'Living Dead' a spirited event

Photo by John Bryant
Laura Letterman makes a 195-pound deadlift.

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff

  The first annual "Night of the Living Dead" dead-lift competition was held at Happy Valley High Saturday night, which featured local talent mixed with regional world-class participants.
  The dead-lift event is only the second one of its kind in the United States, with the other competition held in Florida.
  "I didn't know how this would come off, and I asked my wife how come they don't have any dead-lifting events around here," said event coordinator Alex Campbell. "She said, 'I don't know,' so I said, 'Well if we're going to have them, then I'm going to have to put it on.'"
  Some amazing strength was displayed throughout the event, with weights exceeding 800 pounds being attempted.
  The show started off with Demetrius Maoury putting on a bench-press exhibition.

Photo by John Bryant
Demetrius Maoury bench-presses 441 pounds.

  Maoury is the record holder for the state of Virginia with a bench of 395 pounds at a 165-pound body weight. That mark was shattered when he pushed a personal best of 441 pounds, exceeding the 435 pounds set in the practice gym.
  "I drove six hours on the road getting here from Norfolk, Va. and had a pretty hard day on the road, but once I got here and got some caffine in me with the music, which helped in pumping me up a lot, I felt pretty good," Maoury said.
  Maoury is looking forward to competing in the "Bench America Three" coming this spring, where he needs a mark of 430 pounds to qualify.
  "If I can bench 430 pounds at a state meet next month, then hopefully I'll be able to do the "Bench America Three" in May and the "Bench Press Nationals" in August," he said.
  Three former Happy Valley students competed in the event, with the brothers Lance and Brandon Whitehead turning in personal bests of 420 pounds in the dead-lift.
  Brandon is ranked third in the nation in the USAPL teenage division, along with being a winner of the Bob People's Award, while Lance is also ranked third in the nation in the teenage bench press.
  Michael Everhart was the other former student to lift, but after being away from the weight room for some time, came up just shy of his 420-pound attempt.
  Laura Letterman is a 16-year-old student at Happy Valley, ranking third in the women's USAPL for her weight class. Letterman lifted 225 pounds in the dead-lift, which became a personal best this weekend.
  Elizabethton native Jason Orellana is a 22-year-old who also was part of the festivities with a lift of 475 pounds.
  Mike Nease of Parrottsville is the U.S. record holder for the 18" dead-lift, which he broke at the "Music City Strong Man" with an amazing weight of 1,015 pounds.
  Nease was suffering from a foot injury along with a pulled muscle in his leg, but the 43-year-old veteran still lifted 775 pounds.
  Campbell's effort became a personal best with a weight of 550 pounds, as his dedication to stregnth training for kids has proven to be a key assest for Happy Valley athletics.
  Last, but definitely not least, the overall winner of the event was Travis "The Monster" Mash from Winston Salem, N.C.
  "I was really surprised when I got here, because Elizabethton in the middle of nowhere," Mash said. "I've been before, and here was a great crowd. I'll come back for next year because it was awesome."
  Mash, at 220 pounds, is the world record holder with a combined weight of more than 2,400 pounds lifted in squat, bench and dead-lift.
  A former football player for Appalachian State, Mash has the No. 1-ranked dead-lift in the world, which was set two weeks ago at 799 pounds.
  A lift of 780 pounds was pulled by Mash, but an attempt at a new record didn't happen with his last attempt of 800.
  "Competing two weeks ago is tough -- I've lost a little bit of weight since then," said Mash. "The truth is I was only going to pull about once, but the crowd was into it so I thought, 'Well, let's go for it, and it was close."
  Nease also failed in his attempt of 815 pounds, but the effort still had the crowd energized and excited.
  "I was expecting about 15 lifters, and we were small in numbers, but large in spirit, and the crowd really got into it," said Campbell. "I think the community did a great job of getting behind us, and also the school for letting us have this and the teachers and businesses giving support.
  "I want to especially thank Travis Mash for coming because he's a real busy man. I look forward to holding this every year, and I think the dead did come alive tonight."