My wife, Kim, made the trip to Ohio with me this time for the XPC Finals. In the 10 years I've been with elitefts, she's never been able to travel with me to see the compound, meet everyone, and see me compete. She wasn't too happy with the snow, but having her there seems to have helped me. My nerves were out of control and my hands were shaking at breakfast, so she helped calm me down and focus on the day. I love her dearly.


My warm-ups for squatting went exactly how I wanted them to and were the exact opposite of what happened to me last year. I opened with 975, which is the heaviest I've ever opened, and it went up smooth. I originally planned to go to 1020 on my second, but Mario and I decided to go with 1010 and it looked a lot better than my 975. We went to 1040 for my third and it felt good on my back and on the descent, but I jumped Kirschen's up call. I knew I was going to get at least one red from a side judge because of that, but hoped I'd gotten low enough for the other side judge. I didn't.

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I'm still kicking myself, because I stood up strong with it and robbed myself of 30 pounds. After this squat, the outside of my lower legs began to cramp really badly and Kirschen had to help me walk down the stairs and back to my chair. Kim took a muscle stick to me and put some ice on them to help them calm down and get the swelling to go down. It took about 20 minutes, but they finally felt better. Derek Wilcox loaned me some salt to add to my Powerade, which seemed to help a great deal too. Thanks, Derek.


I started late warming up for bench and had to put my shirt on after 315. I knew I was in trouble when Al Mehan asked me if I was opening raw since I was the only one without a bench shirt on. Mario and I quickly got my shirt on and I went right to 495 and then 515 to a two-board before I heard I was four out. When we heard that, we just headed to the stage.

I opened at 615, so it wasn't a huge jump. The bar path was good and it felt great in my hands, but was really slow coming up. Still a good lift. I also forgot there was a start command so thank goodness I took a moment to take in some air before I started down with the bar. We went to 655 on my second to match my best and it moved much better and faster for another good lift. 680 was the goal for the meet so we went there on the third. The hand off was superb, bar path felt great, touched where I needed to, and pushed as hard as I could once I heard the press call. I wasn't going to let this thing beat me again. I got the bar to lockout and squeezed as hard as I could. Good lift! A 25-pound PR, pretty much all thanks to Marshall Johnson helping me change the way I train my bench.


I was riding a high and knew what I needed to do on deadlift to get to 2400. However, I started warming up late again, so I had to get my gear on quickly and rushed through my warm-ups. I got to 495 and heard them call my name, saying I was three out. My opener was set at 675, so I was a little concerned about the jump. I headed out for my opener and it came off the floor nicely, but once I got it to lockout, I started to lose it forward. So I put the bar down without getting the down command.

I was in shock for a moment and just looked at the head judge wondering what happened. He was kind enough to let me know I didn't get the command. I went ahead and took the 675 on my second to make sure I was still in the meet. It drifted out in front of me as I pulled it off the floor, so I had to lean back and pull it back to me on the way up. I got to the top and started to rock back, but held on until I got the command. We went to 710 on my third since we knew that was what I needed to do to get the 2400 total. After some coaching from Christian Anto and a few hits from my Skull Smash ammonia, I headed out and pulled 710. It's not a PR, but it's what I needed to get my total.

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My first meet as a member of Team elitetfts was the first Lexen Pro/Am where I totaled 2325. Here we are 10 years later and I finally got to 2400. I've had to take some detours along the way, but I got there. Persistence pays off. Hopefully it won't take 10 years to get to 2500.

I want to thank Mario D'Amico for coming to Columbus to handle me. He got off at 5 AM and drove an hour and forty minutes to help me. He's a good friend and teammate. Thanks also go out to Christian Anto, Marshall Johnson, Joe Schillero, Aaron White, and Yvonna Covington for everything y'all did to help me out. Aaron had never even met me but assisted with the three-man hand off, and I can't tell you how much that helped me reach a goal of mine. Yvonna helped release an impinged nerve in my back that was causing some intense pain and helped me get through deadlifting.

Thank you to Nubreed Nutrition and Skull Smash Ammonia for all their support and confidence in me. It means a lot to me.

I got to meet some great people this weekend and see some old friends: Everly Blank, Big E and El, Jolene Ball, Chad Hammond and his wife, Bob Merkh, TJ Watkins and his wife, Travis Mash, Mark Bartley, Zach Gallmann, JP Carroll, Sandy Pants (even though we didn't get to talk), Ted Toalston, Steve Diel, Casey Williams, Yessica Martinez, Julia Ladewski, Sheri and Ken Whetham, Molly Headley, Jenn and Dan Davis, Paper, and one of my favorite people, Steve Brock. Love that guy.

Also a tidbit of info: Dave Kirschen and I first competed with each other 10 years ago at the AAPF Nationals in Lake George, New York, and Saturday was the first time we've gotten to share the platform together since then. It was an honor, Dave.

If I missed you, please forgive me. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and then get back in the gym. I'm not sure when or if I'll do another meet this year, but I'm sure Kim will make me.