Suffolk’s arm-wrestling champ

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Six women flexed their muscles and gave it their all, but only one dominated the inaugural Suffolk Ladies Arm Wrestling competition.

Tough-as-nails competitor Jillian Rensch won the competition, held by the Suffolk Public Library on Friday night at the Nansemond Brewing Station, and took home the “S.L.A.W. Master” championship belt. The belt is made with stretchy, glittery material and has a buckle covered in coleslaw imagery.

Each of the six competitors on Friday signed up using fun nicknames. Rensch took first place under the nickname “Jill n Destroy.” Megan Mansfield placed second as “Megiggle,” and Leona Woolsey placed third as “Atomic Thunder.”

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There was also Suffolk Public Schools’ Fine Arts Facilitator Dr. Joleen Neighbours, who won the thumb-wrestling competition that was held shortly after arm-wrestling. She received a S.L.A.W. Master bracelet as her thumb-wrestling prize.

Neighbours competed in both the arm-wrestling and thumb wrestling competitions under the nickname “Dolly’s Worst Enemy.” She said the whole event was fun and a community-driven good time.

“It’s fun and it supports the community, especially the library,” she said.

Rensch said she felt like she was back in the third grade, when she was the strongest girl in her classroom and the winner of many arm-wrestling matches. Both Mansfield and Woolsey agreed she that she was the toughest in the competition.

“Girls are strong, too. It’s not just boys,” Rensch said.

More importantly, all of them had fun, and there were plenty of cheers during the competition from friends and fellow patrons inside the brewery.

“I hope more people show up the next time they have this,” Woolsey said. “I would like to do it again next year.”

The competition was a partnership between the Suffolk Public Library and Nansemond Brewing Station on East Washington Street, and the brainchild of Suffolk Public Library Adult Program Services Coordinator Ashley Reed.

The championship belt was also Reed’s design and made with an old Halloween costume belt of hers and a few alterations, she said.

“The championship belt is pretty sassy, but (also) pretty homemade,” she said.

The Friday night atmosphere was fun and competitive, with some tough matches that got the crowd to cheer louder and louder.

“I love seeing how competitive the wrestlers are, (and) they seem to be having a good time,” Reed said.

The event was also a great opportunity for community engagement, Reed said. People enjoyed the novelty of a ladies’ arm-wrestling competition and started talking among each other, including some people who have attended other library programs.

“One of the cool parts about the arm-wrestling tonight is that we are seeing people who come into the library for classes and programs out in the community, and mixing and mingling with different folks than they usually do,” Reed said, “so that’s pretty cool to see the crossover.”