to change. She’s an experienced lifter and member of several international teams with the American Records to her name as well. Looking forward to seeing Jess compete.
2. Mattie Sasser, not sure if she’s able to medal because of dual citizenship but she has put up some big lifts in training. Definitely the most interesting lifter to watch in this class.
3. Sarabeth Philips, multiple time AO medalist and Crossfit/NPGL star, Sarabeth thrives on competition. She should have a great showing and will round out the podium if all goes according to plan.
63 kg Class
1. Maddy Meyers, most experienced on the national stage of the bunch and as long as she makes lifts should have her podium spot locked up.
2. Heather Farmer, don’t know much about her, but her high entry total and listing her coach as “myself” was enough for me to give her a nod.
3. Jordan Weichers, I’ma bit biased towards my Cal Strength family and have seen some of her training lifts as of late. Coach Dave Spitz will have her ready to go and she could easily find herself on the podium with a good day.
1. Mattie Rogers, enough said.
2. Danielle Hudes, multiple time medalist and national level experience will be enough for Hudes to get back on the podium.
3. Amanda Miller, the 2016 University National Medalist is in a good position total wise with a lot of other lifters. With a consistent performance and some help from others she could find herself on the AO podium.
1. Amy Hay, one of my favorites in the class. She has become a force in the class and with Greg Everett calling the shots for her I don’t see any issues with her finding herself on top of the podium.
2. Sam Poeth, even though she’ll end up 3rd in the “Quad Off” I expect her multiple time international team experience to serve her well and land her back on the podium. With a slip up or two, she could find herself back on top of the podium but nevertheless could be a great battle between her and Hay.
3. Tayler Stallings, places 3-9 on the start list are seperated by 7 kilos so I expect coaching to come into play big time here. Tayler is one of my favorite strength athletes (Record setting powerlifter and 2x NPGL Champ with the DC Brawlers) and has Danny Camargo in her corner. Hold on to your butts when figuring who will round the podium.
90 kg class
Brand New Class so a bit of a shot in the dark on this one.
1. Sarah Hopping-Estrella, multiple-time medalist as a 75, finally gets a class that fits her better. She should be a mainstay on future podiums for this class.
2. Emelie Parker, another experienced lifter who fell in that tweener group of 75-75+ now has a home. Without a hard weight cut or trying to bulk up for the class above, she should be able to just go out there and lift. Also has the second highest total so there’s that as well.
3. Samantha Kleinschmidt, 3rd highest entry total by a ways, so with experienced coaching in her corner she should round out the podium for the new class.
90+ kg Class
1. Marissa Klingseis, hands down the favorite. After her gutsy performance at the Olympic Trials, I expect she will be in the podium mix for many years to come with Olympian Robles.
2. Emily Malinowski, fellow Chicagoan so of course I’m rooting for her to get a medal in this class. This one is also heavily based on experienced coaching in her corner.
3. Tori Brady, the Mash Mafia lifter has been putting up some great numbers in training and I expect those to carry over to the meet. Should be a great showing for her at the national meet and with a consistent performance I don’t see why she wouldn’t round out the podium.
Again, these are just predictions and anyone who has been to a national knows that anything can and will happen at a national meet. A complete unknown can come in make lifts and find themselves on the podium. When it comes to a national meet, the keys to success (as they should be for every meet) are 1) Make your openers and build confidence going from there. 2) Make 2/3 lifts in each event and give yourselves a fighting chance–going into your 3rd lift 0/2 is not helping anyone out. 3) Make sure your coaches or backroom help know the rules and how a meet works. Nothing is worse than losing out on a a chance to medal because of not knowing the rules. 4) Worry about you and you alone. You can’t control what other lifters do, only your attempts and whether or not you make them. If this isn’t your strong suit, get someone in the back room that can help you with that. You get 4 people back there with you, so use them wisely. 5) Have fun, you worked way too hard for this opportunity so enjoy the moment while it’s there. Before you know it, you’ll be back home preparing for the next one.
Now on to the boys.
56 kg Class
1. Michael Fox, Team Juggernaut’s “Pocket Hercules” has the highest entry total and should be the odds on favorite for the title, but you never know with new talent being introduced into these smaller classes each meet.
2. Brian Reisenauer, speaking of new talent. He posted some pretty impressive lifts for the Crossfit Lift Off, and if he can duplicate those on the national stage, things could get interesting for sure.
3. Andrew Cheung, honestly I don’t know much about him, but his entry total is quite a bit above the rest of the field so you can’t exclude him from the podium
62 kg Class
1. Derrick Johnson, American Record Holder and double bodyweight in the snatch. Barring the weight cut not being too rough on him, preventing lifts to be made, he should be the top dog. But as I’ve said time and time again, you never know.
2. Sean Hutchinson, Mr. Consistency in the class. I’m not sure the last time I haven’t seen Sean get a medal in national event in this class. A solid day will allow for him to keep that trend going.
3. Aaron Adams, going to keep this podium all old school. Aaron and I did a webcast two years ago, and I’ve been waiting to see if he would get back on the competition stage and it seems my wait is over. Given his experience in competition, as long as he’s consistent in making lifts, I see him getting on the podium.
69 kg Class
1. CJ Cummings, really? Who did you think I would put here? The question isn’t if he’ll win, but if he’ll extend his unreal youth and junior records even more.
2. James Corsito, with the amount of national level experience, I expect to see James make his lifts and end up on the podium for this class.
3. Aaron Addison, experienced coaching will help Aaron duplicate his entry total and wind up on the podium for this year’s competition.
77 kg Class
1. Yadier Quesada, big entry total and watched him in the warm up room yesterday. Really excited to see what he puts up on the competition stage.
2. Alexander Yony, another big entry total who can give Yadier a run for his money with some missed lifts. This will be a great battle to watch if it materializes.
3. Harrison Maurus, CJ and Harrison are the two shining stars of our young talent. They have been pushing records to unfathomable heights and I expect to see Harrsion knocking on the door of some senior records soon. He recently hit a 191 Jerk in training that looked easier than it should’ve for the youngin’. Hopefully the older lifters can give him the push and adrenaline needed to hit some huge lifts.
85 kg Class
This is going to be the hottest contested class to watch in my opinion so I’m giving you a group of 5 because the class is that much of a toss up.
1. James Tatum, I never bet against my former teammate and buddy. He moved up to 85’s after the trials and has continued to produce solid lifts at each national meet. It’s going to be a tough go of things but I still see James on top of the podium when the dust settles.
2. Anthony Pomponio, his progress in the last four months has been awesome to watch. If you don’t follow Pomp on social media you might want to start. I look forward to seeing multiple lifters in the class hit 160/180+ with Pomp being one of them. The best thing about this class is one missed lift and the order of placing can be completely turned upside down.
3. Travis Cooper, normally a 77, Travis is lifting as a 85 to let his body rest a bit from the previous quad. With a big clean and jerk, I wouldn’t rule out Travis taking the top spot. He’s 3rd based on conservative guesses.
4. Charles McDonald, a young lifter with no lack of strength on his side. As said before, a few slip ups and we can see him sneak up the ladder and make the podium.
5. Frankie Murray, see above. But with a ton of national meet experience under his belt and carefully picked attempts, he could end up on the podium as well.
As said before a missed lift here or there and the whole order can be jumbled up. This is the class I am most looking forward to watching this weekend, sorry big guys.
94 kg Class
1. Colin Burns, I expect Colin to have a big meet, possibly pushing the American Record in the snatch up another notch. With his recent improvements in the clean and jerk under Max Aita, I see a well-rounded performance placing him on top of the podium.
2. Nathan Damron, the big lifts are well known and a lot of people have him listed as the Dark Horse to beat Burns. But with that said, he will need to do better than 2/6 or 3/6. Now calm down, I’m not hating. I love watching Damron lift, but facts are facts: you need to make lifts to win and in order to beat someone of Burn’s caliber that is exactly what needs to happen.
3. Rob Blackwell, another Cal Strength buddy and consistent lifter. I’m really glad he’s found his jerk again and this will help push his total even more solidly positioning himself as a perennial podium finisher.
105 kg Class
1. Wes Kitts, no questions asked please. He’s another one that’s put up big lifts and barring a tough weight cut I see him finishing on top here. Interested to see if any American Records will fall.
2. Asniel Jimenez, another foreign lifter I watched yesterday easily power snatch 140, so I expect him to duplicate or better his total giving Wes a push. Can’t wait to see him lift, either.
3. Andrew Davis, never bet against the hometown guy. I watched Drew power clean 200 at his first nationals and have rooted for him ever since. Hometown crowd, not a ton of traveling, and some extra adrenaline to perform in front of friends and family could get Drew on the podium.
105+ kg Class
1. Caine Wilkes, the perennial King of The Big Men. Snatches over 400 and clean and jerks over 500, can’t really argue with that.
2. Ethan Harak, normally a 105 but making the jump up to the big boys. Really interested to see what he hits with no weight cut to deal with.
3. Michael Kreatsoulus, a consistent medal finisher in the class. Without any major mishaps I don’t see this trend being bucked this year.
So there you have it, The Strength Agenda’s predictions for the 2016 American Open. If you are near the venue, please get out and watch some great lifting. Team Florida did a bang up job with the meet and watching a meet live you see all the little things that go into each attempt that you might miss on the live stream. But if you aren’t near here check out USAW’s link for the live stream here.
As always keep in mind anything can happen, root on the start of our next quad of lifting, and thanks for reading.