By John Bombatch
XENIA — There may have been a smaller than usual number of competitors in Saturday’s Greene County Fair Strongman competition, but that didn’t stop anyone from having fun.
“We had a few competitors enter a weightlifting event in Dayton, so our numbers are down from previous years. We’re still going to have a good time,” said organizer Orie Barnett, of the ChristStrength gym in Xenia.
Contestants competed in five events:
First, was a bench press where each weightlifter pressed a bar (attached to a metal apparatus weighing 241 pounds) until their arms where extended three times, with extra weight quickly being added to the bar with each repetition.
The men were lifting nearly 400 pounds at the maximum, while the two women — good friends Theresa Garee of Columbus, and Sunshine Tester of Fairborn — were lifting close to 300.
The next test of strength was a Wheel Barrow carry. Each weightlifter was timed to see how fast they could haul a severely weighted down wheel barrow 50 feet with varying sizes of loads. This was no commercial wheel barrow from the local hardware store. This 150-pound wheel barrow had specially designed posts for adding barbell weights onto it (as if 150 pounds wasn’t enough of a challenge).
Aaron Hoaglen, a quiet wall of a man from the Xenia area, carried 840 pounds the 50-foot distance om 10.65 seconds, and made it look as if he were bringing a load of vegetables back from the garden.
Tester, who was only returning to competition at the behest of her good friend Theresa, turned in a better women’s time (7.88 seconds) while hauling 240-pounds on the wheel barrow.
“Who invited you?” laughed Tester, who moved the same 50-foot distance in 8 seconds flat.
Barnett and several other contestants invited fair goers from the crowd to try their abilities on the various apparatus. Strongman veteran Sam Rogers let his mother lift the 150-pound wheel barrow. She had thought he was helping her hold it, until she looked down at her hands and realized that she was the only one holding it up.
“See mom? A lot of this is mental,” he told her. “You thought I was helping you, didn’t you? That was all you!”
Everyone applauded as each fair goer tried the wheel barrow event. Some of the fair goers participated in the other events as well.
The third event was the Axle Lift, which wasn’t really a car or truck axle at all. It just felt that way.
The weightlifting bar weighed around 45 pounds or so, but it was extra thick in circumference. Contestants had to lift the bar (the women lifted 135 pounds, men 245) with their knuckles facing forward away from their torsos. That placed most of the weight on the competitors’ hands and fingers, and subsequently made the bar near impossible to lift for any extended period of time.
Garee held her lift for 49 seconds to lead with women. The men’s best was 41 seconds, held by one of the fair goers!
Conan’s Wheel was the fourth event. The 200-pound device is a long metal bar attached at one end to a heavy barrel that allows the bar to rotate on an axis. A metal basket near the outer end of the bar enables evil coaches or teammates to add more weight.
Each contestant grips the bar from underneath, lifts it and then does their best to carry that designated weight around the circle in 60 seconds or less.
The more than 4-hour demonstration concluded with Stone lifts, which is a lot like high jumping. But instead of the contestant clearing a designated bar height, the contestants were doing everything they could to “hurl” large stones ranging in weight from 126 pounds for the women, to 280 pounds for the strongest men, over the bar.
Again, Hoaglen was one of the top Stone throwers. He and middle weight champ Jeff Brewer both cleared the 56-inch height with their 280-pound stones.
Awards were handed out after the events, and a group picture was also taken of the contestants who had competed in all five competitions.
“This was a small show, but I really enjoyed it. Guys like Sam and me, we just enjoy the sport and like to share it with the public,” Barnett said. “I’m just glad that everybody stayed healthy and didn’t get hurt. It was a fun time had by all. Thank you!”
“You’ll feel it tomorrow, don’t worry,” Brewer added.