The 2017 USAWA Grip Championships took place on Saturday, February 11th, at Al Myers’s Dino Gym in Abilene, KS. It was a spectacular contest – like it has been every year Al has hosted it.
I went home with my lowest placing in a USAWA grip contest. But the day was not a total bust. I got to spend it with Carrie (my wife) and Josie (my daughter, AKA: Tiny Overlord)! Josie enjoyed herself in the gym and she was pretty entertaining during some of the attempts where she mimicked my verbal encouragement. Her sweet little voice shouting “Smoke it!” or “You can do it!” was pretty hilarious to everyone, as far as I could tell.
My minor injury from two weeks before the contest – badly torn middle finger skin and deep bruise of the area that was torn – turned out to have a major negative influence on every lift of the day. I had prepared myself beforehand for a dismal placing overall. But I had hoped that my skin had healed enough to haul up a 320 pound Middle Fingers Deadlift. I hauled it up…only to have it pop out of my fingers a half-second before the down command was given. It tore the same spot that was previously torn and didn’t stop bleeding until about 10 hours later.
Here are the events in order:
- Pinch Grip
- Deadlift – Fulton Dumbbell, One Arm
- Deadlift – Fingers, Middle
- Hack Lift – Fulton Bar
The Pinch Grip went better for me than it ever has before. Front hang was permitted and was not something I had used in a USAWA contest before. Although, I have only done the Pinch Grip (2 hands) in a USAWA contest once before Saturday. Front hang resulted in me getting a 206 pound success. The results haven’t been posted yet, so I don’t know where I placed in this event. My goal was 180 pounds. So 206 pounds was a nice surprise. My right middle finger was in pain by the second warmup lift on this event. I passed on my 3rd attempt to try to dull the pain in my finger before the next event.
The 2″ Dumbbell Deadlift was a bummer for me. I lifted 150 pounds with no trouble. I felt quite a bit of pain in my right hand where it was badly bruised on the middle finger two weeks before the contest though. But I thought I could just squeeze through the pain for my next heavier attempt. I was wrong. 175 pounds came up to legal deadlift height on two attempts. But I couldn’t hold it for the required pause, so I missed both attempts. In hindsight, I should’ve done this event with my left hand. That cost me at least 25 pounds in the total.
The Middle Fingers Deadlift was a catastrophic event. It cost me a much higher placing overall. My finger hurt horribly even on the 135 pound warmup pull. I did 225 pounds as a first attempt. That felt terrible. No surprise. I talked it over with my wife and she said something to the extent of “If you’re going to tear your finger again, you might as well do it on something big.” That mirrored my remark about “going big or going home” – at least on that event, since it was my strongest event of the contest. Or it was my strongest, pre-injury. I called for 320 pounds as my second attempt. Pulled it to full lockout and the bar just blasted out of my fingers a half-second before Al gave the down command. I was so disappointed in myself for that failure. I lost 95 pounds in the total on that lift. Not to mention the pounds that it would take off the final event.
I debated just throwing in the towel after I tore the hell out of my middle finger again. It bled all over Al’s yard. I taped it up and eventually talked myself into doing a token opener of 220 pounds on the next lift…both my left and right middle finger tendons were TWANGED badly when that bar shot out of my fingers. I couldn’t even make a fist on either hand. It was two days before I could make a fist with either hand, that’s how much my tendons were banged up from that fail.
Axle Hack Lift went much better than I expected it to after my middle finger injury. I couldn’t squeeze with my left hand after the tendon twanging fail on the Middle Fingers Deadlift. What I did was just basically shape both my hands into a cup – kind of a “GI Joe Kung Fu Grip” type hand shape. Then pulled the weight that way. There was one funny moment on my 220 pound opener when for some reason (I think it was because I was still lamenting the skin tear and failed Middle Fingers Deadlift attempt) I faced AWAY from the judge – Al Myers – when I did the lift. That meant that my ass was essentially right in his and everybody’s face when I did my lift. I didn’t even realize what I had done until the lift was over and he politely told me that next time it would be better if I faced him when I did the next attempt, haha!
I also thoroughly enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting a few new faces at the contest. That always makes these contests so much fun. No matter what the eventual placing might be.