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Even though the sport of strongman is my first love, I am a fan of all different types of strength sports. I have dabbled in several of the disciplines over the years. I have done some powerlifting, an Olympic lifting meet, some all-round lifting, highlander, and Highland Games. Though I train primarily for strongman, I feel it is cool to test yourself in different areas as well.
I have competed in Highland Games almost as long as I have done strongman. The difference is that I have never really trained for it. I usually only compete in one competition a year, and I have not had much success in them. As I wrote in a previous blog, I had been training for the Orlando Show of Champions Strongman meet when an issue with my back prevented me from competing. Though my back is not 100 percent yet, it has been feeling much better, and I have been chomping at the bit to compete. I know that after our daughter is born in July, competing will be on the back burner for a month or two, so I am wanting to get one in. I saw that there were new Highland Games being held in Joplin, MO; so I decided to participate.
I talked my training partner Chris into coming out and competing with me. On the way down, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had not touched a Highland Games implement since I last competed in October. I was in the B Class, and when we got there, I found out we would be starting with the weight throws. I have never been that great at them, so I was fine with getting them out of the way. In the heavy weight, I ended up getting 25’ 1”, which was just 1 inch short of 2nd place, but was good for a PR. On the light weight, I have always been horrible. I could never get the spin down, so I have rarely tried it. Well, I got it to work for me in Joplin, and I hit 51’7”, which was good for 2nd, and was about a 6-foot PR.
We moved on to the hammers from there. These have traditionally been one of my worst events, but last year, I figured out two things to focus on, and it has helped tremendously. We threw the heavy first, and I hit a 74’1” throw for 2nd, just 6” off from getting 1st, and a meet PR. In the light, I hit a throw of 88’3”, good for 3rd and a meet PR.
At this point I was feeling pretty good about things, some of my weaker events had gone quite well, and it looked like my chances of placing were decent. We moved on to the caber. I have been hit and miss on this event, mostly miss. This time I was able to turn the qualifier, but when it came time to turn the competition caber, I just couldn’t get a feel for it and got 3 attempts at 45 degrees each. It ended up being good for 4th, but I was not pleased with it at all. As it turned out, it ended up being my lowest placing. After lunch and a bit of a wait, we started the sheaf. This event has been my biggest nemesis in the heavy games, until last year when it finally clicked. I was worried that I would have lost it, not having touched it since then, but it came back to me and I threw pretty well. At 22’, I was clearing the bar by over 2 feet, but when we moved to 24’, I kept peaking behind the bar. Three of us tied here, but when they went to countback, I was declared the winner.
Next is an event I have always excelled at, the 56lb weight over bar. I ended up clearing 13’ by a few inches for the event win. I felt like if I had needed it, I could have gone 13’6”, or maybe even 14’ with a good throw.
We finished up on the stones. We did the braemar stone first. I topped out with a throw of 29’, which was good for 2nd, but a couple feet off from my best throw. Lastly was the open stone. I have always struggled with the approach on this, so I decided to do a technique, which I will never let my junior high throwers do: the fat man shuffle. It paid off! I hit a throw of 35’ 6.5” for the event win and another PR. When they tallied the score at the end of the day, I was declared the winner. This was only the second time I have ever placed in the B class, and my first win. I had a very solid day overall, and felt very good about it. This win put me in the top 10 nationally in the B class. With the help of HMB and a little practice, I am looking forward to seeing the progress that I can continue to make in these events.