South Jersey Strongman Challenge, a humbling experience.
By Shukin Mark Moderski on 4/29/2014 Back to Articles

South Jersey Strongman Challenge, a humbling experience.


Ever since Matt Filler and I started training strongman events together in Art Boss's backyard, a main topic that kept recurring each week between sets was bringing Grant Higa to the East Coast and promoting a strongman event in South Jersey. At that time I never thought they would coincide, but on April 26th 2014 everything came together, and when I say everything came together I mean the strongman and strongwoman community. 

I think most people can relate that life sometimes gets in the way. Training partners coming go, work schedules change, people have kids, gas prices rise, but dreams never die in many of us. Matt texted me a few months ago and asked me if I had a chance to talk, we arrange a time to speak and he said he wanted to do a South Jersey strongman competition a CrossFit Vineland. At this point he was just spit balling the idea around and wanted my input. We both agreed on three priorities (aside from the venue which was set), it had to be NAS sanctioned, expertly judged, and quality equipment. Being close friends with Grant Higa and Zack McCarley I said suggested to Matt that we invite both of them to the event, we could fly them in and they could stay at my house and we can have a quality show. Unfortunately with Zack's collegiate schedule he was unable to attend, fortunately Grant Higa agreed even though he is several weeks out from the Sequim show. Matt and I brainstormed about quality equipment and one name came to mind immediately Biggdoggstrongg. I hit Johnny up on Facebook and he said he would gladly help us in any way we needed. For those of you don't you don't know Johnny runs top notch shows in North Jersey, and makes professional level strongman equipment. CrossFit Vineland owners were very excited to host the competition at their gym, in fact one of the owners entered the competition even though he is two weeks out of Olympic lifting State competition. Matt worked very closely with New Jersey state chair Mike beyers to do all the correct paperwork and scheduling to make this an NAS sanctioned event. 



We reached out to Grant Higa and picked his brain from his long history of strongman promotion and competing. Grant Higa is the NAS Washington State chair, promoter of the NAS Platinum level Washington’s Strongest Apple six years running and a competitive pro strongman. Grant compiled a checklist for us, things that we needed to have at the show, he drew an outline of what makes a great event, he helped strategize. Matt chose the various events and medleys, and we started gathering the equipment we could get. Art Boss loaned us the stones, Johnny drove two hours with a yoke, circus dumbbells and two assistants to help. Mike brought a yolk for the women and lightweight competitors. Former pro strongman now Highland game competitor Patrick Raquet came down to assist in judging as well. The stage was set the rules meeting went off on time, competitors came from the tri-state area and some as far as Virginia. Everyone laid it on the line, gave everything they had and showed how much heart they really possess. Events went smoothly and timely. Grant's expertise in this area was evident. Johnny, Pat and Grant added a level of professionalism to the event our first time out, I am forever grateful to them. Matt’s cousin Gary was an excellent scorekeeper and Chris Gilbert made time out of his busy schedule just to spot and load weights. From my vantage point every competitor was a winner, no one was half ass no one gave up. 

I am honored that Matt asked me to assist in this event. I am humbled that people like Johnny, Patrick, Grant, Mike and everyone else came out and showed their support. The strength community is a very special group of individuals who continue to inspire me to work harder and become a better all-around human being. 

Post script, when I use the term ‘We’ I mean it in the widest sense, inclusive of the entire strength community. Thank you for coming out, helping, judging, competing and spectating.  If you have videos and photos of the event please mail the links to me at and we will share them. Also, please let us know how we can improve for next year.

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