(Council Bluffs, Iowa) – They say it’s harder to watch someone you love compete than to do so yourself.
Kelly Rexroad-Williams (Atlanta, Ga. / Unattached) got to do both on Friday as she won her second National Championship title in her afternoon 48kg session at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa and returned to watch husband Caleb Williams (Atlanta, Ga. / Coffee’s Gym) win his first National title in the 69kg division.
Sixteen years after winning her first Nationals, 33-year-old Rexroad-Williams returned to the top of the podium on Friday.
A two-time Senior World Team member, Rexroad-Williams moved up in the rankings for the 2011 World Team with her total of 163kg – a result that was not only three kilograms better than her result from the Arnold Championships in March, but also a new personal record as a 48kg lifter.
Rexroad-Williams opened the snatch portion of the competition with a lift of 70kg. As the last competitor in the division, Rexroad-Williams would follow her own lifts at two-minute intervals with no competitors to create a reprieve.
Rexroad-Williams didn’t appear to need much of a break, though, as she completed her next two lifts of 73kg and 75kg with her final lift marking a new PR in any weight division and the 73kg lift tying her previous PR as a 48kg lifter
In the clean and jerk, Rexroad opened with 88kg – a new PR for her lifts in the 48kg division and just two kilograms shy of her 90kg PR as a 53kg lifter. Rexroad made two solid attempts at 91kg, but missed her clean attempts and not complete either lift.
“I usually have a problem jerking and I really just got ahead of myself because I got up there and kept thinking that I needed to jerk 91 and I didn’t clean it, but it was a good day other than that. I always want to go out and total more and more than I did last time and I set some new PRs here, so I’m happy,” she said.
Rexroad-Williams’s 163kg total was another new PR in the 48kg division and tied her PR as a 53kg lifter. Suzanna Sanchez (Shreveport, La. / Louisiana State University Shreveport) placed second with six solid lifts and a total of 135kg. Gina Guide (Orland, Fla.), the 2010 National Champion, placed third with a total of 129kg.
With one National Championship won for the household, Rexroad-Williams paced next to the stands and yelled in support of her husband.
“When you’re lifting up there, you have control over what’s going on. It’s always harder to watch, for sure. There’s a reason why I always watch from all the way back here,” Rexroad-Williams laughed. “We train together well, but when meets come I get really anxious when he lifts and I just need to be in the audience.”
At the end of a 15-athlete 69kg session, the snatch title came down to Williams and Derrick Johnson (St. Louis, Mo. / Lindenwood Lions), a two-time National Champion in the 62kg division. Johnson lifted first and snatched 122kg. Williams made an opening attempt at 123kg and missed the lift, but completed it on his second attempt. Williams missed his third attempt of 125kg and Johnson took the lead when he snatched 127kg. On Johnson’s final attempt, however, he took the platform at 130kg, but declined to take the lift.
In the clean and jerk, Johnson took the lighter first lift of 154kg which Williams followed with a successful 155kg. Both athletes missed 160kg on the second attempt and the total gold medal rested on who could complete the final lift of 160kg. Johnson took the platform first and dropped his attempt. Williams returned to the platform as the final lifter of the day to close out the division with a good lift of 160kg and a total of 283kg – two kilograms ahead of Johnson’s 281kg total. Williams’s clean and jerk and total were also new PRs for Williams as a 69kg lifter.
“I think I actually do better under pressure and it’s good that it all came together here,” Williams said.
Ian Droze placed third in the 69kg division with a total of 262kg.
The gold medal wins for the Williams clan marked the first time in USA Weightlifting history that a married couple has won two National championship titles in a day.
“Casey and Natalie [Burgener] did it last year,” Williams said. “But it’s cool to be able to say we did it i one day.”
The Williamses are far from being the only married couple to be vying for titles this weekend, however.
Two years after become a parent to daughter Ella with her husband, two-time Olympian Chad Vaughn (Florence, Texas / Spoon Barbell Club), Jodi Vaughn (Florence, Texas / Coffee’s Gym) won her second National title in the 53kg division.
A National Champion in 2005, this meet marked Jodi’s return to the event. Due to the size of the division, 53kg was split into two sessions with Jodi competing in the morning B session that included both 53kg and 58kg lifters.
Like Rexroad-Williams, Jodi followed each of her own lifts in both the snatch and clean and jerk. After two successful lifts of 66kg and 69kg, Jodi finished the snatch with a lift of 71kg – her best results since the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
In the clean and jerk, Jodi completed her first two lifts of 77kg and 81kg, but dropped her final attempt at 81kg.
Jodi’s total of 152kg was the best result from either the 53kg or the 58kg B sessions, but it would be nearly eight hours before the A session was held and she knew what her overall result would be.
In the 53kg B session, a pair of former 58kg World Team members entered the event as the favorites in the division.
A 2009 World Team member, Hilary Katzenmeier (Shreveport, La. / East Coast Gold) moved down to 53kg last fall and has won both of her major meets at the lighter weight. In December, Katzenmeier won gold at the American Open Weightlifting Championships and followed the win with a National Collegiate title and new American Collegiate Records in April.
With an entry total of 178kg, Katzenmeier’s toughest opponent was expected to be five-time World Team member Jacquelynn Berube (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Pinnacle Weightlifting). Berube moved down from 58kg for the first time at this event and came to the Nationals with an entry total of 180kg.
At the end of the 53kg snatch session, Katzenmeier and Berube each called for 78kg as Katzenmeier was looking to improve on her #3 ranking and Berube was aiming to post a top-seven result after being ranked 13th as a 58kg lifter.
Although each athlete made three attempts at the weight, neither could complete the lift, and the result meant that neither athlete would post a total for the competition, making Jodi’s 152kg total the new number to beat.
Following her best clean and jerk of 80kg, Danielle Durante (Sunnyvale, Calif. / FIT Barbell Club) moved into second place in the total behind Jodi with a total of 147kg. Rachel Churchward (Edmonds, Wash.), who was in fourth after the snatch, clean and jerked 83kg on her second lift and totaled 146kg, to move into third. Jacque Payne (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Front Range Weightlifting) also totaled 146kg, but finished fourth overall as Churchward weighed in nearly three-quarters of a kilogram lighter than Payne.
Although both Berube and Katzenmeier were out of contention for total medals, both returned to the platform for the clean and jerk. Berube posted three good lifts with a best result of 100kg to win the clean and jerk. Katzenmeier opened with 93kg and matched Berube’s 97kg second lift, but she didn’t complete her final attempt at 100kg.
Twenty-three-year-old Rizelyx Rivera (Moorestown, N.J. / East Coast Gold) came one step closer to qualifying for her first Senior World Team after winning her first National Championship title in the 58kg division.
A 2009 Pan Am Championship Team member, Rivera dropped her opening snatch of 83kg, but made her next two attempts at 83kg and 87kg to take the lead over two-time Senior World Team member Amanda Sandoval (Ypsilanti, Mich. / Coffee’s Gym) who hit 86kg on her final attempt.
Rivera looked strong in the clean and jerk as well where she lifted 103kg and 108kg on her first two attempts. Sandoval made her opening lift of 100kg, but failed to challenge Rivera on either of her next two attempts at 105kg and moved into second place in the snatch, clean and jerk and total.
With one lift left, Rivera increased the load to 112kg – just one kilogram shy of the American Record, but she didn’t complete the lift.
“I was working hard for the record. Actually, in training, I was doing 88 snatch and 115 clean and jerk, but I hurt my back two weeks before this meet and I didn’t want to go crazy. I wanted to be smart,” Rivera said.
The mother of 6-year-old Darielyx Rivera, Rizelyx balances training for her goal of making the Olympic Team with parenthood.
“She’s an awesome kid. She understands and she cheers me up when I’m down and always cheers me on and says ‘Come on mommy! You’re the best! I love you!’” Rizelyx said. “I’ve been doing weightlifting for nine years and this is my dream to make the Olympics and she helps keep me going towards that.”
In the 56kg division, Michael Graber (Jersey City, N.J. / Team New Jersey) improved on his 2010 silver medal finish with a first-time National Championship win. Graber led Anthony Hernandez (Beltsville, Md. / Fairfax CrossFit Weightlifting) by a kilogram after the snatch with his lift of 81kg. Hernandez opened with 92kg and Graber followed with a successful 95kg lift. Hernandez lifted 97kg on his next attempt and Graber cleared 98kg. Hernandez and Graber both missed their subsequent lifts of 101kg and 103kg, respectively.
In the 62kg division, Kyle Yamauchi (Honolulu, Hawaii / Team Hawaii) successfully defended his 2010 National title.
Sean Hutchinson (Shreveport, La. / Louisiana State University) led Yamauchi in the snatch with his final lift of 115kg to Yamauchi’s 107kg. In the clean and jerk, Yamauchi finished at 130kg and Hutchinson opened with 135kg, but didn’t complete the lift after three failed attempts.
Nghiep Dingh (Long Beach, Calif. / PHAT Elvis Weightlifting Club) won the silver medal with a total of 227kg and Ryan Borges (Bradenton, Fla. / Team Florida Gulf Coast) placed third with a total of 206kg.
Competition continues on Saturday with the schedule as follows:
Men’s 77kg B / 85kg B
Women’s 63kg B
Women’s 63kg A*
Men’s 77kg A*
Men’s 85kg A*
Men’s 94kg A
* These sessions will be Webcast live at www.weightlifting.teamusa.org/live.
Top eight results for each division are as follows:
1. Kelly Rexroad-Williams (Atlanta, Ga. / Unattached): 75kg, 88kg, 163kg
2. Suzanna Sanchez (Shreveport, La. / Louisiana State University Shreveport): 60kg, 75kg, 135kg
3. Gina Guide (Orland Park, Ill. / Windy City Weightlifting): 56kg, 73kg, 129kg
4. Lindsey Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Peak Performance Weightlifting Club): 42kg, 57kg, 99kg
5. Kulsoom Abdullah (Atlanta, Ga. / Team Georgia Weightlifting): 41kg, 57kg, 98kg
6. Anne Lehman (St. Louis, Mo. / The Sports Palace): 44kg, 53kg, 97kg
1. Jodi Vaughn (Florence, Texas / Coffee’s Gym): 71kg, 81kg, 152kg
2. Danielle Durante (Sunnyvale, Calif. / FIT Barbell Club): 67kg, 80kg, 147kg
3. Rachel Churchward (Edmonds, Wash. / Calpian’s): 63kg, 83kg, 146kg
4. Jacque Payne (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Front Range Weightlifting): 66kg, 80kg, 146kg
5. Emma Gilsdorf (Onaga, Kans. / Unattached): 65kg, 76kg, 141kg
6. Rachael Bommicino (Atlanta, Ga. / Coffee’s Gym): 62kg, 79kg, 141kg
7. Melissa Kryka (Falls Church, Ohio / Unattached): 60kg, 77kg, 137kg
8. Elizabeth White (Blue Springs, Mo. / TSU Iron Dogs): 58kg, 74kg, 132kg
1. Michael Graber (Jersey City, N.J. / Team New Jersey): 81kg, 98kg, 179kg
2. Anthony Hernandez (Beltsville, Md. / Fairfax CrossFit Weightlifting): 80kg, 97kg, 177kg
3. Jared Youmans (Goodhue, Minn. / Red Wing Weightlifting Club): 76kg, 91kg, 167kg
4. Keith Connolly (Cincinnati, Ohio / Cincinnati Weightlifting): 68kg, 85kg, 153kg
5. Kevin Wu (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Front Range CrossFit Weightlifting Team): 61kg, 75kg, 136kg
1. Kyle Yamauchi (Honolulu, Hawaii / Team Hawaii): 107kg, 130kg, 237kg
2. Nghiep Dingh (Long Beach, Calif. / PHAT Elvis Weightlifting Club): 98kg, 129kg, 227kg
3. Ryan Borges (Bradenton, Fla. / Team Florida Gulf Coast): 90kg, 116kg, 206kg
4. Sean Spraggins (Englewood, Fla. / Team Florida AFP)88kg, 115kg, 203kg
5. David Luk (Cherry Hill, N.J. / East Coast Gold): 90kg, 106kg, 196kg
6. Patrick Forrester (Dix Hills, N.Y. / Metropolitan Elite): 79kg, 107kg, 186kg
7. Fred Martinez (Anthem, Ariz. / Unattached): 87kg, 93kg, 180kg
8. Kristopher Koehne (Adel, Iowa / Des Moines Strength Institute): 80kg, 97kg, 177kg
1. Caleb Williams (Atlanta, Ga. / Coffee’s Gym): 123kg, 160kg, 283kg,
2. Derrick Johnson (St. Louis, Mo. / Lindenwood Lions): 127kg, 154kg, 281kg
3. Ian Droze (Sunnyvale, Calif. / Unattached): 116kg, 146kg, 263kg
4. Gabe “Dutch” Lowy (Fort Worth, Texas / Black Box Weightlifting): 115kg, 140kg, 235kg
5. Henry Brower (Rincon, Ga. / Team Savannah): 110kg, 145kg, 255kg
6. Phil Johnson (St. John, Ind. / Unattached): 115kg, 138kg, 253kg
7. Weced Vang (Sacramento, Calif. / Hassle Free Barbell Club): 104kg, 142kg, 246kg
8. James Corsitto (Bohemia, N.Y. / Metropolitan Elite): 105kg, 137kg, 242kg
1. Rizelyx Rivera (Moorestown, N.J. / East Coast Gold): 87kg, 108kg, 195kg
2. Amanda Sandoval (Ypsilanti, Mich. / Coffee’s Gym): 86kg, 100kg, 186kg
3. Samantha Turnbull (Bossier City, La. / Team Florida Volusia County): 71kg, 90kg, 161kg
4. Stephanie Spencer (Castle Rock, Colo. / Pinnacle Weightlifting): 72kg, 89kg, 161kg
5. Becky Freeman (Albuquerque, N.M. / High Desert Athletic Club): 61kg, 87kg, 148kg
6. Veronica Aguila (San Diego, Calif. / East Coast Gold): 64kg, 78kg, 142kg
7. Amalia Litras (Austin, Texas / Coffee’s Gym): 61kg, 73kg, 134kg
8. Melissa Knourek (Dallas, Texas / Spoon Barbell Club): 58kg, 74kg, 132kg