American Open Series 2 Recap

I'm sitting here in the Philadelphia airport with a lot of time to reflect on this past weekend's lifts. All three of us had our own personal highs and lows with each of them being a learning experience for both athlete and coach.

First up in the Battle for the Cheesesteak was me. I lifted in the 85 D Session and had openers of: snatch - 93 kg and clean & jerk - 110 kg. These are quite a bit lower than they have been in the past for me as I have struggled with finding time to balance coaching, owning a gym, raising a family, and my own personal lifting. I ended up making all three snatches with my heaviest being 101 kg. Next were clean & jerks which have always been a struggle for me. I thought I was opening up conservatively at 110, but had difficulty locking out my elbows on my first two attempts and got no lifts on both. I was feeling exhausted from making weight and needed more rest time, so I moved up to 112 kg. After hearing my name called for the 6th time and having the commentator mention my age and how I was a couple of years away from being placed in the master's age group, the judges must have felt sorry for me because my third attempt felt no better than the first two, but I got the lift. I set the bar at 213 kg with Andrew up next.

Andrew lifted in the 85 C Session to close out the Battle for the Cheesesteak, with openers of: snatch - 95 kg and clean & jerk - 115 kg. Coming into the meet, we were confident in his ability to hit a 105 kg snatch and 123 kg clean & jerk. His first lift he smoked the 95 kg with a ton of room to spare. On his next attempt at 100 was close, but he let it crash on him a bit which pitched him forward as he was recovering. His elbows wobbled a bit as he walked it out and he got called on it. His third attempt at 101 was better placed, but his right elbow buckled again. On clean & jerk, the cleans were some of the easiest I've seen him do since he started lifting with us last year. The elbow issues in the snatch were still an issue on clean & jerk and ended up making the difference between having a solid first meet and not totaling. He was coming forward a bit too early in his drive for the jerk which was putting the bar out in front of him making him struggle with it rather than having it overhead where the lockout would have been much easier. We weren't able to fix the problem between attempts, and ended up getting called no lifts on all three attempts and didn't post a total. We'll be back to work to address the lockout and get him more comfortable in competition settings, and then he'll be back to win our next bet.

Cat lifted in the 90+ A Session, with openers of: snatch - 72 kg and clean & jerk - 92 kg. She has been on somewhat of a tear lately, and we were extremely comfortable with these openers. She smoked 72, but from years of throwing in track and playing rugby, Cat doesn't have the most stable shoulders, and she was called for what we assume was the judges watching her shoulders wiggle and mistaking it for her elbows to not be locked out (there's those elbows again). There was a technical stoppage for the jury to deliberate, and the decision was overturned and she was awarded the lift. She nailed 76 on her 2nd attempt, and put 80 on the bar for her third. She pulled the crap out of it with the bar nearly to her collarbones, but just couldn't get under it fast enough. On clean & jerk, she easily made her opener, but had a press out on her second attempt at 96. It was close, so we decided we would continue with our pre-meet goal of her third attempt being 100 kg. She cleaned it with several more kilos to spare, and got the jerk overhead, but again wasn't quite fast enough with her punch to get it locked out in time. Overall we're pretty pleased with her results and will continue building from there with the goal being to qualify for the American Open Finals this December.

Meets are great in that they allow you to express the hard work of the previous training cycle(s) (and win food made famous by the city you're staying in ;-) ), but they also provide you with the information you need to give a focus to your next cycle. Obviously that's going to entail working on getting a good lock out of the elbows during jerks for all three of us! My athletes bring me great joy when I get to see them demonstrate their hard work from the weeks leading up to the meet. I can't wait to get back on the competition platform with them and all of my other athletes that didn't make the trip.

Jack Gaines