2021 USA Weightlifting Nationals Highlights

The best Olympic weightlifting athletes in America are competing for glory and setting records right and left. Here's what's happening at USAW National Championships!

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From the end of June through Fourth of July weekend, Detroit, Michigan, is serving as the battleground for the best Olympic weightlifters from around the United States. The USA Weightlifting (USAW) Nationals event is the biggest national competition in the sport, hosting everyone from teenagers to masters lifters who have been at it for decades.

Here are just a few of the many highlights from throughout the competition!

Open Class Highlights

The final days of the 2021 USA Weightlifting Nationals featured the main event of the week in Detroit, where elite open-class athletes—including most of the US Olympic team—took their turns at the platforms. And yes, some history was made!

Mattie Rogers Sets American Records

Mattie Rogers is already a shining light of USA weightlifting and hopes to take the gold in Tokyo later this month at the Olympic games. If you believe in momentum in weightlifting, then she built about the most you could imagine in Detroit. In what could be considered weightlifting's equivalent of a perfect game, the 81-kg competitor went six for six, nailing all her attempts, setting three American records, and taking the gold at Nationals. The snatch record was already in her possession, but she topped it by 1 kilogram, then followed it up with a grinder of a final clean and jerk.

  • Snatch: 112 kg (247 lbs.)
  • Clean and Jerk: 143 kg (315 lbs.)
  • Total: 255 kg (562 lbs.)

CJ Cummings Takes Gold in 73-Kilogram Category

It is less than three weeks until the Olympics, but CJ Cummings, contributor to Bodybuilding.com's guide, "How to Master the Olympic Lifts," isn't one for relaxing. Like his fellow Olympian Mattie Rogers, Cummings also went six for six, and each of his lifts looked seriously easy. This win gives him his third National championship to go along with his four Junior World Championships. Now he hopes to add Olympic gold to that portfolio. His best lifts were as follows:

  • Snatch: 140 kg (308 lbs.)
  • Clean and Jerk: 175 kg (386 lbs.)
  • Total: 315 kg (694 lbs.)

Laura Alexander Comes from Behind to Win

The week of competition concluded with 87-kg competitor Laura Alexander taking the victory in her division. Her best snatch of 103 kg (227 lbs.) left her in second place, but she made up ground and sealed the deal on her second attempt on the clean and jerk with a good lift of 134 kilograms (295 lbs.). The 237-kg (522 lbs.) total made her the final champion to be crowned at Nationals.

Junior and Under-25 Championships Highlights

At the beginning of Nationals' week, the younger athletes kicked off the action. Now we've moved on to the Junior and Under-25 categories, which has seen more serious weight being lifted by amazing young men and women. Here are a few standout examples of the talent that American weightlifting has to offer.

Leila Cook Totals 172 kg to Win 55-kg Junior National Title

In the Junior Nationals' Women's 55-kg division, Leila Cook had the championship clinched by her second attempt at the clean and jerk. She opened the day by going two for three on the snatch, with her best lift at 75 kg (165 lbs.). Her opening attempt of the second lift was a big step up to 94 kg (207 lbs.). She then followed that up with her winning lift of 97 kg (214 lbs.). The total of 172 kg (379 lbs.) was enough for her to take gold in Detroit. She said on her Instagram account that her competition would be the Pan-American Games, giving her the chance to show her strength on the world stage.

Gage Senty Goes 6 for 6 to Win

Having a perfect day on the platform is always a highlight for a competitive weightlifter. Doing it for the win is even better. In Gage Senty's case, his six for six effort was good enough to take the gold in the Under 21 men's super-heavyweight division. Not only did he nail 132 kg (291 lbs.) on his final attempt at the snatch, he also managed 171 kg (377 lbs.) on his third clean and jerk attempt. Those lifts gave him a total over 300 kg, rarefied air for a young lifter. He stood atop the podium with a 303-kg (667-lb.) total to his credit.

Olympian Kuinini Manumua Wins Over 87-kg National Under 25 Title

Some of the lifters at Nationals will also be competing at the Olympics in Tokyo later this summer. One is Tonga's Kuinini Manumua, in the women's Over 87-kg division. She now has momentum going into the Games thanks to winning this event in Michigan. Her best lifts were a 104-kg (228 lb.) snatch and a mighty 127-kg (280 lb.) clean and jerk, for a seriously impressive total of 231 kg (509 lbs.).

Youth and Junior Championships Highlights

Hampton Morris Sets Three American Records and Takes Gold

In the 16-17-year-old 61-kilogram category, Hampton Morris had as great a day as any lifter could ask for. He set three American records in the competition on the way to claiming top honors in his weight class. His total was 117 kg (258 lbs.) on the snatch and 154 kg (339 lbs.) on the clean and jerk, setting a new total record of 2,571 kg (597.5 lbs.). As a result, he also will leave Michigan with the gold medal around his neck.

Katie Estep Sets Clean and Jerk Record Twice

In the women's 16-17-year-old 55-kilogram division, Katie Estep saved her best lift for last. After topping out on the snatch at 82 kg (180.5 lbs.), she missed her first clean and jerk attempt. Undeterred, she nailed 98 kg (216 lbs.) successfully on the second attempt, a new American record. But Estep wasn't done. She added 5 kg to the bar and set the American record again with a lift of 103 kg (227 lbs.). Her total of 185 kg (408 lbs.) secured the win and the American record for total, as well.

Mark Chavez Wins 55-kg Junior National Championship

After the Youth groups were finished, the Junior Nationals began. Men's 55-kg competitor Mark Chavez is this year's first big winner. He went just one for three on the snatch, with his good lift being with 80 kg (176 lbs.) Then, the clean and jerk set him apart from the pack. He went three-for-three on his attempts with 100, 105, and 110 kg (242 lbs.) respectively. His 190-kg total was good enough for him to take the gold in Detroit.