For America’s Strongest, Event 1 was the Max Log, likely the most anticipated event of the competition. I’ve already mentioned this, but it would be ridiculous to pay anything less than due respect to the level of performance the athletes put forth on the Log Press. Tim Buck and Marcus Crowder joined the big Texan Austin Andrade with successful lifts at 420lbs/190.5kg under the watchful eye of head referee Bryan Beaune. Notably, “Cyborg” Marcus Crowder did this 6mo post-quad reattachment surgery. With successful lifts at 440lbs/200kg, we had Wesley Claborn of Georgia, Tyler Cotton of New Jersey, Charles Mitchell III of Texas, and Virginia’s Bobby Thompson. 460lbs/208.5kg was the next increment available, and despite some near attempts, “The American Nightmare” Bobby Thompson was the last man standing when the smoke cleared, being the only man to earn the down call at 460lbs.

Event 2 was a version of a Deadlift Ladder/Medley with an unusual twist; we used 3 increasingly heavy Rogue trap bars in each lane! Athletes stood atop platforms which made the pick height 12 inches, and the weights were 700, 800, and 900 pounds (317, 363, and 408kg!), with the last bar being lifted as many times as possible. Jacob Matthew Finerty was out due to injury, but astoundingly every athlete still remaining in the competition achieved multiple reps with the 900lb bar. Claborn and Roy Orrantia of Arizona both fought their way to 8 reps with that final bar, while Trey Mitchell reached 9, “Gorilla Guy” Josh Hatfield pushed to 10, and big Bobby Thompson took a second consecutive event win with 11 reps at 900lbs. Sounds almost unbelievable, but I assure you, these performances happened.

Event 3 began on Day 2, and marked a shift in the competition toward moving events. The Carry Medley was now between our athletes and their dreams of being America’s Strongest, and this featured a 330lb Sandbag, a 400lb Duck Walk, and a 330lb per hand Farmers Walk across a nearly 40ft course, with the athletes running back to the start for each implement. Somewhat uniquely, the athletes could approach the implements in ANY order, which made the event even more exciting to watch. “Dangerous” Tyler Cotton grabbed 3rd place with a finish under 32 seconds; the giant Brett Thompson took 2nd with 30.22sec; and 1st place went to Roy Orrantia with a blazing time of 28.6sec – Roy was in danger of setting off the smoke alarms due to the sparks flying off his shoes!

No one would be faulted for thinking that Bobby Thompson might lose some of his lead from Day 1 on such an event, but his performance here really showed what kind of form he was in. Bobby locked up 4th place (with 11 remaining as Crowder withdrew) and served notice that he had no intention of slipping down the ranks on the moving events. Could the American Nightmare be in his best form ever?

Event 4 was the Power Stairs, and the head-to-head matchups were exhilarating. Four steps at 18in each, and three implements weighing 400, 450, and 500lbs (181, 204, 227kg). 4th place went to Alex Kopp here with just under 33sec, and Alex was on a bit of a bum knee coming into this show! Claborn lost points here as something seized up in his back, and Trey Mitchell slipped in the rankings a little as well, while Bobby, Orrantia, and Cotton went 3rd, 2nd, and 1st in that order. Cotton’s time was an insane 27.35sec; I guess those massive traps come in handy when you’re basically power shrugging 500lbs up a set of oversized stairs!

The big finale was the Max Sandbag Load. 7 of the remaining 11 hit 440lbs/200kg or higher, with Josh Hatfield unfortunately unable to make his opener due to a knee injury he had sustained earlier in the contest. Successful at 460lbs/208.5kg were Jasper Haney of Washington, Trey Mitchell, and Austin “Smash” Andrade, with all 3 men sharing 1st place.

The final standings were as follows:

13th – Jacob “Bear” Finerty (withdrawn after event 1) 12th – Marcus “Cyborg” Crowder (withdrawn after event 2) 11th – Tim Buck 10th – “Gorilla Guy” Josh Hatfield 9th – Jasper Haney 7th – Alex Kopp (tie) 7th – Brett Thompson (tie) 6th – Wes Claborn 5th – Austin Andrade (43 pts) 4th – Roy Orrantia (45.5 pts) 3rd – Trey Mitchell (46 pts) 2nd – Tyler Cotton (50.5 pts) 1st – Bobby Thompson (55.5 pts)

While Trey, Tyler, and Bobby reminded us why they are amongst the very best strongmen in the world, a few lesser known Americans were able to show their mettle on the big stage as well. Austin Andrade and Roy Orrantia were both a whisker away from the podium, and proved (in my eyes) that they have to the ability to be competitive anywhere in the world. International promoters would be well served to reach out to these guys if they’re looking for elite talent.

Written by Paul Mouser

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