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Qualifying for the American Open Series

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By Coach Jason Struck

2 years ago at the Full Circle Open

Editorial (Coach Jason): You may not know Erin Potter. She’s a little quiet sometimes. She’s done barbell classes exclusively for a few years now. But, she’s an OG. At this point, I can’t really remember if she joined before James or not. But she’s been with Full Circle since 2008 probably, or maybe at the latest 2009. A lot has changed since she started (with Full Circle too), like a second child, some time off from the gym, and a switch towards become a weightlifer. /Editorial

Proof: Erin 6 years ago at our Mechanicsville location. Probably warming up for our overhead squat clinic.

At the RVA Open a few weeks ago, Erin lifted enough in her weight class/age group to qualify for the American Open Series. In effect, this is an invitational event that only athletes whom have previously competed and completed a sufficiently high total will be allowed to register for or compete in.

The American Open Series is a series of three events each year that lead up to the American Open Finals (formerly known as the “American Open.”) This Series is awesome in that folks of all ages and weight categories get an opportunity to perform at the national competition level, whether or not they meet totals in traditional competitions to compete at the national level (USAW Nationals).

The Series has the standard weight categories for adults, juniors, youth, and masters. And competitions work on a point basis, with Series Champions named at the American Open Finals. On top of that, these meets are eligible for American records.

So how do the points work? Points are awarded for 1st through 25th place at each Series, with the American Open Finals worth two times the points. In the case of a tie, the tie breaker will be snatch plus clean and jerk points, followed by the highest average placement. If there is STILL a tie, the higher average Sinclair point total will win, followed by the number of actual series events attended.

To qualify for National Championships or the American Open Final, you must place in the top three overall in each weight category for adults and juniors, and the top three youth by Sinclair will qualify, as will the top three masters by Sinclair-Malone-Meltzer. (Ed: A formula that divides total by bodyweight, with some adjustments for weight class, to make an athlete to athlete comparison across weight classes and genders)


In Erin’s last competition, the RVA Open, she hit a 46kg snatch and a 57kg clean and jerk for a 103kg total in the 63kg weight class, exceeding the qualifying requirements for the Open series by 15kg!

I took a few minutes to ask Erin some questions about her training, the competition that qualified her and what’s next. Here’s what she had to say:

“I probably won’t compete at the American Open Miami. The timing just isn’t right for me, and I want to give my new training program a chance to kick in. ”

“One of the announcers asked Mike Ricketts (Erin’s coach/handler that day) if I knew that I had just qualified. He said ‘probably not’, so the announcer announced it as I was walking off the platform. It was an awesome and surprising feeling. Made missing the next two lifts irrelevant…haha not really. But did feel awesome to hear it announced like that. ”

“I want to take six months off from competing, and just see my strength numbers go up. A 115kg total is my next benchmark. I feel confident now at meets, so I really want to focus on lifting more weight and just getting stronger.”

She’s come a long way since 2010, when what looks like 160lbs may have been a max deadlift.

“When I tell people I lift in competitions I always give the caveat that I’m not really competitive, or that I do OK for an old lady or some other joke. But in truth, I want to be good at this sport. I like it so much. I just need to change what I’m doing a little to get stronger.

I think I feel re-motivated and more confident and refocused. It was a good reminder to mix things up, in that since the meet and working with Jason and Ricketts on a new training program, I’m having a lot of fun again. I didn’t realize I was feeling a little stale in my routine and frustrated by a stagnant back squat! 200, I’m coming for you!”
Editorial (Coach Jason): It’s important to note that Barbell is a great general strength and weightlifting program for beginners, and really dedicating yourself to it for 2-3 cycles will help you add 50-100lbs to your back squat, guaranteed. Which means 30-60kg to your total too. But after a year or two, you probably won’t be a ‘beginner’ anymore, and it’s time to train a little more specifically and a little harder. /editorial
We hope you’re inspired by Erin’s story. I can not reiterate enough how much she embodies what Full Circle and Crossfit is about: Mechanics, Consistency then Intensity. She personifies the values we want all our athletes to pursue: Integrity, Efficacy and Ambition.
If you want to learn more about our Barbell Strength and Power program, or are simply ready to start, don’t hesitate to contact Jason directly for more information (if you’re a member) or fill out this form if you aren’t a Full Circle member yet: Click Me!