2021 Kern US Open Recap — No World Record Was Safe in San Diego

Numerous changes of the guard were made.

The 2021 Kern US Open has given powerlifting fans a lot to talk about since it took place from April 24-25. Many world records were set, a couple of divisions saw new lifters claim the top of the leaderboard, and fans watching in person in San Diego, CA, or on the live stream, got to witness the heaviest raw deadlift ever pulled by a woman. It is not a platitude to call the 2021 Kern US Open monumental. 

If you weren’t able to catch the action, then keep on reading. Below, we’ve compiled the overall results and a list of the standout moments from the meet. 


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2021 Kern US Open Champions

Competitors were vying for records in their respective divisions, but Kern awarded cash prizes to the top three lifters overall. To ensure a level playing field, these placings were calculated using a Wilks score — which takes the lifter’s total weight lifted compared to his or her body weight into consideration. The lifter with the highest Wilks score across all divisions wins the overall meet.

Men’s Overall Winners

  • First Place — Chad Penson (642 Wilks Points), $25,000
  • Second PlaceDan Bell (632 Wilks Points), $10,000
  • Third PlaceJohn Haack (619 Wilks Points), $5,000

As for the women competing at this meet, Marianna Gasparyan took the top honors in the 56-kilogram division and the overall title with a Wilks score of 692. Her best squat was 255 kilograms, and she benched 130 kilograms on her second attempt. On the deadlift, she pulled 200 kilograms. Hunter Henderson finished as the runner-up on Wilks points. Ashley Garcia stood at the bronze position on the final podium.

Women’s Overall Winners

  • First PlaceMarianna Gasparyan, (692 Wilks Points) $25,000
  • Second Place— Hunter Henderson (672 Wilks Points), $10,000
  • Third Place — Ashley Garcia (644 Wilks Points), $5,000

2021 Kern US Open Highlights

The records below all occurred in the Raw With Wraps division. At this meet — sanctioned by the World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) — lifters could wear knee sleeves instead of knee wraps for squats (John Haack did) but lifts only counted in the Raw W/ Wraps category. With that said, here are the top moments from the Kern US Open. 

Chad Penson (90KG) Makes History — Twice

On Saturday, April 24, Chad Penson put the sport of powerlifting on notice. Penson’s day started with him becoming the first man to squat 400 kilograms (881 pounds) raw with wraps at a bodyweight of 90 kilograms (198 pounds). He moved on to the bench press, where he would max out with a lift of 232.5 kilograms, and he then finished the day with a deadlift of 365 kilograms. His 997.5 kilogram total set an all-time world record total in his weight class. He also reached rarified air as the first 90-kilogram competitor to total 11 times his bodyweight

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Hunter Henderson Claims Two All-Time World Records at 75KG

In only her fifth meet, Hunter Henderson put on an absolute powerlifting masterclass and snagged two records in the process. The first was the all-time squat record of 295 kilograms. The previous holder of that record was Kristy Hawkins, who served as the referee for Henderson’s meet. Henderson’s 147.5-kilogram bench press and 260-kilogram deadlift gave her a total of 702.5 kilograms. She tacked 12 kilograms onto the previous world record and became the first 75-kilogram woman lifter to break into the 700-kilos.


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Dan Bell Squats 505 Kilograms for All-Time World Record

Bell has had a remarkable 2021 so far. At the Hybrid Showdown III contest in February 2021, he became the first man to total over 2,600 pounds. In San Diego, he had hoped to pad that record a bit. While that didn’t happen, he didn’t leave the contest without taking at least one record for himself. Three men had shared the squat at 500 kilograms before this contest, but it is now his alone thanks to his final attempt of 505 kilograms. It is the heaviest squat in the Raw With Wraps category completed in a full meet.

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Jennessa Labbate Takes 67KG Deadlift World Record 

Labbate had a great event in the 67-kilogram division. Her best squat was 227.5 kilograms (501 pounds), and her bench press was also very impressive. She pressed 132.5 kilograms (292.1 pounds) with little trouble. The ultimate highlight of her day would come on the final deadlift. She approached the barbell, loaded with 255.5 kilograms (563.2 pounds), and stood up with it. The previous record-holder was Galina Abramova, who pulled 255 kilograms in 2019. 

Blake Lehew Logs Heaviest Total Ever at 82.5KG

Penson wasn’t the only man to total 11 times his bodyweight. Blake Lehew put on an epic performance for a total of 910 kilograms at a bodyweight of 82.5 kilograms. He managed to put that total together thanks to a 340 kilogram squat, a bench press of 227.5 kilograms, and a pull of 342.5 kilograms. 

Sara Schiff Pulls 287 Kilograms For New ATWR

One surprise that came out of nowhere was Sara Schiff’s world record raw deadlift of 287 kilograms. This is now the top mark in the women’s 90-kilogram-plus division, breaking the previous record of 285.8 kilograms by Jessica Springer.

Featured image: Photo by Justin Yoncé /@jyonce43 on Instagram