HILO’S PRESTON PROVES TO BE FORCE
Under overcast skies and a steady drizzle, it wasn’t all that hot and steamy for a July Saturday in Hilo.
Unless, of course, you were deadlifting cars, tossing stones – big boulders, actually – and lifting heavy metal logs over your head like Bronson Tiwanak and Devin Preston were.
Understandably, Tiwanak wanted a little relief.
“I’m going to find an ice pond,” Tiwanak said.
If there is one thing Hilo is known for it’s rain. It’s also home to the only sanctioned strongman competition in the
state, and heavy lifting and moisture mingled for the first time at the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s fifth annual Summer Jam, where a perennial champion and a first-time winner strong-armed the competition at Edith Kanakaole Multipurpose Stadium.
Tiwanak, of Oahu, claimed the heavyweight division for the third time in four years after finishing runner-up last season. A lightweight in name only, Hilo’s Preston captured the crown in his fifth try at the event.
“The first year was just to learn and try, and I just fell in love with it,” said Preston, the son of BISAC CEO Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita and Waiakea football coach Moku Pita.
He was thrown for a few curves Saturday, such his first try at the yolk event – contestants had to walk with a spotting rack strapped to their backs carrying either 600- plus (lightweight) or 800-plus pounds (heavyweights) – but in some ways Preston has been training for the event since his football-playing days at Waiakea.
“A lot of power lifting and explosiveness training,” he said, “and you have to work on your conditioning. It’s kind of like football training (for me). “This thing kicks your ass.” The 2014 Waiakea graduate is looking into continuing his higher education and he said he’s also worked as a bounty hunter.
His hunt for strongman glory is over after he won the log press, car deadlift and stone throw to dethrone the ever-impressive Sean Gutekanst. The Kailua-Kona native won yoke and finished second.
“I wanted it bad,” Preston said. “(Sean) is always ahead of me by one. We made each other work. It was a backand-forth battle.”
Tiwanak was the event winner in log press, yolk and stone throw, while perennial contender Kamuela Wassman, also of Oahu, won the farmers walk (contestants carry weight on their sides) and car deadlift to finish second.
More often the not, the first four BISAC strongman competition’s took place under a blazing sun, and while the overcast skies were welcome the rain wasn’t.
“A lot cooler, Tiwanak said, “but the rain on the stones was most noticeable. No matter what they did they couldn’t dry it off.”
He and Preston each advanced to a national strongman competition in Las Vegas in November.
Tiwanak fared much better in the yoke than his first try during a mainland competition.
“You move it 60 meet while it’s wobbling everywhere,” he said. “You have to keep your body as tight as possible. You can just feel the pressure on your back.”
An arm wrestling competition was also sanctioned for the first time. Lionel Molina won the top men’s division and Penny Kaae took the women’s title. While Kaae was competing for the first time, Molina trains for events on Oahu.
“The best practice is arm wrestling,” Molina said. “Workouts help, but the most successful way to practice is to arm wrestle other people.”
Preston-Pita said Summer Jam drew between 3,000 and 4,000 people.
“Probably our event,” she said.
Next year, she said sumo wrestling and power lifting events were in the works in what could become a twoday Summer Jam.
When it was over, Devin Preston wasn’t looking that far ahead. He did, however, have a favorite pastime of many in mind.
“I’m going to get a big meal and a lot of drinks,” he said. biggest
Hilo's Devin Preston competes in the log press Saturday during the strongman competition at the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s fifth annual Summer Jam.