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2018 June - NAGS Championship - Vinnie Rivellese


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Jedd Johnson, Eric Roussin, and everyone who helped them deserve the gratitude of the 18 contestants and the spectators for hosting and producing a professional and successful event.  Thanks, guys and gals!

This was just my second comp, as I am new to grip sports, having started training in November at the young age of 48 1/2.  I am now a slightly more seasoned 49, so next year, at least as long as the Nationals are held after my April 27 birthday, I will  be able to compete directly against fellow 50+ Master Mike Rinderle.  Oh wait -- guess I would be better off staying in my weight class, because Mike will never drop to 83kg.  Oh wait, Dan Fleming.  I already asked him to put on a few pounds and he was a little cagey with me about that, so I guess all I can do is lose 20 pounds to hit the 74kg class, and hope Nigel "the kid" Blackburn does NOT gain weight and meet me there.

Those are three names of three super competitive, grip strong, good guys whom I had seen only in text on the grip board until yesterday.  Pleasure to meet you!  You are not the only three inspirations I met there, but you and the rest fit into this macho/geek hybrid sport where everyone is welcome as long as they like to squeeze and crush shit.  Or even just to watch us do that.

Then there is mighty Joe Sullivan, who came so close to winning his weight class even without knowing how to set a gripper.  Joe, I, too, have a problem with sets.  Chez has persuaded me to give it a go and see if I can up my numbers with some set practice.  I agree with you that there is something satisfying about TNS closing a gripper than some strong dudes can't close no matter what they do.  But, there are some strong dudes who can close monster bigger grippers than we can, and one of them insists that setting is part of that success.  I'm gonna give it a go.

I was also happy to see that I was far from the oldest competitor (I was the oldest at my first comp in February).  Here, we had Mike, Bernie, and Gus in the masters group all over 50, and I hope they go again next year when I am also a master, so I can ... well, not be the oldest yet again.

So my thoughts on the events:

Grippers - I closed 135, then 140, then failed twice on 145.  I've closed up to 149 rated grippers, but I never practice block set, and it cuts me down a bit.  I was actually satisfied with the 140, as I got only 138 at my last comp.  I would like to see a TNS or NS gripper event some time, maybe in a medley (e.g., have a COC 1.5 be the 2 point choice, then 2 is 3, 2.5 is 4, and 3 is 5, and you have to TNS it for the points).  Joe, I know you're with me on this one.

Euro - I pulled 172, 182 (plus or minus 1 or 2 because I think Jedd was actually aware of small variations in the plate weights and was calculating more precisely than adding the numbers on the plates).  I missed on 188, twice, although I floated it.  My PR is 193 and I've floated 200, but since every Euro is a little different, I am pretty happy with getting that close to my PR the first time I ever did Euro in competition.  I think Jedd managed to run this very smoothly, and I heard others saying it could have taken twice as long.

Napalm's Nightmare - here I was nervous because of the weirdness of trying to hit the cross bar.  I don't know if I could have done it without standing on the plates, and I know the stance issue really screwed over Chris, which sucked.  I got lucky that the single plate got me high enough, because the two looked awkward.  So because I was nervous about the stance, I was a bit too conservative, and I pulled 235, 250, 260, 270.  I had a little left and was considering trying 300 just to see, but I figured that would just tire me out for the next events.  I should have started higher and done a more ambitious fourth attempt; my PR is 280 and I think there was a chance i could have done more.  I'm not sure what to say about the stance issue.  Other than that, I like that implement and would not mind seeing it contested again, but maybe the set up should be analyzed.  Maybe just lockout should be enough?  The big guys will still win.

Medley - FUN!  I had never done one before.  I did 2 pull ups (didn't think I could do any after that morning since I suck at pull ups even fresh) for 3 points, the smallest blob for 2, the 25 plate hub lift for 2, the two 25s pinch for 3, the sledge choke for 3, the face lever for 2, the anvil for 4 (could have gotten 5 on that, tried after, I should have known because I am good for my size on anvil and the big guys were saying it was way too easy), the key pinch for 4, the dumbbell lift for 3, the full dumbbell blob for 3, rolling handle for 3 (32 total) -- like Big Joe, I completely forgot the 5 10s pinch!  I can do 4 easily, so too bad I left that out for another 4, but playing it cool and doing it right is also part of learning how to compete, so I will do better next time.

Wrist Roller - ok, could not finish that, and ripped up my thumb not doing so.  Mike has this one pegged right.  Hate.  But, I do need to do more wrist work.  I borrowed Anton's 8 pound sledge to get myself a little better in that arena.

So I think I finished 14 out of 18 or so, and I might well have finished ahead of everyone lighter than me and behind everyone heavier than me -- which I guess means I am doing fine!  

Guys, thanks for being enthusiastic representatives of a sport and hobby that is healthy and fun; the positive vibes all around grip stuff are part of what makes it such an enticing pastime. 

I'm in!

- I'm also Vin

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great write up! sounds like an awesome competition. Wish I could have made it out this year.

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Great write-up Vinnie. I think you really captured the essence of what we do and why we do it. You did an awesome job brother.  Was fun meeting you and I look forward to hanging with you again.

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Vinnie, good summary and analysis. It was great to compete with you! You have a Joe Montana persona when competing--not flustered at all and ready to smash the next attempt regardless of how the last one turned out. Great skill to have!

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