My Bloody Valentine powerlifting meet brings strength athletes to centerstage

Spectators, athletes and supporters at The Garage wait in anticipation as the first lift of the night gets underway. (Taylor Marie Crowder)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In the heart of what has become a standout community gym, skin would meet metal as titans battled for the top spot to be called the strongest in the community. The air was vibrant with the sounds of clanging weights, roaring cheers and pumping music as the strength athletes moved through the three primary lifts in competitive powerlifting: the squat, bench and deadlift. This was the scene Saturday night, Feb. 24, at the My Bloody Valentine powerlifting meet at The Garage, a place that has become a beloved home for many of the strength sports events in the region.

This year, the top male and female athletes were not just vying for personal records and bragging rights, but also for a significant prize – 25% of the overall pot, a lucrative incentive that added an extra layer of excitement to the competition. The winners were determined using the DOTS system, an equitable method that levels the playing field by considering an athlete’s weight, allowing for fair comparisons across different weight classes.

The Garage was packed with spectators, athletes and supporters, creating a rowdy environment that fueled the competitors’ fire. Each lift was met with a booming of yells and cheers, pushing the athletes to dig deep and perform at their best. It was a testament to the power of community that The Garage and the powerlifting sport has created. The crowd understood its role in the heat of the competition, providing crucial energy to each competitor, amplifying the many hours they spent training behind the scenes.

Amid the adrenaline-pumping action, Mrs. Macias, a beloved figure in The Garage community who has served at numerous events held by the gym, served up her famous homemade tamales and tacos, adding a flavorful twist to the day’s event. Mrs. Macias’s son, Arnulfo “Arnie” Macias, was one of the competitors in the event. Her stand became a gathering point for attendees late into the night, offering a taste of home and a moment of warmth on a chilly Alabama night.

The event culminated in the announcement of the overall winner, as well as the top male and female competitors. The use of the DOTS system meant that every athlete, regardless of weight class, had a shot at the title, making the competition fierce and fair.

Trinity Martinez secured second place in the female bracket with a DOTS score of 389.3 and an overall total of 765 across the three lifts, while Andrea Armstrong clinched first place with a DOTS score of 540.7 and an overall total of 1,150.

Among the men, Austin Blair would take second place with a DOTS score of 465.7 and an impressive 1,780 across the three lifts, while Chris Lentini would edge out Blair to take first place with a DOTS score of 468.7 with an overall total of 1,500.

The overall champion, who stood above both brackets would be Andrea Armstrong with the impressive 540.7 DOTS score. Already a record holder in Alabama, Armstrong surpassed her previous best of 1,124.40 pounds, lifting a total of 1,150 pounds across the three disciplines.

The three heaviest lifts recorded at the event were:

  • Josh Kritner – Squat – 730 pounds
  • Josh Kritner – Bench Press – 460 pounds
  • Austin Blair – Deadlift – 675 pounds

Coach and owner of Cullman Barbell, Zack Gordon, shared his thoughts on the success of the night and what the future holds for powerlifting in Cullman, saying, “It went surprisingly well. It was fruitful for everyone and did good things for everybody. It was good for the sport like we hoped it would be. It brought the attention to Cullman.”

Gordon expressed satisfaction with the outcome and optimism about expanding the sport’s reach, particularly among younger athletes.

“You can expect to see more events in the future. We will be opening team events. We will have teams of four, with up to 10 teams, 40-person competitions,” Gordon added. “More reach into the area is also a goal, looking to bring youth up. We would love to see more kids participate. I plan to start offering help to kids that want to do it, maybe offering some free training to teenagers that are interested in powerlifting. All event-centric training.”

The Garage is located at 4330 County Road 703 in Cullman. For more information, call 256-962-0463 or check out its Facebook page. For more information on training in powerlifting or future powerlifting events around Cullman, call Zack Gordon at 256-590-6371 or follow Cullman Barbell on Facebook.

All images provided by Taylor Marie Crowder. For more information on her professional photography business, contact Taylor on Instagram @thegritandthegrain.

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