Dawn Highhouse

Spartan Open Weightlifting Championships

Posted by

38th Spartan Open Weightlifting Meet Report

On Saturday, April 13, I competed in the 38th Spartan Open Weightlifting Championship. This event was first held in 1973 – the year I was born! But after 1974, the Spartan Open went dormant for a few years until it was started again in 1982. That is why the Open is a few years younger than me. (You can read the complete history by Fred Lowe on the event website.)

Spartan Open Weightlifting gear, ready to go
My gear for the Spartan Open Weightlifting Championship, ready to go. Lifters, singlet, bobby pins…

When you register for the Spartan Open Weightlifting Championship, you submit your totals. Your totals are the total of your two lifts – the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. My totals meant that I was in the first session of the day. So, I packed every single thing I thought I might need the night before and set the alarm for 4:30 in the morning. When it went off, I threw on my clothes, feed the dogs, let them out, and was on the road by 5:00 a.m. The expressways are very quiet at that hour and driving was easy. I had even filled my tank with the gas the night before and stopped at an ATM for a few dollars, just in case. I usually listen to podcasts on long drives, but that morning it was my “sweat and swagger” Spotify playlist all the way!

Weighing In

The Spartan Open Weightlifting Championship is held at CrossFit Shift, which is almost exactly an hour from my house. So, at 6:00 a.m. I parked my car. Standing in the lobby with other female lifters waiting to be weighed, I found it interesting how many said they had to cut weight to hit their weight class.

Meet day nutrition
Not knowing what the food situation would be, I packed my own. Glad I did!

My Coach had registered me at 71 kilos. Registration was back in February, on a day when I was out of town. Registration for an event like this is a little like buying concert tickets, you need to be on your computer the day of. I was down in Louisville that day at a trade show, and deep in an exhibit hall. Since there was no way I could get to a computer in time, I asked my coach to do it for me. When I competed last fall at West Michigan Muscle, I was in the 76-kilo class, but he put me in at 71. In case you aren’t up on your metric conversions, that is an 11-pound difference!

But as I have said, I’ve been working on my own nutrition for a while now, and over the last six weeks, I have found something that is working wonders for me. It’s easy and fits my lifestyle, which is what a good nutrition plan is all about. So, weighing in was no problem. I came in well under the 71-kilo mark with room to spare.

The Spartan Open Weightlifting Meet

Backstage at CrossFit Shift
A view of one of my lifts from the warm-up area. Now you can feel like you were there!

Once I weighed in, I found a spot to settle in back in the warm-up area. I ate some breakfast, (I had packed a thermos of coffee and a delicious quiche from Nantucket Bakery) and relaxed until my Coach arrived. Once he arrived and settled in, we started warm-ups. It’s a strange thing because you weigh in two hours before the meet starts. That seems like a lot of time to kill, but before long, everything starts moving quickly.

A Spartan Open Weightlifting official comes back and runs through the rules that new lifters might not know. You get in line so you can be announced. Then you step on the platform and everything starts!

The lifts are something of a blur to me. I have a ton of fun, but the details get blurry. Time is funny. My coach tries to make sure I stay warm and ready to lift but don’t get exhausted. I basically shut off my brain and just try to do whatever he tells me to do!

Olympic Weightlifting

In the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, there are two lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. You get three opportunities at each movement. Your total score is the total of your two heaviest completed lifts combined. You start with the Snatch. I successfully completed my first and last Snatches but missed the middle one. The heaviest was 38 kilos. We take a break and return for the Clean and Jerks. I hit my first two but missed my third one. The highest weight I made was 49 kilos, so my meet total was 87 kilos. Both of these were meet PRs (personal records for me.) In addition, they will qualify me for the State Championship later this summer.

West Michigan Barbell Club at the Spartan Open Weightlifting Meet
The West Michigan Barbell Club at the Spartan Open Weightlifting Championship.

I had friends from West Michigan Barbell Club lifting at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. and there was no way I was going to leave before I saw them lift! I was really glad I packed lunch and dinner. During a break, I went out to my car and enjoyed some chilly April sunshine while I ate my packed lunch. It was a long day to sit inside a gym – we left at 8:30 p.m., but it was so much fun!

Several of my friends took home medals. I was not one of them that day. There are a lot of badass women in my weight-class lifting seriously heavy things over their heads. I am in awe of some of them! But this is only my second meet and I am already planning the next one. I consider that a success right there!

Spartan Open Weightlifting
It might be silly, but I was so excited to see my name on the shirt!

Interested in what it looks like? Here are a couple of quick videos:

Here is a Clean and Jerk.
And this is what it looks like when you miss a lift!


Leave a Reply