The summer months bring in the peak of a strength athletes season with the largest National Events in their respective sports.  USAW Nationals for weightlifting and RAW Nationals (unequipped powerlifting) were attended by some of Lab’s top athletes and of course with Coach Justin Thacker overseeing everyone’s competition.

July 18th-22nd marked the 6th annual USAPL RAW Nationals in Orlando, FL.  This event has grown excessively large due to the trend away from geared power lifting and the abandonment and folding of some long standing power lifting federations that have been around for many years.  The growing USAPL membership is largely due to its stance on maintaining a drug free sport.  This 4 day event hosted a coaches seminar and some tenacious competition.  New American Records were set in the majority of weight classes and divisions, from teens to Senior Masters (70-74 yo), by both men and women.

The Lab’s very own strength coach Drew Thompson weighed into the 93 kilo class.  A fierce weight class filled with veteran lifters.  This was Drew’s first experience at a national level meet.  Drew showed a strong performance in his squat going 3/3 hitting a meet “PR” of 484 on his 3rd attempt.  Next event being the bench press and Drew’s strong point in his game got called on some technical errors and posted a 341 lb bench press.  That is over 1.5x body weight and this aint your football coaches bench press there is a nice long pause at the chest before you are allowed to press through it.  Nice work Drew!  Deadlifts being the last of the events in the competition can always be a tough part of the day.  After stressing your body out over a long time period, it can be hard to put together decent numbers.  Not for Drew, he pulled his way through to completing 2 out of 3 attempts, with a 507 lb best.  Drew’s total for the day was 1332 lbs.  Admittedly not his best performance at a meet, but when asked how he felt about the day, “overall learned a lot from the meet and got to see a new level of lifting. Big guys, big numbers, very impressive lifts. I’ll come back stronger and better for the next meet and know exactly what to expect. Disappointing day, but a good learning experience.”

In a very early Sunday morning competition, Chris Thacker steps on the platform at roughly 8 am with an opener that will set a new meet PR for him at 540 lbs.  Unfortunately, he missed his opener, called for a technicality and was red lighted.  The second attempt, he repeated at 540, which went much better and Chris received a good lift.  Going into the bench press Chris was leading his flight and closed the event out with another meet PR at 357.5 lbs.  Classically the deadlift has been Thacker’s nemesis and today it would prove to be the same.  Chris did close out with a 550 lb pull, which again is another meet PR, but pales in comparison to some of his training numbers.  Overall Thacker totaled 1447.5 lbs, landing him in 16th place in a pool of 50 competitors.  This was also Thacker’s first national competition.  Chris’ brother and Coach, Justin Thacker commented, “next year he will be on the podium.  Three PR’s in one day!  Excellent work!”

Also taking place this weekend were The CornHusker State Games throughout the state of Nebraska.  The CornHusker State Games are an annual congregation of individual and team sports that is organized annually to test the state’s athletes.  The games also serve as an open invitational to the neighboring state’s athletes, all in the spirit of competition.  This year Lab Rat Lucas Novotny competed in the 198 lbs. weight class in Power Lifting.  Lucas shows great promise in the sport and is also recognized as a notable Strength Coach, working for programs such as the University of Nebraska and Lindenwood University.  This was Lucas first test at the CornHusker State games and proved to be a successful one.  Lucas went on to win his weight class totaling at 1349 lbs, hitting good lifts of a 440 lb squat, a 336 lb bench press and a 573 lb deadlift.

Watch for Team LAB in upcoming competitions such as The Lab Gym Open – Olympic Weightlifting Meet and CrossFit Competition on November 2nd,  The River’s Edge Powerlifting meet in Granite City in November and the American Open for USAW and USAPL.  For information on getting involved with Team LAB, please contact Chris Thacker at



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