XENIA — If someone was just passing by the Strongman competition Saturday at the Greene County Fair, they would have probably thought it was a team sport. It was common for someone to be struggling to lift a weight, and for a competitor to run across the field to shout and encourage them to finish the press.
“That’s just part of the sport. Everybody gets out there and they encourage each other. That’s what it’s for. We’re not a cutthroat sport, I guess you could say,” said Orie Barnett, participant and sponsor of the fourth Strongman competition at the fair.
The contest pits different weight classes in five different events of strength. This year’s contest included dumbbell presses, deadlifts, “The Conan Wheel,” barrel carries, and lifting Atlas Stones. According to Barnett, the winners of this contest qualify for nationals where they have the potential to become a professional Strongman.
“The fair asked us three years ago to do them a show, and we came in and they were impressed, and honestly from day one we were asked to come back,” he said. “All of this is sanctioned and brought up through the lead office in St. Louis Missouri. We’ve been doing Strongman contests since 2003, and have had someone go from amateur to pro.”
Barnett helps train those interested in Strongman competitions at his Christ Strength Gym in Xenia.
“The gym trains pretty much exclusively in Strongman sports. So if somebody wants to pull a truck, a car or lift a rock, that’s what we do.”
Barnett said that he liked what he saw from the participants on Saturday.
Steve Schmidt, winner of the Open Heavyweight division, had competed in Canada at a professional level, as well as at the Arnold Classic at the amateur division. He came points away from first place at that Columbus event, which would have made him a pro at that point. He’s been injured for most of the year and this was his first contest back. Rob Thompson won the tie-breaking tug-of-war over Rocco Walsh to take second in the weight class.
Barnett took first in the 50-plus Heavyweight division. Dale Lewis took second.
“I’m 53 and I’ve competed since 1999. I’ve been within the top-10 ranking my whole career. I enjoy the sport, and I just wish more people would get into it,” he said. “More fans are coming out over here and the thing is, they’re staying in their seats to watch it.”
Xenia native Brook Fudge won the Lightweight class, while Josh Yerian, also from Xenia, took second. Pete Wensal took first in the 60-plus Master Lightweight class. Jason Hubbell won the CABL Heavyweight class over Billy Ballard. Colbyn Roby took first in the Teen Heavyweight Class, which also featured David Brockmeier. Sam Rogers took the 50-plus Master Lightweight division over John Roby. Matt Goree took first in the Open Lightweight division. Derek Roby and Sean Dougherty took second and third respectively.
Zach Gregory is staff writer who covers Greene County sports and news. You can reach him at 937-372-4444, ext. 124.