A Strong Man

As I muse back on my college career, I think about all the fun I had banging around weights and flipping tracker tires in the driveway of a rural home in mid-Missouri.
Justin Wheeler, who was then about as old as I am now, in his mid-20s, had just introduced me to Strongman. It’s a sport defined lifting seemingly immovable objects: metal logs, concrete spheres and thick axles that take farmer’s hands to grip, among other implements.
Every Sunday during my last semester at the University of Missouri, we’d throw kegs high into the air, and rip more than 200 pounds from the ground, propelling the weight overhead.
He lives in Kansas City, now. His 31st birthday is today.
And when I learned I would be traveling to the metro that meets at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers for business, I thought we could relive some of that fun.
I called his wife last week, and surprised him at the airport Saturday.
For the past two days, we remade some of that weight room rough housing.
Bending bars, pressing metal logs late into the night in front of his Liberty, Mo., home and dead-lifting grip breaking weight that has ripped calluses off my hands.
The most important lessons I ever learned in college, I learned from Justin Wheeler.
He taught me a lot about patience, kindness, honesty, friendship and most importantly how to really have a good time.
Happy Birthday, Justin.
And an unimaginably huge thank you for letting me hang out with your husband, Katie Jo.
You are two of my favorite people.


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