Hampton Roads came alive August 3rd through 6th as top AAU Junior Olympic Games athletes battled for records and bragging rights at a series of AAU Strength Sports events.
On Monday, the top junior powerlifters in the nation mixed it up on the lifting platform. Jets Barbell, based in Shreveport, LA, brought nearly 20 athletes to the competition, and Project Lift, from North Carolina, brought another 16 competitors.
In girl’s powerlifting, nine-year-old lifter Damiyah Smith, who came with her parents from Oklahoma to compete in her first JO Games, excited the crowd by setting world records across the board, with a 45.5 kg squat, 25 kg bench press, 61 kg deadlift and 128.5 kg total in the 77 lb. class.
On the other end of the spectrum, sixteen-year-old newcomer Morgan Reynolds came from California and registered some amazing world record numbers in the 16-17, 198 lb. class, with a 152.5 kg squat, 72.5 kg bench press, and 170 kg. deadlift, totaling 395 kg at 193 lbs. bodyweight.
In boy’s powerlifting, Eric Boomershine returned to the JO Games from Ohio, and registered big lifts of 185 kg in the squat, 170 kg in the bench, and 235 kg in the deadlift for a 590 kg total in the 20-23 year-old, 242 lb. class. Five-year-old Jets Barbell team member Jase Lazarus, from Shreveport, Louisiana, weighed in at a whopping 39 lbs., and managed lifts of 8.5, 6 and 15 kg for a 29.5 kg total in his first meet. Sixteen-year-old Evan Pittman, of Arizona, returned to claim his seventh JO Games powerlifting title, going 11 for 11 on the platform with a 165 kg squat, 97.5 kg bench press, and 201 kg deadlift at 145 lbs. bodyweight – good enough for three world records. Fifteen-year-old Jordan Howard, from project Lift, benched 110 kg at 194 lbs. bodyweight, and was awarded the 2015 AAU JO Games Powerlifting Joel Ferrell Award.
Jets Barbell #1 captured top team honors, with Total Fitness Power Team in second, and Jets Barbell #2 capturing third place. In the bench press only team competition, Project Lift from North Carolina finished first.
Immediately following the completion of powerlifting, AAU Strength Sports volunteers worked vigorous to reconfigure the lifting and warm-up areas for two days of AAU Weightlifting. More than 70 athletes from all over the U.S. came to battle.
In the girls’ competition, thirteen-year-old Emma Nye registered a 44 kg. snatch, 54 kg. clean and jerk and 98 kg. total in the 44 kg. class to claim 13 and under best lifter honors. Sixteen-year-old Morgan Reynolds returned to the stage after capturing powerlifting gold and world records to do the same in Weightlifting, with a 68 kg snatch, 95 kg clean and jerk, and 163 kg total to claim the best lifter honors for 14 and above.
In the boys’ competition, nine year-old Brixton Maizels from Maryland had a great day on the platform, hitting a 21 kg snatch, 25 kg clean and jerk, and 46 kg total, to capture best lifter honors, barely edging out 11 year-old Max Crofton, of Shreveport, who registered a 24 kg snatch, 38 kg clean and jerk, for a 38 kg total in the 39 kg weight class.
Max’s brother Noah Crofton edged out two tough competitors to win the boys’ 14-15, 69 kg class with lifts of 66 kg in the snatch, 95 kg in the clean and jerk, and a 161 kg total. Brixton’s big brother, Tyler Maizels, set American records across the board in the 16-17 year-old, 85 kg class, with lifts of 105 kg in the snatch, 137 kg in the clean and jerk, and a 242 kg total – good enough for best lifter honors.
The South Beauregard weightlifting team captured the team award for the girls competition, and boys 12 and up; Jets Barbell won boys 11 and under. Alyssa Fontenot was the 2015 recipient of the Weightlifting Joel Ferrell Award.
The final day of strength sports competition saw a diverse group of athletes, with a variety of runners, throwers and other athletes joined by traditional weightlifters and powerlifters rounding out the field of competitors for the third JO Games All-sports combine and Feats of Strength competition.
The slogan of the All-sports combine is Run, Jump & Lift, and the intent of the combine is to find the most athletically well-rounded athletes among the 17,000 kids who attend the AAU Junior Olympic Games each year. This year’s combine even featured two five year olds – Jase Lazarus and Corinne Williams, and they blasted through the events alongside their older counterparts.
In the girls’ 12-13 age group, Taliyah Mizell from Ft Lauderdale dominated the competition with her raw athleticism. In the 14-15 division, Zuri Reid from Missouri started slowly, but came from behind to win the last three events – standing long jump, medicine ball throw, and the 40-yd sprint. Nineteen-year-old Gabrielle Perryman, from the Cleveland Express team, returned to the combine competition after missing 2014, and she turned in the women’s best long jump and fastest 40 of the day to win her second JO Games combine.
In the boys’ 10-11 age group, Connecticut newcomer Luke Villaluz rose to the top of an extraordinarily competitive class, which became his to win after two-time champion Max Crofton withdrew after three events with a strained hamstring. Thirteen-year-old Zach Valentine dominated his age group, while newcomer Tyler Lummis and veteran Noah Crofton, both of Jets Barbell, battled down to the final event – the 40 – in the 14-15 age group, with Lummus winning.
As athletes powered through the final rounds of the 40-yard sprint, meet directors began setting up for three Feats of Strength events contested separate from the combine – farmers carry, tired flip, and bobsled push. By this time, many of the combine athletes had already been competing for a full day, but they soldiered on into the evening, even as AAU Karate officials began to redesign the venue for karate competition.
The final event, the tire flip, was held outside, but was truncated after one round of flips because of lightning.
Overall, the strength sports events went smoothly, and many new athletes got a taste of JO Games competition. Jets Barbell, of Shreveport, Louisiana, won first place team awards in all four strength sports events, with all of their athletes competing in multiple events over the four days.
"It was an awesome week for strength sports and strength sports athletes in Virginia,” said Martin Drake, AAU Strength Sports national chairman. “Our powerlifters continue to improve and break records every year, the weightlifting turnout was excellent, and the mix of athletes in this year's combine made for a very high quality competition. Next year's JOs in Houston should prove even better!"
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