This years American Open in Mobile, Alabama was a great way to end 2011 and give a glimpse of what is yet to come at the 2012 National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
USA Weightlifting asked the Chairman of the Board, Artie Dreschler, for his quick thoughts on the 2011 American Open, here is what he had to say:
"What a great competition to end this pre-Olympic year. I saw many athletes making personal records, some making American records. There were a number of very close competitions with several new stars emerging. The Barnes brothers continue excel, with Darren making credible attempts and new Youth, Junior and American Records and Darrel breaking the Youth and Jr. American records in the snatch at 62 kg. with 115 kg. There is no telling how far these wonderful brothers will go.
Derrick Johnson had a comfortable win at 69 kg. with a 282 kg. total, but his good attempts at 132 kg. in the snatch and 160 kg. in the C&J show there is a lot more in his tank. At the same time, although Caleb Williams wasn’t able to control any of his snatches, he roared back in the C&J, making a very easy clean with an American Record breaking 164 kg. followed by an easy jerk to arm’s length that he could not control for the signal. Those guys are going to have some battle at the Nationals and it may well take a 300 kg. American Record smashing total to bring home the gold medal.
The 94 kg. class was true battle royal, with the lead changing hands again and again. After John North made all three snatches to end with 158 kg. giving him an 8 kg. lead over Phil Sabatini and Ian Wilson (whose 150 broke his own Youth American Record), and a 9 kg. lead over Coard Wilkes, there may well have only been two people in the room who thought they had a chance to overtake North for the gold – Wilson and Wilkes, and they were both right. When Phil, who looked very strong but a little off technically, needed three attempts to C&J 181 kg., and North made the same weight but he was unsuccessful with two attempts at 185 kg. The door was now open for Wilson and Wilkes.
Wilson had opened with a successful 182 kg. C&J to smash his own Youth AR total of 326 kg. by 6 kg., and lock up a sure bronze medal. He then jumped to the 189 kg. he needed to beat North on bodyweight and missed the jerk behind after an easy clean. But he roared back to make that weight on his third attempt, erasing his Youth AR of 182 kg. in the C&J and smashing his just made Youth AR total by another 7 kg. – moving that record up by 13 kg. on one day!
But one lifter remained and it was Coard Wilkes, whose mission was clear – make 190 kg. in the C&J to take the gold, or be left in bronze medal position on the basis of his successful opener with 183 kg. Coard wasn’t able to make the weight in his second attempt, but he really came through on his third with a hard fought personal record 190 kg. What a battle! With Jared Fleming back in the fray at the Nationals, who knows what heights these athletes will push each other to?
Holly Mangold showed she is for real will three successful snatches ending with 114 kg. Her technique has improved immensely in recent months. She fell ill before the competition and it really got to her in the C&J, but she was able to make her opening 135 kg. C&J after looking as though she was going to black out after the clean and she had a close attempt with 140 kg. The 249 total she did make tied her with Sarah Robles for the second place ranking in the +75 kg. category at this point in the Olympic Qualifying period (though by making the total later she will be ranked 3rd). Look for another fantastic battle at this year’s Women’s Nationals/Olympic Trials when Robles, Amaechi and Mangold will all battle it out to the finish.
The men’s 105+ was another fantastic battle. Cameron Swart emerged as the winner with 368 kg. total, after a terrific come from behind C&J with 207 kg. (following a miss at 206 kg. on his second attempt). Caine Wilkes was perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet with his 366 kg. total at a mere 113 kg. bodyweight. Shane Maier managed a 363 kg. total with only three successful lifts to earn the bronze. Brian Wilhelm had the same total as Shane, a big improvement over his previous best. And he made a C&J with 204 kg. on his third attempt, which would have moved him up to a place, but the jerk was turned down by the referees. Colin Ito was close behind Wilhelm at 360 kg. . Spencer Moorman rounded out the top six with a 356 kg. total that included a new Jr. American C&J with 204 kg. Patrick Judge finished just 1 kg. behind Moorman and made a credible attempt at a 215 clean (he was credited with a 200 C&J, so he is making a strong comeback. With three more months for these guys to train, and Mendes and Schluender back in the mix at the Nationals, the heat will really be up.”