After the Action Report: WAL 2016 North Regionals Recap

May 26th 2016

New blood rose to the top in some battles while reigning champs held it down in others.

It truly was a day of mixed fortunes at the World Armwrestling League’s 2016 Northern Regional Championships May 21 in Woodstock, IL.

Go here for full results and to see who is heading to Las Vegas for the finals June 24-26. Miss the matches? Head to the WAL Facebook page for video footage from throughout the event at Woodstock Harley Davidson. But aside from the awesome sauce that was Northern Regionals, the event also empathized the “World” in World Arwmrestling League: half the pro division titles up for grabs went to Canadians. Devon Larratt took both 225 arms. Ryan Espey pulled his way to a superheavyweight title on the left side, while Randy Bayers sat at the top of the 165 right arm category by day’s end.
Continuing the Canuck onslaught in the women’s division, Barb Schlegl took first place in the left arm 128s, while the 149+ class was dominated by Heidi Cordner and Josee Morneau. The entire day offered gripping matches in the men’s and women’s division. But it was the men’s 165 class that saw big changes in the pecking order.

Whether those changes will come to full fruition at Finals remains to be seen.

Either way, it was not a great day for Janis “The Jedi” Amolins and “The Assassin” Paul Talbott, the two pullers currently holding the weight class’ right and left arm Hammers of Champions. Amolins, right arm champ for two years in a row, did not make the top 8 and win cash at the Northern Regionals, and just barely managed to qualify on the right for Vegas. He suffered a hand injury during an epic battle with Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, prompting a trip to the emergency room and questions about how ready he will be next month. Talbott also had a rough day, losing out in the left finals against Tony “Iron Man” Kitowski, a name to watch out of Wisconsin who swore earlier this year to improve on his 2015 performance. With Amolins sidelined on the right, Bayers and his steely gaze took first-place honors. Right behind him was Sam Harris out of Pennsylvania, a puller who is quickly making his name in the WAL ranks. Harris had some of the day’s hottest matches against Bayers and Talbott. In the 195 class, “RVJ” Rob Vigeant stormed back from his 2015 Finals loss to beat out the current right arm champion Storm Chellino in a gritty battle. “Toddzilla” Todd Hutchings took the top spot on the left 195 war with his relentless side hit, edging out “The Chemist” Mike Selearis.

After a strong yet futile showing in the 225s last year, Matt Mask swore he’d be back stronger than ever in 2016. And while he had an at-times berserk level of dominance on the table for much of the day, he was ultimately bested by Larratt on the left and right arms. “Next year!” Larratt screamed as Mask tried to get a right arm pin. “Easy Money” Dave Chaffee continued his undefeated superheavyweight right arm WAL streak, taking top honors against Jerry Cadorette. “E-Train” Ryan Espey had a huge coming out party in the superheavyweight class, signaling to everyone that he has arrived. Espey took the top left arm spot in that weight class against Normunds “Truck Norris” Tomsons, who showed up at the North Regionals pulling for the first time as a 226-plus pounder. Over in women’s action, Nadiya Wilczynski took first in the 128 right arm tourney, with Schlegl taking top honors on the left. Tatiane Faria bulldozed her way to a win on both arms in the 148 class. Cordner beat out Morneau in the right arm 149+ class, while Morneau beat Cordner on the left. While that Regional champion plaque is nice, as is the payout, everyone is icing their bicep and readying themselves for the Vegas Finals. There, the North’s top finishers will meet opponents from Down South and Europe, in what will be the biggest pro arm-wrestling event in history.