Fourty-seven competitors participated in the Houston Strongest Man & Woman contest held Saturday June 3, 2017 at the Legends Sports Complex. All of the events were held indoors in the soccer arena which provided an excellent venue for competitors and fans alike.
The Light Weight Women were led by Laura 0’Connor’Butler who won four of the five events in a tightly contested race with second place finisher Julie Phommasak, with Ashleigh Dinkins finishing third.
The Middle Weight Women only had two participants but both were determined to be the winner, resulting in very close results on each event, with each winning some and tieing on another. In the end Ashley Palmer won, this being her first contest, with Kelli Christian pushing her on every event to take second.
The Novice Men had a large field of eleven competitors, either first timers or with only one prior contest under their belt. Four different people were event winners spreading the points around. In the end Chris Kelly won by a sizable margin with 49 points, Orlando Olmeda took second with 43 points and Ricky Deagracias made up a large amount of ground after zeroing the first event, by winning the next two events, to place third with 37.5 points. All three placers now move into the open and could each be serious competitors in their respective weigth classes.
The Masters Men had three relatively new competitors, in the end the large and agile Justin Whedbee proved to much for the others, winning four of the five events. Rod Chandler took second and Antonio Cuellar finished third.
The Mens under 175 class was won by Arnold competitor Ben Hayden of Underground Performance, who made easy work of nearly every event. The next four competitors were tightly grouped together with only four points seperating 2nd-5th. Ryan Lansford came in second with one event win and one second place finish, followed by Matthew Garcia.
The Mens under 200 saw several newcomers to the sport and/or this division. It was a very tight race all day among the top three finishers, the points lead changing hands after each event. In the end Nathan Ramirez won the final event, the stone to shoulder and eeked out a one point margin for the victory. Caymann Johnston was second and newcomer Curt Martin finished third by a very slim 1/2 point margin. The fourth place finisher Stephen Wentrcek was also in contention much of the day. In the end 2 1/2 points was the margin from 1st down to 4th.
The Mens under 231.5 class was a bit light due to a few competitors not making weight and moving up to the next class. What was left were three guys with a fair amount of contest experience and talent, which presented a nice battle for the top placing. Matthew Yrlas was able to win two events and place second on the rest which gave him the win. Chris Lee and Donovan Rascon tied for second, however Chris had two event wins and Donovan only one, so on countback Chris was awarded second place and Donovan third.
Mens under 265 had five competitors, one with a few contests to his credit, one making his second appearance after nearly a decade off and three first timers. In the end Grant Lynch was the winner, after a handful of contests prior he was able to get his first win. Jason Hehr coming back after many years off finished strong to take second place, both were originally slated for the 231’s but came in just a bit too heavy. Newcomer, strength coach Joey Caldwell finished third by a 1/2 point and has already vowed to come back the Houston July contest and do even better.
The final group, the big boys 265+ saw the return of local strongman Brad Pillow who won four of the five events to take first. Brad got 10 reps on the opening log press better than doubling the next closest score. On both of the timed events he pushed himself to wins and the final event the stone to shoulder he put on a seminar with 7 reps on the 270lb stone in 60 seconds. Ted Milton also a Houston area resident, place well in every event and took second, highlighted by his 800lbs frame DL. Newcomer Joseph Westmoreland placed third and has hopes of moving up very quickly.
The contest was wrapped up well before 3:00 and awards handed out shortly thereafter. A big thanks to all of the sponsors, athletes, helpers/loaders and the crowd for their support.