Thursday, June 26th, 1997
Carl Bradley Wins Ironman '97
Mike Gentry's yearly torture-test to crown the strongest, manliest Hokie football player culminates every year in the Ironman competition. The Ironman is a grueling event that includes a series of strength tests that are timed, with the shortest time winning. But don't think that the players are merely pushing weights around - nothing so mundane goes on in Tech's Ironman competition. Instead, the players have to do things like push a car 40 yards, carry a heavy dummy through a slalom course of cones, flip a king-size dump truck tire end over end, carry a 30-pound medicine ball, and then do the "farmer's walk," which involves carrying a pair of dumbbells that weigh about 100 pounds apiece over a specified distance.
The Ironman has been around a while, but it first started gaining notoriety when a rising junior quarterback named Jim Druckenmiller won the event. Heads turned at the notion of a QB winning a strength event, and in addition to suddenly paying attention to the fact that their starting quarterback was made of stone, Hokie fans started to wonder what the Ironman competition was. Now, Channel 10 of Roanoke shows up and films the event every year, reporting the winner on the evening newscast, and Hokie fans pay close attention to the player who wins it.
After Druckenmiller won the event in 1995, defensive tackle and renowned strongman Waverly Jackson rested the crown from Druck's hands in 1996. Last year was also the first year that the staff started recording the winner's name on a plaque affixed to a black anvil (even though the anvil wasn't introduced until 1996, Druck's 1995 victory was commemorated on it along with Jackon's 1996 title).
With the last two champions gone from Blacksburg, the event was wide open again this year. In the Ironman competition, the players are divided up into three groups: the "little guys," such as the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and DB's, the "middle-size guys," like linebackers and fullbacks, and the "big guys," which includes the offensive and defensive linemen. During the preliminary heats, a winner from each division is produced, and the three division champions go head-to-head-to-head in the finals.
Since the contest is primarily one of strength, so the bigger contestants are handicapped to even out the event. For example, the big guys might have to carry 125-pound dumbbells during the farmer's walk, while the little guys "only" have to carry 100-pound dumbbells.
This year's winner? In a time of 2:52 (after which he collapsed to the ground in exhaustion), rising sophomore Carl Bradley brought home the title. He was up against defensive end (but prospective linebacker, because of his smallish size) Corey Moore and (surprise!) quarterback Nick Sorensen.
Bradley may have been the winner, but he didn't look very happy - he looked like he just wanted to go collapse somewhere and die. Victory in the Ironman competition is a good news/bad news scenario: the good news is, you won the Ironman. The bad news is, the price of victory is exhaustion.
In my opinion, Carl Bradley is one to watch this year. He was very impressive in the Spring Game, and this Ironman title is further evidence that he's showing the dedication and hard work that lead to Hokie success. He is still listed second on the depth chart behind Nat Williams, but I look for Carl Bradley to get some serious turf time this year.