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
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
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
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
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
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.”