I have struggled with writing this all week, because I really don’t know what to say after the conclusion of South By SouthWest IV – Squats IV Stephen. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the graciousness of everyone who contributed, and with the positive mindset of our lifting brethren. Let me just say, I thought the meet went exceedingly well, and most importantly, we raised over SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for our brother Stephen. 7 grand! That’s a helluva thing.
We ended up with over 30 lifters in 3 flights – by far the biggest Squat By yet. People came from all over the state to compete and/or watch, and generous folks donated services and goods from all over the country for our silent auction. We split the lifters into 4 divisions, with trophies, prizes, and medals for the top two in each division.
We had four of HPG’s strongest squatters engage in a “front squatathon,” and every single one of these bad boys hit at least a 200 kilogram (440+ pound) front squat! That’s extremely impressive. What’s even more impressive is that they went on to spot and load for the men’s heavyweight division later in the night! Thanks, Ben, Coy, Keith, and Gerry. I can’t wait to see you guys hit 500lbs.
The open women’s group was a ton of fun to watch. We had everyone from absolute novices to very advanced lifters, and everyone was cheering for each other. They got us off to a great start, and HPG Olympic lifter Jennifer Chu won with her ass-to-grass squats that left absolutely no doubt about her hitting depth! Ashley Pardo crushed a 300lb squat but narrowly missed her depth call, and finished in a close second place.
The Masters’ division was also Wilks-based, with both men and women competing against each other. We even had a woman CURRENTLY fighting breast cancer! In the end, HPG local boys Eric Garnel and Patrick Larson went 1-2.
We had enough guys enter to split them into lightweight and heavyweight divisions. In the lightweight division, Stephen Moore requested that Noah take a bigger third attempt than planned. Naturally, Noah, with the crowd behind him, destroyed 415lb and took first, followed by Paul Nielson with a strong and successful 370lb third attempt.
The heavyweight guys went last, and they didn’t let the crowd down, with a ton of big performances. IPF World-Class lifter and all around great guy, Greg Johnson, took home big squat of the day and first place with a beautiful 600lb attempt. His buddy Scott Prosek, who normally competes in multi-ply powerlifting gear, took an easy 500lb squat for second place. Both guys traveled from the Dallas area and put up a great show!
I can’t even begin to thank everyone that was involved in putting this meet together, but I’ll give it a whirl.
Kathryn Alexander was the ringleader for all the fundraising, and the driving force behind the event. She did an amazing job drumming up donations and organizing all sorts of very of important details – including the shirts and the keg! Kathryn is no stranger to fundraising, and I hope you all help her out with her annual ALS fundraising efforts.
The spotters and loaders worked harder than everyone, just like at every powerlifting meet. I actually called out a few folks from the audience to help, and nobody batted an eye. No powerlifting meet functions without volunteers – remember that whenever you compete.
Our Vintage Strong team came to play – Dave drove up from Houston and did basically everything – and then bought us dinner afterwards! My wife, Jess (a former SXSW Champion!), took care of all the scoring and a million little details, all while holding our 3 month old, Lily. She was assisted by our great friend Tina, and a couple dozen more friends who helped take care of the baby when needed. Theresa was an expert-level judge and didn’t even partake in cervezas until after the lifting was over – that’s commitment!
We had more people help with the silent auction than I know. Next time, I’ll gather up all the companies and give them a lot more credit! I had no idea this was going to be so big. Thank you.
The lifters were, to the letter, all great sports. The vast majority hit personal records, which was really cool to watch. Whether they were winning their division or just attempting their first competition, they all followed the rules and made my job as a meet director easy. The amazing crowd cheered them on loudly, and DJ Casey Cuts laid down a sweet soundtrack to the whole thing. We had standing room only, complete with people standing outside to watch!
I’d like to thank Brook, the owner of Hyde Park Gym, the best gym in Austin, and I say that with absolute confidence. Brook encouraged us to put this all together, and for helped with, well, basically everything. HPG is a family, because he has made it like that. This family most definitely includes Phil Wood’s parents, Julia and David, who donated cash to all the winners in honor of their late son, who we all miss on a regular basis.
Finally, and most importantly, thanks to Stephen Moore. He’s not a guy that’s going to talk your ear off, but he quietly leads by example. He has dealt with the loss of his foot in a way that I wouldn’t think possible by even the best, and that’s more inspiring than I know how to describe. I hope that we all recognize and appreciate the kind of positive mindset he has when we deal with whatever life throws at us.