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

Name BW CAT Hometown Coach Club
Alyssa Ritchey 49kg Perrysburg, OH Max Aita Team Juggernaut
Morghan King 49kg Atlanta, GA Spencer Arnold Power & Grace Performance
Jourdan Delacruz 55kg Atlanta, GA Spencer Arnold Power & Grace Performance
Caitlin Hogan 55kg Long Beach, CA Russell McCarthy Academy of Weightlifting
Jessica Lucero 59kg Orange, CA Juan Martinez Baro Academy of Weightlifting
Taylor Turner* 59kg St. Johns, FL Vance Newgard Vero Beach Weightlifting
Mattie Sasser 64kg Chicago, IL Dave Ester Unattached
Hunter Elam* 64kg Lewisville, NC Travis Mash Mash Mafia Weightlifting
Mattie Rogers 71kg Orlando, FL Danny Camargo Team OC
Kate Nye 71kg Oakland Township, MI Josh Galloway Team Hercules
Jenny Arthur 76kg Colorado Springs, CO Kevin Doherty Unattached
Sarah Robles +87kg League City, TX Tim Swords Team Houston

Team USA Men

Name BW CAT Hometown Coach Club
Jordan Wissinger 67kg Denver, PA Dane Miller Garage Strength
Alex Lee 67kg Chandler, AZ Shahin Nasirnia Alee Athletics
CJ Cummings 73kg Beaufort, SC Rayford Jones Team Divergent
Harrison Maurus 81kg Auburn, WA Kevin Simons Alpha Barbell
Christian Rodriguez Ocasio 81kg San Ramon, CA David Spitz California Strength
Jordan Cantrell 89kg Clovis, CA Travis Mash Mash Mafia Weightlifting
John Downey* 89kg Irvine, CA Russell McCarthy Barbells for Boobs Weightlifting
Jason Bonnick 96kg Laxahatchee, FL Brian Secrest Vero Beach Weightlifting
D’Angelo Osorio 102kg Vallejo, CA Rob Earwicker Lift 6 for 6 Weightlifting
Wes Kitts 109kg San Ramon, CA David Spitz California Strength
Caine Wilkes +109kg Matthews, NC Chris Wilkes Little League Weightlifting
Keiser Witte* +109kg Phoenix, AZ Shahin Nasirnia Alee 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.