US Hand Strength Championship Results

Saturday, Sept. 19 in the lair of Jedd Johnson, the 2009 US Hand Strength Championships were contested.  Absent this year was the former champion Chad Woodall.  Vying for the top spot in grip athletics this year were:

Robert Alva – California
Dave Thornton – Michigan
Jedd Johnson – Pennsylvania
John Eaton – New York
Brent Barbe – Pennsylvania
Chris Rice – Ohio
Mike Corlett – California
Frank Snyder – Pennsylvania
Mike Rinderle – Washington DC
Zach Coulter – Michigan
Andrew Durniat – Ohio

The competition started right at 10am with Grippers.  A parallel set was used this year and about everyone closed a #3 or higher gripper.  It is amazing to see where the sport of grip has progressed.  Just to have a chance at the top spots, athletes are having to close #3.5 and above grippers, truly incredible.  I finished in a tie for 1st with Frank Snyder on a 182 lbs. #3.5 gripper.  Jedd followed with a 176 and Dave on a 174, with John Eaton in 4th at 169 lbs.

The second event was the 2-Hand Pinch (2HP).  Chris Rice and myself went first because we chose to lift on the thinner 48mm width (all others lifted on the 54mm spread).  2HP is my weakness and again it showed when I topped out at 198 lbs., a disappointment for me.  Chris pulled 218 lbs., not his best lift, but still strong.  Next came the rest of the field. All pulling greater than 200lbs. were Frank Snyder (203lbs.), John Eaton (223lbs.), Dave Thornton (234lbs.) and Jedd Johnson (249lbs.).  Jedd’s lift was a new American Record and with one lift remaining he went for a new world record of 255lbs.  He pulled it from the ground but was unable to reach the 18” height needed for a full lift.  I have no doubt that he will reach this feat in competition soon.

My favorite and best event, Double Overhand Axle deadlift, was next on the list.  Zach Coulter pulled 253lbs. well within his limits, but he is only 4-5 weeks post ACL surgery and he was wise to only test it this much.  It was great to have him there competing, but he made more than a couple of us nervous with him being so fresh from surgery.  Jedd, Dave and Frank all topped out at 384lbs. leaving myself as the lone man standing.  My first lift was at 404lbs. and I finished with 455lbs.  I pulled 475 from the ground for a new record attempt but it was not to be.

The standings at this point in the competition were as follows:
Jedd Johnson – 28.15
Andrew Durniat – 27.99
Dave Thornton – 27.42
Frank Snyder – 26.63
John Eaton – 26.27
Brent Barbe – 24.35

As you can see, this horse race was tight, with numerous placings being separated by mere tenths of a point.

The fourth event was the wild card event, Weaver Stick to the Rear.  The weaver stick is a broomstick 42 inches long with weight on one end that has to be lifted parallel to ground with your hand on the other end.  It is a humbling experience, and sometimes quite painful, as the torque on your wrist gets to be truly great.  Positioning and points were VERY important and everyone was making calculated jumps in weight, with misses being costly.  In the end, the Weaver Stick results were as follows; Andrew Durniat (13.5lbs.), Dave Thornton (13lbs.), Jedd Johnson and John Eaton (12.26lbs.), Chris Rice and Mike Rinderler (11lbs.).

It came down to the last event, the 29 object Medley, and less than 1 point separated Dave, Jedd and myself.  Whoever won the medley would most likely be crowned this year’s champion.  4 minutes on the clock please…….

Brett Barbe set the mark high with 20 objects and Dave edged him by one with 21 good lifts.  Jedd and I were the final two lifters respectively and I had the advantage of knowing what I had to do because he went first.  His advantage was that they were all his implements and this was his house.  He tore through it like the grip monster he is, when the dust settled, 26 objects had been lifted, bent and torn.  It was now my turn.  It was all or nothing at this point, I had my strategy and I will walk you through it the best I can remember.

I started with the 50lbs. York Blob, went to the York 45 hub, then to the 45lbs. Fitness Gear hub, next up was an anvil with a towel around the horn (this shut down everyone else) and followed this with heavy 2” dumbbell.  I then crossed the room and attacked the 5 – 10lbs. plates and 50lbs. scale weight on its side.  While there I lifted the coil spring, small blob and slate lift.  Next I dropped down to front lever the two 8lbs. sledgehammers with coins on the heads.  Another 2” PVC dumbbell and then onto the middle grouping consisting of 2” Vbar at 250lbs., 1” Vbar at 300lbs., Slater Inch at 140lbs., Rolling Thunder at 180lbs., a StrongerGrip dumbbell and a 2.5” dumbbell earned me the chance at a bonus lift on the Inch replica which I completed.  I then finished off another grouping with the jugg lift and 2 – 35lbs. plates pinch which earned me the bonus 3 reps on the G-Rex machine.  I then went after the formidable supination and pronation bars and won the hard fought battle.

I needed one more lift to win the medley outright.  I went for the thin pinch on a resistance band.  I lifted, the band stretched, the weight broke the ground and then the pinch slipped from my grasp and rocketed back to the ground.  Only Jedd had succeeded with that lift and my confidence in my pinching abilities was not high.  I then went after the deck of card in a box.  I’ve never attempted a deck of cards, let alone in a box, but I received some pre-medley instruction from Smitty of the Diesel Crew before I began in case I needed that feat for the win.  I took my grip and dug in.  To my pleasant surprise, the cards split, but I did not finish off the deck before time expired.  Jedd and myself had tied on the medley.

The points difference between us had stayed the same and I earned the overall victory for the day.

Final Points totals:
Andrew Durniat – 47.99
Jedd Johnson – 47.23
Dave Thornton – 45.12
John Eaton – 41.12
Brent Barbe – 39.82
Frank Snyder – 38.16
Chris Rice – 38.07
Mike Rinderler – 36.91
Mike Corlett – 31.27
Zach Coulter – 29.33
Robert Alva – 25.93

It was a great competition and I hope more can make the trip next year to contest for the US Hand Strength National Championships.