Pirates Compete
in Strongman Competition

by Eric Gilmore

On a hot and humid Thursday afternoon, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson peered through his sunglasses from a long distance as his players were competing for bragging rights and pride.

Part of Hudson cringed while watching highly energetic and somewhat crazed strength coach Michael Golden challenge his team in a Strongman competition. The other half of Hudson chuckled as some of his athlete’s bodies succumbed to the grueling events.

“I liked the way they competed against each other,” said Golden. “There were incredible efforts out there.”

The competition provided a measuring stick for the team. After undergoing daily weight and conditioning workouts throughout the summer months, players finally got the chance to have some fun. It was more fun for the players that succeeded while the stragglers were quickly humbled.

The event was originally scheduled for later this week, but the players were jawing at each other so much that the coaches decided proceed a week early. Golden, who has been working directly with the football team since his hire, combined with the rest of his weight staff to oversee the event.

In the past, the coaching staff tried to find the strongest individual. Because the physical requirements for a defensive end and a quarterback are so different, it is often hard to judge them apart.

To combat the situation, Golden divvied up the entire squad into ten teams of nine players each. The most prominent seniors were given captain status as Golden sprinkled teams with players from each position.

The captains consisted of Gary Freeman, Guy Whimper, Hunter Wood, Richard Koonce, Lorenza Pickett, Shawn Levesque, Chris Moore, Jermarcus Veal, Jason Pender and Chris Sellers. The captains were charged with deciding which players would compete in the nine events.

“Coach Holtz and everybody else is big on this being the senior’s team,” Golden said. “If they want to win and do well, the seniors have to lead. This is another opportunity for them to use their leadership capabilities.”

The nine events included the Military Press (135 lb.), Weighted Sled Run, Sled Push, Weight Stack, Relay Race (800 meters), 25 lb. Hold, Farmer’s Walk, Sled Pull and the daunted Blackbeard’s Challenge.

The players competed for a trophy, which strangely resembled the Captain Morgan logo. The other teams weren’t quite as happy with their prize as the second-place finishers earned a pair of socks while the third-place team grabbed some purple mouthpieces.

The winning team was captained by a healthy Shawn Levesque. His team included Lance Neisz, Mike MacDonaugh, Zach Baker, Durwin Lamb, Van Eskeridge, Reggie Williams, Wilson Raynor, Wendell Chavis and Erode Jean.

Individual highlights included Lorenza Pickett embarrassing the competition in the Military Press. In 60 seconds, Pickett pressed 135 pounds 49 times. To put that in perspective, try doing 49 jumping jacks in a minute.

Other players that shined included Shauntae Hunt despite his disqualification for an improper grip in the Sled Push. The sled’s weight was estimated to be at least 250 pounds. Gary Freeman and Eric Graham held their own in the sled events.

Bryson Bowling and Chris Johnson both sped through the 800 meter relay. Bobby Good and James Pinkney won their respective heats for the Weight Stack competition.

The most interesting competition was Blackbeard’s Challenge. It was a Golden concoction of 20 yards of a crab walk, tumble roll, tire roll, sled push and agility cones combined with a 100 yard sprint.

Jarrett Wiggins, Richard Koonce, Zach Slate and Jay Sonnhalter all did well in the event. On the flip side, without naming names, a couple of the participant’s legs turned to Jell-O on the return sprint.

“Everybody did a great job,” Golden said. “The guy’s legs were falling off and they still had to run 100 yards. Overall, it went better than we expected it to.”

Eric Gilmore