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Heavyweight Titles Awarded on Final Day of Nationals

July 18, 2011, 2:16 a.m. (ET)


(Council Bluffs, Iowa) – Competition concluded on Sunday at the National Weightlifting Championships with gold medals awarded in the men’s and women’s heavyweight and super heavyweight divisions at the Mid-America Center.

Twenty-three-year-old Sarah Robles (Mesa, Ariz. / Team Arizona Weightlifting) won her third straight National title in the +75kg division with lifts that were near her personal best as she prepares for the World Championships in November.

Robles opened with a 108kg snatch before attempting to match her personal record from the 2010 Senior World Championships on her second lift. Although Robles didn’t complete the lift, she made it on her final attempt in order to win the snatch portion of the competition. In the clean and jerk, Robles made her first two lifts of 135kg and 142kg and then went for a new PR of 150kg – four kilograms more than she lifted at the National Collegiate Championships in April. Although she missed the lift, Robles’s total was two kilograms more than she lifted at the 2010 Worlds.

“I wish I could have done better. I wish could have hit the 150 because I’ve done it in training, but everyone has their ups and downs and I did better than expected.” Robles said. “I came here, obviously, to win and I did my job. I made my lifts. I was hoping to improve my total overall and I think I did a good job, but I could have done better,” Robles said.

The win solidified Robles’s position as a member of the teams that will compete at the Pan American Games in October and World Championships in November.

“I want to win at the Pan Ams and, at the Worlds, I want to get into the A session and score as many Olympic qualifying points as possible for the team and get some more experience so if I make the Olympic Team next year, I’ll already know who I’ll be up against and will have some experience competing directly against those girls,” Robles said.

At the World Championships in Paris, Robles will be joined by 19-year-old Chioma Amaechi (San Francisco, Calif.) who won the silver medal in the division after a battle for a World Team slot between Amaechi and 2010 Pan Am Team member Holley Mangold (Centerville, Ohio / Columbus Weightlifting).

Just a week after she competed at the Junior World Championships in Malaysia, Amaechi arrived in Iowa to defend her slot on the World Team.

Ranked #7 going into the Nationals and, with only seven slots available on the women’s team, Amaechi came into the weekend knowing she would likely need to improve her total of 231kg from the National Junior Championships in order to hold onto her slot.

Amaechi and her coaches watched each division throughout the weekend and, by the start of the +75kg session on Sunday, it became clear that the final slot would come down to who would place higher at the Nationals – Amaechi or Mangold.

Amaechi opened conservatively, but missed her 94kg snatch. After making her next lift of 96kg, Amaechi missed her final attempt at 99kg.

Knowing she would need to be aggressive with her weight selection, Mangold opened with a PR 103kg snatch which she followed with lifts of 105kg and 107kg – a five kilogram PR – to create an 11kg lead over Amaechi.

Amaechi lifted 125kg on her opening clean and jerk and Mangold matched the lift on her first attempt. Mangold equaled her PR of 127kg on her second attempt and finished the day with six good lifts when she finished the clean and jerk with a new PR of 130kg.

With two lifts remaining for Amaechi, the two-time Junior World Team member had a 16kg gap to make up in order to earn the World Team slot. After matching her PR of 132kg on the second lift, Amaechi went for it all on her final lift as she requested a nine kilogram addition to the bar.

When Amaechi finished the lift, her coaches Paul and Kevin Doherty (San Francisco, Calif. / Hassle Free Barbell Club) jumped into the air to celebrate their athlete’s feat and Amaechi dropped to her knees over the bar in tears as the crowd cheered.

Not only did Amaechi earn her spot on the Senior World Team, but she won the overall silver medal on bodyweight over Mangold with her total of 237kg.

Also competing in the +75kg division, 16-year-old 2011 Youth World Team member Marissa Klingseis (St. Joseph, Mo. / Wesley Weightlifters) set three new American School Age Records. Klingseis went six for six on attempts during the day and broke the snatch record with a lift of 91kg. On her final clean and jerk, Klingseis went for two more records as she lifted 114kg to set both the clean and jerk record as well as a total record of 205kg.

As always, the men’s +105kg division was one of the most exciting competitions of the weekend with 21-year-old Patrick Mendes (Henderson, Nev. / Unattached) winning the gold.

Competing at his second National Championships, Mendes has become known to Olympic weightlifters for his feats of strength on YouTube. Mendes continued to live up to the hype as he completed four of six lifts for a total of 389kg.

Although Mendes missed both his opening snatch and second clean and jerk, he led the field with his final snatch of 177kg and clean and jerk of 212kg for a total of 389kg with new PRs set for each.

“It feels great to have won. It feels like a relief. I started training Olympic lifts three years ago and now it seems like it’s finally paid off,” said Mendes who will compete at his first Senior Worlds in Paris. “I want to make the A session, do as well as I can and hopefully get a medal in the snatch ‘cause I feel like that’s my better lift.”

Iowa native Shane Maier (Northbrook, Ill. / Windy City Weightlifting) placed second in the +105 division with a total of 368kg.

After super heavyweight lifter Cameron Swart (Dayton, Texas / Team Houston) lifted 156kg in the snatch, he opened the clean and jerk with 205kg – the heaviest first lift of any of the competitors. Swart increased the load to 219kg for his last two attempts with the goal of reaching a total of 375kg which would allow him to pass Zach Schluender (Shreveport, La. / TSU Iron Dogs) on the World Team ranking list.

With Schluender unable to complete any of his attempts during the session, Swart needed to lift a nine-kilogram PR to qualify for the Senior World Team, but didn’t complete either attempt and finished third with a total of 361kg.

On the women’s side, a former bobsledder who retired after the 2010 season, Jamia Jackson (St. Paul, Minn. / Unattached) won her first National Weightlifting Championship title in the 75kg division.

Jackson went six-for-six as she completed all three of her attempts in the snatch (80kg, 85kg, 87kg) and the clean and jerk (101kg, 108kg, 111kg).

Three-time National medalist Samantha Zimmerman (Mobile, Ala. / Gayle Hatch Weightlifting Club) came to Omaha with the goal of winning her first National title, but three dropped lifts of 81kg in the snatch meant that she would not post a total. Zimmerman came back in the clean and jerk, however, and beat Jackson’s best lift with her final attempt at 113kg.

Jackson’s total of 198kg earned her the gold medal over CrossFitter Lindsey Valenzuela (Moorpark, Calif. / PHAT Elvis Weightlifting) who totaled 188kg as she prepares for the CrossFit Games in two weeks. Kristin Newman (San Francisco, Calif. / United Barbell Club) won bronze with a total of 169kg.

“I probably could have gone a little heavier in the clean and jerk, but I also wanted to play it safe. So I’m happy with the numbers I put up today,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she trained with Olympic lifts in the gym and tried competitive weightlifting on the suggestion of former Olympic Training Center strength and conditioning coach Jon Carlock.

“I already did Olympic lifting for bobsled and then one of the coaches said ‘Why don’t you try competing? You’re good at it’ and I figured, why not? John gets really into it because he’s so passionate about it that it makes you want to get into it too,” Jackson said. “So I started doing it more and I liked it. My clean and jerk’s a lot better than my snatch, but I’ve been working hard to try and get that snatch up there.”

Although she started Olympic weightlifting in 2006 and won a bronze medal at the 2007 Nationals a 69kg lifter, Jackson said it wasn’t until the last two years that she has had more time to focus on the sport.

“I started in 2006, but I was really just dabbling in it because I was going back and forth with the sliding. After the Trials for the 2010 Olympics I was able to focus more on lifting, but I still have a lot to balance because I have a job as a strength coach at the University of Minnesota,” she said.

Lifting in the 105kg division, Donnie Shankle (San Ramon, Calif. / California Strength) won his third National title and qualified for his third World Championship Team.

Although Shankle dropped two of his snatch attempts, his lift of 156kg was enough to keep him ahead of 2009 Junior World Team member Donovan Ford (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Hassle Free Barbell Club) who lifted 155kg on his second attempt.

In the clean and jerk, Shankle won the National title on his opening attempt of 197kg, but increased the weight to 203kg on his second attempt. Shankle dropped his third attempt at 210kg and totaled 359kg overall. Ford totaled 340kg after making his first clean and jerk of 185kg and missing his subsequent attempts at 193kg.

Yasha Kahn (Brookline, Mass. / Boston Weightlifting) placed third with a total of 326kg.

At the conclusion of the event, awards were given for top performances at the National Championships.

Olympian Kendrick Farris (Shreveport, La. / Louisiana State University Shreveport) and World Team member Rizelyx Rivera (Moorestown, N.J.) were named as the men’s and women’s outstanding lifters for the meet after their wins in the men’s 85kg and women’s 58kg divisions, respectively.

East Coast Gold won honors for the most outstanding men’s team and Coffee’s Gym earned the trophy for the outstanding women’s team.

Top-eight individual results are as follows, including each athlete’s best snatch and clean and jerk as well as his or total:

Women’s 75kg
1. Jamia Jackson (St. Paul, Minn. / Unattached): 87kg, 111kg, 198kg
2. Lindsey Valenzuela (Moorpark, Calif. / PHAT Elvis Weightlifting): 81kg, 107kg, 188kg
3. Kristin Newman (San Francisco, Calif. / United Barbell Club): 76kg, 93kg, 169kg
4. Evelyn Kaiwi-Hernandez (Fallbrook, Calif. / Team Southern California): 74kg, 91g, 165kg
5. Carly Mauch (Pasco, Wash. / East Coast Gold): 68kg, 96kg, 164kg
6. Angela Sorensen (Schaumburg, Ill. / Windy City Weightlifting Club): 68kg, 87kg, 155kg
7. Ashley Weber (Oceanside, Calif. / Waxman’s Gym): 72kg, 78kg, 150kg

Women’s +75kg
1. Sarah Robles (Mesa, Ariz. / Team Arizona Weightlifting): 111kg, 142kg, 253kg
2. Chioma Amaechi (San Francisco, Calif. / Hassle Free Barbell Club): 96kg, 141kg, 237kg
3. Holley Mangold (Centerville, Ohio / Columbus Weightlifting): 107kg, 130kg, 237kg
4. Marissa Klingseis (St. Joseph, Mo. / Wesley Weightlifters): 91kg, 114kg, 205kg
5. Jennifer Buckner (Albuquerque, N.M. / High Desert Athletic Club): 85kg, 110kg, 195kg
6. Shelbie Serpan (Clearwater, Kans. / High Desert Athletic Club): 82kg, 105kg, 187kg
7. Coleen Watson (Round Rock, Texas / Coffee’s Gym): 80kg, 98kg, 178kg
8. Erin Garcia (Seabrook, Texas / Team Texas): 77kg, 100kg, 177kg

Men’s +105kg
1. Patrick Mendes (Henderson, Nev. / Unattached): 177kg, 212kg, 389kg
2. Shane Maier (Northbrook, Ill. / Windy City Weightlifting: 165kg, 203kg, 368kg
3. Cameron Swart (Dayton, Texas / Team Houston): 156kg, 205kg, 361kg
4. Collin Ito (Mesa, Ariz. / Team Arizona Weightlifting): 146kg, 206kg, 352kg
5. Spencer Moorman (San Jacinto, Calif. / Calpian’s Weightlifting): 156kg, 193kg, 349kg
6. Brian Wilhelm (San Carlos, Calif. / The Sports Palace): 157kg, 190kg, 347kg
7. Jason Starks (League City, Texas / Team Texas): 158kg, 191kg, 344kg
8. Benjamin Claridad (Sacramento, Calif. / Hassle Free Barbell Club): 143kg, 165kg, 308kg

Men’s 105kg
1. Donald Shankle (San Ramon, Calif. / California Strength): 156kg, 203kg, 359kg
2. Donovan Ford (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Hassle Free Barbell Club): 155kg, 185kg, 340kg
3. Yasha Kahn (Brookline, Mass. / Boston Weightlifting): 153kg, 173kg, 326kg
4. Garrett Walters (East Coast Gold, Baltimore, Md.): 144kg, 180kg, 324kg
5. Kaleb Whitby ( Provo, Utah / Dynamo Sports Club): 130kg, 176kg, 306kg
6. Javier Garza (Brooklyn, N.Y. / LBH OF NYC Department of Parks): 140kg, 162kg, 302kg
7. Timothy McInnis (Benton, La. / Louisiana State University Shreveport): 135kg, 165kg, 300kg
8. Kyle Johnson ( Pella, Iowa / Des Moines Strength Institute): 135kg, 155kg, 290kg