My US Strongman Nationals: LW Champ Ashley Lawrence

I have been competing in Strongman since June 2012. Last year I qualified for Nas Nationals and decided to compete in Reno. I had never done a two day show before, and it took a lot more out of me than I thought. I ended up finishing 7th in my weight class and 8th overall in the lightweight division. I knew going into it, there would be some fierce competition, but I had hopes of performing a little better than I had.

Over the winter, my training went to crap! I am the Street Department Supervisor in New Middletown Village. This means when it snows, I get called out to plow. Anytime and every time! And man did it snow last winter. Between my crazy work schedule and lack of sleep, I was physically and emotionally drained. I found myself grabbing whatever food I could on my way out the door at 2am and barely making it to the gym three times a week. So I decided I would take this year off to get my rear back in gear.

I train at Team BSS owned by my sister and brother-in-law, Brandy and Shawn Schumaker. Since I had decided to take the year off the get stronger, I offered to help them out at the US Strongman Battle at TeamBSS on June 6th. About two and a half weeks out I had a conversation with Mike Johnston about the show. He asked if I was competing and I told him I hadn’t planned on it. The last time I had trained events was in September. I was too heavy for my weight class. The list goes on. Needless to say he convinced me to do the show. Oh hell why not? It’s at home. My family can all come. My grandpa finally got to watch me compete, on his 90th birthday! And I’ll just have fun with it. In those next two weeks I needed to cut about 10 pounds. So I trained hard, pulled the sled for a mile 5 days a week and cleaned up my diet. Mike also guided me through my first water cut, which wasn’t quite as terrible as I had imagined. I may have sent a few “I’M HEAVIER THAN I WAS THIS MORNING! ARE YOU SURE IT WILL COME OFF!?!?” text messages, but I made weight! I didn’t have my best day, but I qualified for Nationals. Which was only three weeks away! And I thought why not!

I couldn’t afford any time off before Nationals so I started my training back up on Monday. In these few weeks I trained my butt off! Literally! I didn’t have to water load this time around and weighed in at 130.1. The sweaty car ride with Brandy (who was enjoying her first water cut) probably didn’t hurt either.

The first event was the yoke. I felt pretty confident that I would do well in this event. I had always trained heavier than contest weight so it shouldn’t have been a problem. About half way through my run I felt off. I dropped the yoke about 10 feet shy of the finish line. Anyone that has competed on a shiny concrete floor knows how slick they can be. When it hit the floor it slid forward. Crap!!! I was sure I would get a two second slide penalty. I quickly got back under the bar and ran it across the line. To my surprise I didn’t get the penalty and still managed to win the event.

Next up was the log. I dreaded this event. I had only been able to get 4 reps in training before I got dizzy and thought I may pass out. Brandy who was in my class was on one end of the floor and I was on the other. We had been pretty close in training but I had no clue how she was doing in the event. I had 6 reps before I had to drop the log. I picked it back up for another two then had to drop it again. I did manage one more before time ran out. I ended up hitting a PR with 9 reps, which was good enough to tie Brandy for first in the event.

The car deadlift was the third event. I knew this would be my best event. I was hoping to pull at least 15. Then one of the 123 girls pulled 21 reps. This time Brandy and I were right next to each other. On my first rep my feet were a little too far out in front of me so I reset and started pulling. I counted till I hit 21, looked to my right and Brandy was still going. I wasn’t sure where she was so I gave it my all and got 4 more reps before I dropped to my knees. I won the event with 25 reps.

The frame carry worried me a little bit because I didn’t have access to one in training. In warmups the pick felt a little harder than I had imagined but it was do-able. I gripped the handles, stood up, and I was off. As I crossed the finish line and dropped the handles, I tried to jump over the front of the frame. Tried! I ended up landing directly on the frame with my left foot and rode it for what seemed like an eternity! I thought, this is it, this is how it all ends! My life flashed before my face, but I pulled out a 2nd in the event.

The last event of the day was atlas stones. Yet again Brandy and I were competing head to head. Being 4’11’’ we will just say they are not my favorite. In training I found myself trying to rush through them and throwing them directly into the platform instead of ON TOP of the platform. The 100 went up in one motion and the 125 was cake. At the 150 I had to make myself slow down and finish it. I did the same with the 175 and 200. As I was lapping the 200 I could see that Brandy had finished before me. I had to get that last stone! And I did.

We didn’t know the final scores until the banquet later that night. Brandy and I were close all day and I knew there were two or three other girls that loaded all the stones as well, so I wasn’t sure where that put me. But at the end of the day, I was just glad that I got to spend some quality time with my big sis doing what we love! Winning the title United States Strongman LWW National Champion was icing on the cake!

I want to thank:

John Albrecht for putting on such a great show and the whole crew for helping to keep things running smoothly and getting the athletes where they needed to be.

Willie Wessels for starting such an amazing organization!

Mike Johnston for twisting my arm and talking me into qualifying and competing at Nationals.


Willie Wessels, President/Owner

John Albrecht, Vice President

© 2020 by United States Strongman,Inc.

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