USA Weightlifting Athletes Share Their Mindset for 2019 Pan American Championships

Team USA athletes appear to be ready and excited for the 2019 Pan Am Championships!

Next week, Team USA will compete at the Pan American Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Currently, members of Team USA are fine tuning their last minute preparations for this Gold level qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The team gathered at the Texas Strength Weightlifting Center in Houston, Texas on Wednesday to partake in double sessions leading up to the Pan Am Championships, which will run from April 20th until April 28th. Athletes will leave for Guatemala at different times, according to the date of their competition. The last day of training in Houston will be on April 25th.

This week, Alyssa Ritchey, a member of the USA Weightlifting team spoke with BarBend about her individual preparation.

“This training cycle had by far the most volume and intensity of my last past two-and-a-half years doing the sport,” Ritchey said. The Perrysburg, Ohio native competes in the 49 kg weight class and not only has appeared in the IWF World Championships the past two years, but also is a four-time CrossFit Regional Athlete.

“It’s been amazing to see my body perform so well and get so strong during this training cycle. I’m excited to see what my body is capable [of] at this competition because my positions in my fits have improved immensely and my leg strength feels unreal right now…I am so strong.”

And while the Gold level qualifying event does hold the highest importance for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — as qualifiers are ranked gold, silver and bronze — Ritchey said she’s also just excited to have fun.

“I’m excited to lift, have fun, lift heavy, and enjoy every single moment out there on the stage because of all of my hard work and I deserve it.” 

BarBend also got the chance to catch up with Wes Kitts, a member of the USA men’s team.

“Training has been going great! I’ve been lifting as heavy as I ever have and attacking new personal records. I can’t wait to get back on the platform and see how much progress I’ve made,” Kitts, who held the now defunct American-105 kg Senior Snatch Record with 176kg, said. “I’m fired up to defend my title as well!”

Jordan Cantrell, another member of the USA men’s team is also feeling strong and ready for competition.

“I have been feeling pretty good. During the training for Pan American Championships I have some new personal records in the squat which has made my lifts feel stronger than ever,” Cantrell said. “I am looking forward to a tough competition and hopefully to win some medals.”

Mike Gattone, USA Weightlifting’s Senior Director of Sports Performance and Coaching Education, has been training the athletes ahead of next week along with Pyrros Dimas, the Technical Director of USA Weightlifting.

Team USA’s Senior Pan American Championships team consist 12 women and 12 men athletes — check out the full roster below!

Team USA Women

NameBW CATHometownCoachClub
Alyssa Ritchey49kgPerrysburg, OHMax AitaTeam Juggernaut
Morghan King49kgAtlanta, GASpencer ArnoldPower & Grace Performance
Jourdan Delacruz55kgAtlanta, GASpencer ArnoldPower & Grace Performance
Caitlin Hogan55kgLong Beach, CARussell McCarthyAcademy of Weightlifting
Jessica Lucero59kgOrange, CAJuan Martinez BaroAcademy of Weightlifting
Taylor Turner*59kgSt. Johns, FLVance NewgardVero Beach Weightlifting
Mattie Sasser64kgChicago, ILDave EsterUnattached
Hunter Elam*64kgLewisville, NCTravis MashMash Mafia Weightlifting
Mattie Rogers71kgOrlando, FLDanny CamargoTeam OC
Kate Nye71kgOakland Township, MIJosh GallowayTeam Hercules
Jenny Arthur76kgColorado Springs, COKevin DohertyUnattached
Sarah Robles+87kgLeague City, TXTim SwordsTeam Houston

Team USA Men

NameBW CATHometownCoachClub
Jordan Wissinger67kgDenver, PADane MillerGarage Strength
Alex Lee67kgChandler, AZShahin NasirniaAlee Athletics
CJ Cummings73kgBeaufort, SCRayford JonesTeam Divergent
Harrison Maurus81kgAuburn, WAKevin SimonsAlpha Barbell
Christian Rodriguez Ocasio81kgSan Ramon, CADavid SpitzCalifornia Strength
Jordan Cantrell89kgClovis, CATravis MashMash Mafia Weightlifting
John Downey*89kgIrvine, CARussell McCarthyBarbells for Boobs Weightlifting
Jason Bonnick96kgLaxahatchee, FLBrian SecrestVero Beach Weightlifting
D’Angelo Osorio102kgVallejo, CARob EarwickerLift 6 for 6 Weightlifting
Wes Kitts109kgSan Ramon, CADavid SpitzCalifornia Strength
Caine Wilkes+109kgMatthews, NCChris WilkesLittle League Weightlifting
Keiser Witte*+109kgPhoenix, AZShahin NasirniaAlee Athletics

Editor’s Note: BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. The two organizations maintain editorial independence unless otherwise noted on specific content projects.

Feature images courtesy of @alyssaritchey1 and @weskitts22 Instagram pages. 

Celia Balf

Celia Balf

Celia is a Staff News Writer at BarBend. At the BarBend office, you can find Celia writing news stories covering the largest strength sport competitions in the world, in-depth features with world record-holders, big lifts, and everything in-between. Celia also orchestrates and helps create content for the BarBend social media pages. She is a former Division 1 soccer player turned content producer and sports journalist.

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