I have talked incessantly about Maidens of Might 2018 for months now (shocking I know), and plenty has been said on particular topics. Due to my constant rambling, you may already know that we shattered nearly every conceivable female attendance record in WV history with this show. You may also have heard that we offered a super heavy “Wonder Woman” division for ladies that were a little extra crazy. You are probably also aware that we were joined for the weekend by pro strongwoman Brittany Diamond. With the number competitors at the show, it would be impossible to even attempt to cover individual performances for everyone. Thus I am just going to mention a few outstanding performances in each event, and touch on some stories from the show that maybe you didn’t hear about.
Our mighty maidens were divided (yet still very much united) into 2 groups. Both groups began their day on the Max Mouser Block Over Bar event, which featured 2 lanes running at once. Kayla Knotts was back for the first time since the birth of her daughter, and went 2 for 3 ending on a successful 120 pound hoist, which was a bodyweight lift for her. Gina Cravedi of Massachusetts started off her first competition on WV soil with a bang by winning the Open 120’s with a 160 pound Block, which made a lovely and thunderous sound upon crashing back to Earth.
There were an incredible number of first timers on the roster, and 2 of them managed 180 pounds on the Block load in the MW Novice class for joint first place – Jennifer Armstrong and Heather Moore. At Open MW, the winning lift was produced by Katie O’Connor at 220. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that she had mashed her finger tips on the yoke bar about a week before the show, and they were still rather purple and sore that day. Picking up the Mouser Block with bum fingers is no easy task! The story of the Novice HWs was teen phenom Kaitlyn Tennant, who secured the win with a tremendous 240 pound lift.
The atmosphere at this point was electric. The ladies were getting into their 3rd attempts, and the strain of their efforts was on full display. The crowd was deeply involved by this time, cheering so loudly throughout the event that our score keepers and judges (seat right beside each other) could barely hear each other. The weights had climbed to well over 200 pounds, and a showdown was looming between Ohio’s Sharon Moss and WV’s Tiffany Drake. Sharon had tossed 200 over the bar with comical ease, and opted to skip all the way up to 260 pounds for her final attempt. Tiffany made short work of 240, and she wasn’t interested in a tie, so she opted for a whopping 280 for her final attempt. These 2 women are among the most statically powerful you’ll ever meet, and they were playing to win. 260 was loaded in the Block, and Sharon confidently approached the unforgiving mass of steel. On the signal Sharon dragged the immense weight of the Block up her shins, and wrestled it onto her lap. With a deep breath and a purposeful drive upward, the Block climbed higher and higher until the bottom lip had cleared the bar and then with a final thrust forward, the Block was over, and Sharon suddenly had the lead. Tiffany was up next, and the Block was filled to 280 pounds. Could it be done? With a tug and a groan, the Block began move upward, but then back down. More similar attempts would follow, revealing that 280 was just a wee bit much on this day, and this meant Sharon had the win.
The Circus DB Press event featured a lighter option and heavier option, and only 3 women in the entire contest were able to register reps on the heavier option! The rarity of those successes made the few instances even more special, but that is not to say that there weren’t some noteworthy feats on the “lighter” bells as well. Kristin Dotson blazed a trail in the Novice LW class that proved difficult to follow, as she motored through 14 reps with stunning efficiency. Kristin was part of a bus load of friends from our neighboring state of Maryland that trained and traveled together for this meet. Other such groups included crews from Ohio, and our Primal Strength friends from VA – it was amazing to see groups of 4, 5, 6, etc. that banded together to come to this event. Having so many “teams” present sparked the idea in my mind that Maidens of Might was not so much a family reunion as it was a reunion of families.
Back to the action in the Circus DB event, Theresa Garee of Ohio put up the winning score at 13 reps for the Open 140’s, and Michelle Cox knocked out a clean dozen for the win at MW Novice. Julie McGuire also produced 12 presses here at MW Open, but it was only enough for second place as Katie O’Connor went all-in on the heavier option bell (90 pounds) and landed herself 2 big lifts for the victory. Tiffany Drake had the most “heavy” option reps of the day with 3 at 125 pounds, which won her class.
The Fingal Finger may have been the most deceptively agonizing event contested, as the effort necessary to flip the giant metal pole over the hinge even a single time cannot be truly appreciated until one actually lays hands on the devilish apparatus. Liz Bartolo had the gold medal performance in the Open 120’s, and this was extraordinary for more reasons than what was on the surface. The 120 class had long been a pipe dream in WV (and most other places honestly) because, despite our best efforts, there simply aren’t that many women in the country that compete in the 120 class. This contest marked the first time we were able to hold this class as its own entity, without consolidating with the 140’s. With unfortunate circumstances causing some last minute drop outs, Liz Bartolo stepped up on extremely late notice, thus saving the entire division!
The Open 140’s saw an unbelievably tight race for 1st between Dazzlin Slaughter and Theresa Garee – both achieved an outstanding mark of 6 flips, but it was Dazzlin that edged the win by a single second! Teen HW Klaryssa Miller could have casually walked through the events because she was flying solo in her class, but instead she unleashed a hurricane of power upon each event, Fingal Finger included. 9 flips was Klaryssa’s score.
Things got a little more severe for the Open MWs, as the Finger was extended from 8ft to 14 ft, making it exponentially more difficult (and visually stunning might I add). Ashley Flanagan clocked in with 5 huge flips here, her best showing of the day to that point. It was only enough for 2nd place though as once again O’Connor surged ahead of the pack as she got 6 flips registered with only seconds to spare. Katie was absolutely on fire at this point, as she was having what appeared to be the best showing of her strongwoman career. Stephanie Hines of PA, Kaitlyn Tennant of WV, and Shack Shelley of VA had a tight race at HW novice, going for 4, 5, and 6 reps respectively.
The last 2 events were grinders. These events were placed at the end to test the mettle of our fearsome warriors, and force them to dig deep into their very souls if they wanted to excel. First, we will cover the grueling Tire Flip to Deadlift event. The idea here was to combine a more awkward and traditional true strongman event with more of a gym lift style event that both taxed the body in similar ways. Additionally, we wanted to make the axle deadlift portion heavy enough that anyone who completed the tire section would have their work cut out for them on the second half of the challenge. To put this in perspective, the majority of our ladies were able to negotiate past the tire portion of the task, and of those 5 could not manage a lift on the axle, and only 4 broke double digits regardless of division. In other words, the weights here were significant!
In Novice LW, Bethany Webber made it through the tire and battled through 7 reps, but was edged out by Dotson who took 8. Rhode Island’s Melissa Thompson made her ancestors proud as she stormed through the tire and fired off 10 big reps on the axle deadlift for the win at 140. Leisha Schiess and Jane Pavalkis looked phenomenal at MW Open, busting out 8 and 9 reps on the deadlift respectively, only surpassed by Katie O’Connor who tied for the most reps of the day at 12. The other Maiden of Might who clocked in with 12 was Kaitlyn Tennant, who had now taken pole position in the standings at HW Novice.
The action in the Wonder Woman division was so intense it nearly brought the house down. A massive tire was rolled in for these brave ladies, and the axle deadlift weight was turned up to 400 pounds. The immense tire was so difficult to turn over that it took Tiffany Drake nearly the entire time limit to finish that portion of the course. She managed to squeeze in one deadlift before time expired. Sharon Moss stepped up big time here, and finished the tire course in 45 seconds leaving her enough time to manage 2 deadlifts for the win.
Lastly we will explore the pure torture that was the Boat & Car Pull. If a more excruciating event has ever been contested, it was likely banned via congressional action shortly thereafter. Why was this event so vile, so extreme, and so epic? Part one involved pulling a Viking Ship with a harness for about 40 ft. Part 2 is where the real fun began, as the already fatigued competitors had to pull a Subaru up an incline with a 2in diameter rope in a seated “arm over arm” pull fashion. Being on an incline, no momentum could be gained on the pulls, so each and every pull was starting from a dead stop, or even worse if you let the rope loose for too long, the car could actually start to reverse direction a little! So how could tough could this actually be? Six ladies (regardless of class) finished the course. It was essentially a contest for distance in some classes.
Amanda Haddix had the fastest performance of any LW novice on the Boat Pull part, but suffered for the effort on the Car Pull. Gina Cravedi took the win at 120 Open, besting Liz Bartolo by a single inch in our closest matchup of the day. Heather Moore took top honors in MW novice with 25’ 6”, and Klaryssa Miller was the first person to break 30 feet on the Car Pull, clocking in with 35 and change, nearly finishing the course. Ashley Flanagan and Julie McGuire went one and two here, both finishing the course to a raucous crowd. The excitement continued at Novice HW as both Stephanie Hines and Kaitlyn Tennant willed the stubborn Subaru across the finish line, the latter doing so without a single second to spare. In the Wonder Woman class it all came down to this, as whoever placed higher between Sharon and Tiffany would win the overall. Emmalie Spina had fought valiantly all day, and pulled to a mark of nearly 24ft. Sharon Moss finished the entire course in the fastest time of anyone to that point at 45.03 seconds. In order to win the event and thus the overall championship, Tiffany needed to best Sharon’s incredible time, and put up the fastest time of anyone in the entire contest. At 40.02 seconds, that is exactly what she did!
Final Standings were:
3rd Amanda Haddix
2nd Bethany Webber
1st Kristin Dotson
3rd Kayla Knotts
2nd Liz Bartolo
1st Gina Cravedi
3rd Melissa Thompson
2nd Ariel Buric
1st Theresa Garee
1st Klaryssa Miller
3rd Jennifer Armstrong
2nd Heather Moore
1st Michelle Cox
3rd Ashley Flanagan
2nd Julie McGuire
1st Katie O’Connor
3rd Stephanie Hines
2nd Shack Shelley
1st Kaitlyn Tennant
3rd Emmalie Spina
2nd Sharon Moss
1st Tiffany Drake
THANK YOU to Dan Ryan Builders for sponsoring the show, believing in what we do at Viking Performance Training, and for supporting women’s strength sports. Thanks to all our staff (you know who you are and you are awesome)! Thanks to everyone that tuned in on the live stream, and thanks to everyone who came to see it live!
Records fell on both sides of the coin at the Maidens of Might Strongwoman Challenge this year. The growth of women’s participation in strength sports has been nothing short of astounding in recent years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. I for one, am excited at the direction this is taking.