Strongman Competition raises funds for Angels of Assisi

Heather “Cookie” Hunter won first place in several events at the St. Patrick’s Day Strongman Competition at the Lancerlot on March 11.
Strongman Competition organizers Chad Clark (on left) and Tyler Perdue (right), owner of Tri-Star Gym, donated $1,500 in proceeds from the event to Angels of Assisi. They have also brought increased awareness of and interest in strength sports to the area.
The axle lift was one of five events in the March 11 Strongman competition.

Strength athletes put on another great show at the St. Patrick’s Day Strongman Competition at the Lancerlot on March 11. The competition raised $1,500 for Angels of Assisi, a cause close to the heart of organizer Chad Clark.

Angels of Assisi is a local non-profit that provides reduced cost medical care to companion animals with emphasis on spaying and neutering to prevent pet overpopulation, and shelter, care and sustenance to companion and domesticated farm animals in need, including an adoption center for homeless dogs and cats and a farm animal sanctuary.

In an effort to increase the interest and participation in strength sports in the region, Clark and Tri-Star Gym owner Tyler Perdue joined forces with the Lancerlot Sports Complex to host the first Strongman Competition in July 2016.

About 50 athletes competed in the most recent event, which included Axle Clean & Press (the athlete must lift the axle from the floor to overhead), a 15” deadlift, tire flips, a Carry Medley (the Farmers Walk and the Hussafel Stone carry), and an Atlas Stones series.

Final winners included:

  • Novice Women<160 pounds: first place Kiara McGuire, second place tie Kristen Miller, and Chelsea Perdue
  • Novice Women > 160 pounds: first place Shanice Hairston, second place Jamie Dean, third place Libby Weiner
  • Women <140 pounds: first place Gabrielle Ammaturo
  • Women 140-160 pounds: first place Claire Harris, second place Lisa Grigley
  • Women 180 plus pounds: first place Heather Hunter, second place Tanya Stone, third place Morgan Brickey
  • Novice Men < 231 pounds: first place tie Tim Einstein and Phl Vermander, third place Daniel Bennett
  • Novice Men > 231 pounds: first place Darren Van Dyke, second place Randall Van Dyke, third place Justin Yun
  • M <200 pounds: first place Michael Hart
  • M HW: first place Chuck Northrop, second place Joseph Visconti, third place Ben Ballard

Heather “Cookie” Hunter won first place in her division in Axle C & P, the 15” deadlift, the Tire Flip, and the Carry Medley. This was her third Strongman Competition

Hunter is originally from Pulaski County and moved to the Roanoke area in 2006. She is an Academic Advisor at Virginia Western Community College.

It’s hard to believe from her performance but she has only been involved with strength training for about three years.

“After I had my little girl in 2012 I needed to find something to help take off the baby weight fast,” said Hunter. “I got up to over 300 pounds. I first started doing Boot Camps which was primarily for weight loss.  It included a lot of High Intensity Interval training, but we didn’t really use heavy weights.  It wasn’t until Tyler Perdue started coaching some of my Boot Camps that we started to add some weightlifting to the workouts.”

“After losing a little over 50 pounds, I wanted more than just Boot Camp so I tried strength training and really liked it,” Hunter said. “I basically owe it all to Tyler for introducing me to strength sports/ training as well as the amazing women and gym family that I get to work out with at Tri-Star Roanoke.”

She will be competing again in late April in Charlotte.

Hunter says her favorite event is the deadlift, where her one rep max is 305 pounds. She says it used to be her least favorite because of continual injuries to her back until Perdue helped her work on her form—which has paid off.

She can bench press 215 pounds and has a 195-pound max in the Overhead Press.

“I think the Stone series is my most challenging because it’s the very last event and it takes a lot of endurance,” noted Hunter. “After four other events, prior, it is tough to get the energy back.”

“I am not involved in powerlifting, but I do strongman/woman competitions which are quite different,” explained Hunter.  “It is incredibly empowering to lift heavy and especially when you get to do it with some pretty amazing women.  This sport has helped me to gain confidence in myself physically and mentally.  It’s a sport that breaks the stereotype of what the world wants a woman to look like and be capable of doing, and it’s nice I don’t have to look like a model to feel comfortable participating.  I like to say ‘I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model, but I sure could deadlift and squat one.’”

She adds, “The Tyler and Chad duo are amazing.  I’m so glad they have been trying to increase the interest and opportunity for strength sports.”

Sponsors for the St. Patrick’s Day Strongman Competition event included Twin Creeks Brewery of Vinton, Roanoke’s Serious Steel Fitness, Elitefts, Hi-Temp Weight Equipment, Mountaineer Brand, Complete Nutrition Roanoke, Cerberus Strength, Spud, Inc., Sport Kilt, KiloSlad, Big Lick Screen Printers, Unbreakable Gear, Warrior Genetics Lab, the Strongman Corporation, the Tri-Star gym, and the Roanoke Barbell Club.

Several of the competitors train with Perdue at Tri-Star gym including Daniel Bennett, Morgan Brickey, Heather Hunter, Kristen Miller, Chelsea Pardue, Shanice Hairston, Libby Weiner, Kiarra McGuire, Autumn Hull, Leigh Stover, Ashleigh Martines, Bre Altice, and Tanner LaPrade.

Clark thanked “Kathleen Sink, Robin Hartman, and all the folks at the Lancerlot—they are so great to work with and take such good care of us. I also want to thank all who came out and supported the event. We had a great crowd.”

Clark says plans are already underway for the next Strongman Competition in October or November 2017.

More photos from the St. Patrick’s Day Strongman Competition can be found on the Vinton Messenger Facebook page.