American Open Series 3: An Athlete’s Perspective

Training for any weightlifting competition is indescribable. Through all the ups and downs of preparing both physically and mentally, it’s difficult to even think about who is showing up, and what to expect out on the platform. As an athlete myself, I have found myself elated for my next meet: the USAW American Open Series 3. When I first registered, my coach and I planned on having a “fun meet” in our home state of Michigan (I’m from Rochester, Michigan). The start list, however, had something else in mind.

I will be competing in the USAW American Open Series 3 next month in the 63kg weight class. Initially, my main goal going into this competition was to break some Junior American records and possibly compete for the top of the podium (depending on who registered for the event).

Well, there are some pretty good lifters on the start list in my weight class. As of now, the top 5 entry totals in the 63kg weight class are Maddy Myers, December Garcia, Jacky Bigger, myself and Emily Sallome. Myers, in my opinion, is the best 63kg category lifter in the country. She has beaten Mary Peck’s total recently and has shown improvement with a 213kg record total at the IWF Junior World Championships. Garcia and Bigger, both on Mash Elite’s team, share the same qualifying total with me at 195kg. They are both incredible athletes with much more potential than those totals show. Emily Sallome should also give a great performance with her 183kg total.

It is challenging as a relatively inexperienced lifter to know that I will be competing against these athletes. I do fine under pressure, but going from just plain ol’ “mitten strong” (a saying that us Michigan weightlifters use) to “USA strong” is a transition that has been humbling to say the least. Any weightlifter going to national meets may feel this way no matter where they’re from. My advice: give it your all and don’t stress too much about the elevated competition and shining lights. I do not care if you get 1st or 21st- if you do YOUR best, you win in my eyes. I mean that.

Aside from my own weight class, I have plenty of thoughts about other athletes making an appearance in the mitten in a few short weeks. Here are my takes on the rest of the women’s weight categories.

As far as the 48kg women’s class, Megan Seegart is the favorite per the current start list. She is a force to be reckoned with, even considering her junior status. Katrina Kusick, however, holds a total on the start list that is just 3kg behind Seegart’s. I am excited to see if Kusick makes a big break so that a big showdown can occur during the 48 session!

Olympian Morghan King is also planning on attending, but as a 53kg lifter. She is dominant as a 48kg and is not too shabby as a 53kg either! Jourdan Delacruz shares the top of the start list with King with a whopping 183kg total. Delacruz is becoming a fantastic weightlifter, and I am expecting a suspenseful competition between these two.

I think it’s important in weightlifting to keep a close eye on the weight classes that sandwich your own. This is my belief because you never know when a person may cut or gain weight and suddenly become a concern in competition.

With that being said, the 58kg start list is a talented bunch. GRID athlete Jennyfer Roberts tops it with a 191kg total. Kalynn Pepito, Kaija Bramwell, and Stephanie Lemmen all hold totals at or above 180kg which is very respectable for some 58’s. Lauren Jaslove, a fellow Michigan lifter, has a 166kg total but I believe she will be improving significantly and we should keep an eye on her progress!

Unfortunately, the infamous Mattie Rogers probably won’t be competing in Grand Rapids, 69kg lifters Hunter Elam and Leslie Mayville will be there. They are both hovering around 200kg totals and still should be an impressive duo without Rogers being around. I personally love these weight classes. You usually get a lot of bang for your buck with average sized (but obviously muscular) women that can lift much more than you think! I expect a lot from these two sessions and I plan on attending both.

Jenny Arthur, 2016 Olympian, tops the 75kg start list. Shacasia Johnson and Quiana Welch take the second and third slots. Arthur still has a 14kg lead on both Johnson and Welch, but I have seen massive lifts from the latter and expect fantastic lifting in this session. Junior lifter Jessie Bradley is also in the mix with a 208kg total.

The 90kg weight class has been a historic category as it is still less than a year old! Women are already making names for themselves in the class and we have some of them coming to the American Open Series 3. 2016 USAW American Open reigning champion Marissa Klingseis is on the start list. She actually won the 2016 USAW American Open as a +90kg, so I am looking forward to seeing her progress in the lighter class.

The +90kg weight class only has seven lifters at the moment with Emily Malinowski in the lead. I still can’t wait to see some heavy weights thrown around by the top weight class!

I anticipated a much smaller competition held here in Michigan-especially considering the small, tight-knit weightlifting community we have here. After evaluating the start list, I have become so excited about this event. We have 2 Olympians competing along with plenty of established athletes who will surely put on an amazing show. The American Open Series 3 is the final qualifier for the Senior World Championships in Anaheim, naturally creating a VERY competitive playing field. Expect nail-biters, big jumps, record attempts, among many other exciting weightlifting happenings.

For those competing…expect excitement, anxiousness, glory, and the feeling of being unsatisfied. No matter your level or goals, or if you’re just a spectator, weightlifting has touched each and every one of us in a special way. Grand Rapids has some big expectations, and I certainly believe the competition will meet (or exceed) them. Best of luck to all of you training out there. Make the most out of these last few weeks. See you out on the platform.