Back in Black: SCBC at the 1st Annual Black Box Weightlifting Championships

Over the past weeks and months we’ve been focused on making the Exile Open a reality and bringing Olympic Weightlifting back to Oklahoma in a big way. But, in the background, we’ve also been training like mad and preparing to compete in Dutch Lowy’s 1st annual Black Box Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. On February 25th, the judge became the judged; the director became the directed; and SCBC took a turn on the platform. Here’s how it all went down:

On the morning of the meet I woke up feeling rested, injury free, and strangely calm. I skipped breakfast because I was a little stressed about my weight. I’ve been hovering around 230 lbs for a while now and the last thing I want to do is train for 8 weeks, register to lift, drive to Dirtball, Texas, and be 3 lbs over weight because I didn’t have the discipline or foresight to control my bulk on one of those special four or five times a year when I actually care about my weight. I pulled into Ryan’s driveway around 9:30 in the a.m. and made a b-line directly to his scale. I was delighted to find myself 7 lbs under the weight limit. It’s pretty amazing what 24 hrs of no sodium and distilled water can do for your waistline, ladies.

With that trainwreck out of the way, we loaded-up the Jeep and proceeded to haul it due south down I-35 to Black Box Fort Worth, walking in the door just as Dutch called my name for weigh-ins. The gym was a long, rectangular space crowded with lifters and spectators. We weaved our way through the masses, bumping into fellow meet junkie Steve Galvan from 210 CrossFit and Exile Open lifter Jim Napier along the way. Session two was just about to get underway and we were able to catch Jim’s opener before our traditional post-weigh-in disappearing act.

After some chow and a change of clothes, we made our way back to the Box. It’s about an hour before show time. I was happy to see no less than three warm-up platforms stocked with quality bars and bumpers. The platform nearest the front door boasted Elieko steel and Pendlay rubber; both felt relatively new and extremely badass.  I worked my way into a rotation here and snatched doubles and singles every few minutes until I reached a nice single at 95 kilos, 5 kilos shy of my opener. These all felt very good and the rhythm and smoothness I found in my warm-up reps did a lot for my nerves. The work I’ve done with Steve Miller over the past few months has really paid off, particularly in the snatch. Even still, I was absolutely jacked out of my gourd when it was time to take the stage. I caught a massive adrenaline dump when Ryan told me I was two out from my opening attempt. This is make or break time for me. Harnessing that nervous energy can propel you to uncharted heights; being overcome by it can leave you sitting in a corner shaking your head, fake-smiling at people who tell you “good effort” and “we’ll get ’em next time.”

My initial plan was to call for 100 kgs with the understanding that if warm-ups went well I would change my first attempt to 105, which would put me in position to make 5 kg jumps up to a 115 finisher. However, my nerves simply wouldn’t allow me to get that far out of my comfort zone with an opener. So, I stuck with 100 and when I was called up I did my best to stay calm and focused, and to revert back to some helpful training cues that keep me in good positions. I took my time chalking-up. I probably over-do it here, but this really helps me introvert and prepare for show time. I visualize the lift. I coach myself. I get into my own little world and prepare for the most exciting split-second in sports.

I stepped onto the large, all-wooden platform. It looked huge. I took a second or two to soak it all in and get comfortable up there. I shook the tension out of my legs and got into my pre-pull routine. Taking hold of the bar felt great. A chalky, hook grip on a beautiful, new Elieko is like holding Excalibur. You get the feeling that something amazing is about to happen. That, or you’re going to cut your own head off in front of 100 people with camera phones and end up on the news. Maybe some senator will name a bill after me that makes it illegal to snatch without parental consent and a license from the DHS. “What an asshole,” they’ll say; and they’ll be right.

The progression of grip adjustments, bar rolling, fidgeting, and snorting here is similar to the ritual you’ll see at the NBA free throw line where a careful series of dribbles, spins, and controlled breathing allows the athlete to focus on the sequence rather than the situation, and to execute skill movements under pressure in a consistent manner. As I set my back and prepare to pull, the entire room goes quiet and I feel that little lag in time where the intensity of the circumstance heightens your perceptions and makes everything feel like slow motion. My only thought now is to be smooth off the ground and to control the explosion in a vertical slot. And, I did. Right through the roof. I always open tight and this was certainly no exception. The result was a very fast, very tense power snatch of the most awkward order. I was quite thrilled to take it and get the hell out of there.

The sense of relief at hitting the opener is palpable. It really sets the tone for the day. It just puts you in an entirely different mindset where you are now able to settle in and go to work. I felt that relaxation immediately and called for a big, 10 kilo jump on my second attempt. This is a pretty aggressive move, but I had ground to make up for opening like a nancy. I hit 110 with ease. Probably still a power snatch, but much better technically and my focus and confidence were spot-on now. When you feel that way there’s only one thing to do: go for it.

I called for 114 on my final attempt. This would be a 1 kg PR and put me in a good spot to total 250 today, which was my primary goal for the meet.  At this point all but three lifters had finished snatching, so the turnaround was going to be pretty quick. But, that’s how I like it. I’m hot, I’m confident, I’m 2-for-2, let’s keep this thing going. I was completely in the zone; laser focused with keen awareness of my body and the bar and the relationship thereof. All the second guessing and tension that I fought through with my opener was absent. I was alone in my mind with this lift, in this moment, and what I had to do to make it happen. I worked in a tight grip, I thought of nothing, rolled the bar back, filled my lungs, set my back, and began to pull.

The bar came off the ground smoothly. I stayed tight, patient, and poised. The steel gently exfoliated my shins on the way up. Everything was aligned and coiled as I passed my knees and slammed on the gas. I felt the explosion of the second pull accelerate the weight violently and I knew everything had gone perfectly to that point, but 251 lbs is still a lot to catch, control, and stand up with, and nothing is ever certain in the snatch. But, this one was certain, and easily one of the best snatches I’ve ever performed. It landed so directly in my center of control that the final portion of the lift was absolutely effortless. I stood up, waited for the “down” call, and let out a very satisfying yell as I dropped the weight to the platform amid a spattering of applause and congratulations from the other lifters. Let me tell you, that shit felt good.

At this point, the meet gets easy. I’ve already accomplished the vast majority of what I came here to do. I fought through the nerves and went 3-for-3 in the snatch, finishing with a PR. Now you just go out and have fun with the clean and jerk and see what happens.

I opened with 130 and handled it pretty easily. I decided to jump directly up to 136 which would achieve my other goal for the meet: a 250 total. Somehow I missed the clean. I know, I know, but it’s true. Even though I caught it high and snug in the rack position, when I rebounded at the bottom of the front squat it slid off my shoulders and onto the platform in front of me. I was pretty disgusted with this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because this is what I did with 137 in my last meet, and that’s the only reason I hadn’t already hit a 250 total. Secondly, because I would now have to repeat at 136 and thus lose my opportunity for a “free lift” up closer 140.

So, I did call for 136 again and this time I chalked my shoulders and chest, I concentrated on keeping my torso vertical after the second pull, and I went up there and kicked that thing’s ass. This tied my clean and jerk PR. And, it almost made the earlier miss worse because the way I hit 136 made me feel pretty confident about 138 or even 140 on a day like this. But, 5-for-6 with a PR, a tied PR, and a total PR is not something I’m going to do anything but celebrate. In fact, looking back over my last four meets, I’m now 12-for-12 in the snatch with four PRs. Here are my results from Black Box– click to view larger.

Black Box Results for 94 kg and 105 kg Weight Classes

Honestly, the meet was almost perfect. It went smoothly and with a good pace. It was well managed and officiated. All the lifters preformed well. I’m very happy with the way I competed and my lifts were good enough to win the 105 kg weight class. Dutch did not hand out medals, so I’m just letting you know. But, results of the Black Box Weightlifting Championships can be found on the Black Box Fort Worth website. And of course, USAW members can find all meet results on Here’s some terrible, grainy highlights from the meet:

My confidence is through the roof right now and I feel that I can actually make some fairly significant improvements if I address weaknesses, develop my power, and keep working hard. 

Stay tuned to SCBC for the game plan for Spring Training and some fun upcoming events in our region.

– Jeremy “Ruthledg” Rutledge

Black Box Results for Lower Weight Classes


Exile Open 2012: The Best Seat in the House

Last weekend in Moore SCBC put on the first open Olympic weightlifting meet in Oklahoma in nearly six years, and with the help of nearly 300 coaches, vendors, competitors, and spectators, the Exile Open 2012 turned into one of the biggest and best Oly events in state history.

Stacy Jennings of CrossFit Exile provided a fantastic venue for the event and bent over backwards to accommodate us in every possible way.  We’ve had some trouble securing locations for events in the past and Stacy has been nothing short of amazing in his generosity and our shared vision for where this thing is going. He’s a big part of the reason this event was such a hit. He’s the reason we call it the Exile Open.  He’s the reason set-up and tear-down went so smoothly. And he’s the reason we’re very eager to work with CrossFit Exile in the future.
At least 4 of the 11 female competitors qualified for Nationals
A couple of other people need to be mentioned here. Bob White of Metro Weightlifting in Norman provided us with some very high quality Werksan bars and plates for the main platform. He also brought up a large crew of quality lifters to compete, many of whom qualified for Nationals. Beyond that, many of the competitors and parents from the Metro squad were extremely charitable with their time assisting us with loading, judging, and time keeping for the event. Our good friend and event promoter Tyler Poole, who trains with Bob at Metro, somehow managed to bust his butt helping us put this thing on AND train for and compete at the event all at the same time. Amazing. Without Metro, this thing would have been a hot mess.

Steve Miller from USA Stars was equally involved in making this event click. He personally came up the night before to help us set-up, walkthrough, and plan for the big day. On Saturday, Steve came back with some gorgeous Elieko bars for the warm-up area and other odds and ends that really took our meet to the next level in terms of quality. Not to mention his team’s addition of three national-level lifters to the competition: Jessica and Jaclyn Beed, who both qualified for Nationals, and Cole Barnhart, fresh off his performance at the American Open. Steve also coached the youngest lifter at the Exile Open, eight-year-old Karlee Carrouth, who went 3-for-6 and totaled an adorable 30 kilos.

Finally, the community support from local businesses like Edmond Summit Co., who donated the chalk and gave us a pair of InoV8 shoes to raffle off; GNC who rented booth space and gave out goodie bags; Chipotle, Jamba Juice, and Van’s Pig Stand who donated food for the athletes; Southern Shingle who got us a huge banner with the event logo; the handful of dedicated volunteers who ran errands, picked up trash, and donated their Saturday to help us out; and of course, Dental Depot who came in with a spectacular donation which made it possible for us to go the extra mile with t-shirts, trophies, a custom-built platform, a P/A system, and lots of perks that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.  The outpouring of support along with the tremendous turnout from all over Oklahoma and north Texas made it abundantly clear that Oklahoma is hungry for this kind of thing and ready for more.
View from the T-shirt Table
With a few late entries, including former national champion and current master lifter Jim Napier of Texas, the Exile Open boasted a final competition roster of well over 50 athletes ranging in age from 8 to 65, from novice to youth Olympian, from our mentor Tom Ward’s high school football guys to some of the top crossfitters in the world. We opened the competition with a 10 kg snatch and finished it with a 150 kg clean and jerk ala Texas A&M’s strength coach Travis Vlentes, who took home the trophy for top overall male lifter. Top female honors went to Paige Millsapugh from CrossFit Jenks. She edged out some stiff competition including the Beed sisters, both international-level competitors who performed well in preparation for their upcoming tour of national meets starting with the national championships at the Arnold’s in Columbus, Ohio next month.

From my perspective as the head judge and as a fan of the sport, this event was an absolute joy to watch and I was fortunate to have the best seat in the house. I saw people fight through nerves and struggle with max-effort lifts. I saw people crack under pressure and rise to the occasion to perform at the highest levels. One of the biggest challenges as a judge is to remain impartial and not root for these guys who go up there and face their fears, the cameras, the judges, the eyes of 200 spectators, and call for loads that push the limits of what is possible.  And I’m the one guy in the room who can’t applaud and smile and let my emotions show when a kid barely misses a lift and I have to red light him. And, even worse, when that same kid calls for that lift again and gets back up there and hits it. I want to jump up and high five him and yell out “Hell yes, my man! Way to come back and get that!” But , I can’t, and that’s the price you pay to sit front and center, three feet from the platform, and make the calls that break hearts or help dreams come true. It was an honor and an inspiration. The venue looked amazing. There were no injuries. The competition was fierce. And nearly a dozen athletes qualified for national tournaments. Frankly, as an event promoter, I could not be any happier with the way this thing came together and I’m extremely proud and eager to take this momentum and build on it. We plan to do exactly that with the Oklahoma State and Open Olympic Weightlifting Championships this summer.

As always, stay tuned to SCBC for more on the Exile Open, including highlights of the thousands of professional photos taken over two days by True Beauty Images. We’ll also continue to keep you informed on heavy athletics in the region such as the upcoming Caveman Games, Strongman events, Highlander Games, Powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting events, and other athletic competitions. Next up for Ryan and me: The Black Box Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Ft. Worth, Texas this Saturday, Feb. 25th, where we will both compete in the 105 kg class. Hope I didn’t botch my karma by red-lighting that 8-year-old; but a press-out is a press-out.

– Rut Diesel

Exile Open 2012 – A brief look back.

Banner and Platform

It wuz a gud 1.

If you’ve come here looking for results email me.  I have not found a way to adequately display the meet results on this blog.  Because blogs suck.

If you are interested in meet pics these will be available at  At this time the website is not live but I was told to expect it to be so at any time.  If it is not up soon please call them at (405)201-5491.  Or email them at

Packed House

I was very pleased with the turnout for the meet.  I think there were 52 total lifters.  That’s a lot for a local meet.  A lot.  I have no idea how many people showed up to watch.  All I know is that the house was packed from 9am to 7pm.  Many people were forced to stand as we did not secure sufficient seating for the event.  My bad.  I was sure 50 chairs would be sufficient.

Eric Barber.  Get that back heel turned out, Barber.

I sat down to do a little recap.  I started checking totals to the current qualifying totals for national meets.  Ummm, yeah.  We had lots of guys and gals qualifying if not at least coming close.  Paige Millspaugh was well over this years qualifying total for Nationals.  Unfortunately, this meet fell outside the deadline to qualify.  So I need to sit down and go over these numbers before I do a post on the meet.  I’ll let Jeremy do a recap or maybe Tyler can talk about his experience at his first oly meet.  All I can say is it is very exciting to see how many people qualified and how many people got really close.  So close that had they made that last lift or had they jumped just another couple kilo’s they would have made it to the big show.  But a lot of the youth lifters qualified.  Many of the juniors and seniors got very close.  All the master’s qualified.  So stay tuned for that.

Exile Open from Above

If you have any photo’s you’d like to be put on the site e-mail them to me.

"It’s ok. I was nervous my first time, too….."

That’s what she said.

“I’m not ready.”  Been hearing that a lot lately. 

This is a post about competing if you are confused.

Sweet lift, bro.

When it comes to getting up in front of a bunch of people and attempting to lift heavy weight, many will balk.  They feel they aren’t ready.  That they won’t be competitive.  Or that they will be laughed off the stage.  These are irrational fears, but real none-the-less.

You will never be ready for a meet.  What does that even mean?  You aren’t ready because you’re not big enough, strong enough or fast enough.  You’ll never be big enough, strong enough or fast enough.  And if you feel you are, you need to leave whatever sport you are competing in because you’ve lost your passion for it.  You’re never ready because you could always be better.

How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never competed?

I’ve always been a fan of the underdog.  “Against all odds, one man would challenge it all…(as spoken in a deep, movie trailer-esque voice over).”  What kind of asshole only fights battles he knows he can win?  You’ll never be competitive if you don’t compete.  That is how you become competitive.  If you train day-in and day-out at your gym or box waiting for the magical day when you become “competitive,” it’ll never happen.  You’re better off reading Kafka.  You just got to jump in it.  Prepping for a competition will take your training to the next level like you wouldn’t believe.  It is the ultimate motivating factor.

I’ve been to many meets and competitions of a variety of strength sports both as a competitor and as a spectator.  I’ve never seen an athlete be received poorly by the audience, meet staff or fellow competitors.  It’s a very positive environment.

Pandas don’t even have thumbs and they can lift.

On that last note, I’d like to leave you guys with a couple personal anecdotes for my own experiences in meets.  The first being my first ever Highland Games meet.  It was the Iron Thistle Highland Games in Yukon.  It was my first time, I was nervous.  I hadn’t had much experience throwing.  But I was with a good group.  The older guys among us were quick to give us new guys tips and pointers.  On more than one occasion I fell flat on my face in the middle of a throw.  Everybody within eyesight had a good laugh each time.  But someone was always there to help me up and pat me on the back.  It’s good fun.

The most memorable part of the Games was the caber toss.  It was my second attempt after a failed first.  I was able to “rack” it (if that is the term) on my shoulder but I couldn’t get my hands underneath.  I must have struggled with that pole for only a couple minutes but it felt like forever.  All the while everybody is freaking out.  The people in the stands were on their feet, everyone was shouting words of encouragement… was awesome.  Everybody was behind me and they truly and sincerely wanted to see me succeed.  And I did.  It was almost a perfect 12:00 flip.  Google caber toss rules if you don’t get the 12:00.

The second story I’d like to share was my first Oly meet in Van Alstyne.  Met a lot of good people there.  Chad Vaughn was there.  A couple guys who will be at Exile Open were also there.  It was a decent first meet for me.  I went 5/6 after missing my first snatch due to nerves.  Nobody laughed at that first miss even as it was baby weight.  In fact I lifted as a 105kg with 3 or 4 other guys.  It is embarrassing to say how much more weight they were lifting compared to me.  But I was the only one worried about it.  No one else cared.

The most memorable part of the meet was my last clean & jerk.  I think it was 129kgs.  The the lifter that would place first and second hadn’t even opened yet.  So I step up to the platform.  This was a PR attempt for me at the time.  I was nervous, but I felt I could do it.  Scratch that, I knew I could do it.  The adrenaline and competition atmosphere had helped give me a few more kilos.

So I clean the weight and struggle to stand up.  It was a bit of a battle and I kind of roared on the way up.  Nobody laughed at me for being a douche.  So I finally stand up and prepare for the jerk.  I focus, take a deep breath, dip and……nothing.  I just dipped and can back up (which constitutes a failed attempt).  I knew what happened and I just kind of shook my head in that “I’m a dumbass” kind of way.  But all of a sudden the crowd got behind me.  People stood up, everyone started clapping and cheering and encouraging me to finish the lift.  And I did.

Go somewhere and compete.  It will be the best thing that has ever happened to your athletic career.

Ryan S.