Lifters will gather in New Orleans this weekend for the 2016 National University and National Under 25 Championships. While the event was originally planned to take place in Baton Rouge, it was relocated due to recent flooding. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Flood Relief to support the community of Baton Rouge as they recover.
This is the inaugural year of the Under 25 Championships, and the final qualification event for the 2016 FISU/IWF World University Championships, taking place in Merida, Mexico, in November.
Sessions will begin on Friday, September 23, and run through Sunday at the Alario Center, situated southwest of downtown New Orleans. This was the venue of 2000 Olympic Trials and will bring back competition memories for several individuals onsite. Cara Heads-Slaughter, Robyn Byrd-Goad, and Dean Goad are returning as coaches this year. Heads-Slaughter and Byrd-Goad advanced onto the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Heading into the weekend, Mattie Rogers leads the pack in the 69kg weight class. Rogers finished near the top at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials earlier this year and competed in the 2015 IWF World Championships. Fellow Trials participant Marissa Klingseis will also step up to the platform in the +75kg category. Both Rogers and Klingseis traveled to Rio de Janiero this summer as training partners for the Olympic Games.
53kg Courtney Batchelor is vying for the title in 53kg division of U25 Championships. Batchelor competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and is a former Olympic Training Center resident athlete.
A number of defending champions are returning to the stage — Brooke Tanacredi (48kg, Florida Atlantic University), Kaija Bramwell (53kg, Brigham Young University), Karla Hernandez Leon (63kg, Louisiana State University), Christian Rodriguez (77kg, East Tennessee State University), Angelo Bianco (85kg, University of Nevada), Edward Baker (105kg, University of Georgia), and TJ Greenstone (+105kg, Tennessee Technical University).
Megan Seegert (San Francisco State University) has her eyes on the 48kg title following a strong finish in 2016 National Championships. Seegert recently competed in the 2016 IWF Junior World Championships and holds several American junior and youth records.
Bramwell faces tough competition in the 53kg class from former Olympic Training Center resident athlete Jourdan Delacruz (Collin College). Delacruz competed on the 2016 IWF Junior World Championships team and holds the snatch and total American junior records for 53kg.
Former Olympic Training Center resident athlete Deirdre Lenzch (Lindenwood University) will bring her experience to the 77kg division. She has numerous international competitions under her belt, including the 2016 Junior World Championships, 2015 IWF Grand Prix, and 2013 Youth World Championships.
In the men's 77kg division, Tanner Reichardt (Kutztown University) will aim to challenge Bianco, who competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this year. Reichardt lifted in the 2016 IWF Junior World Championships and was a member of the 2013 World Youth team and 2014 World University team.
James Tatum (North Carolina School of Advanced Bodywork) brings the highest qualifying total for 85kg. Tatum also lifted in the Trials and has been a member of multiple World Championships teams.
Team scoring will occur for male, female, and co-ed teams. Returning champion Northern Michigan University looks to defend its title in all three categories.
2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Robles will be making a guest appearance before heading up to Washington D.C. to meet President Barack Obama and attend the 2016 Team USA Awards. Robles currently holds the snatch and total American University records in the 75+kg weight class.