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GARY R. BLOCKUS, The Morning Call
Anyone who believes Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions should have a talk with Jeff Snyder.

Snyder, a 32-year-old Allentown resident, won the title of Mr. Lehigh Valley over 27 other contestants at the Lehigh Valley Bodybuilding Championships in the Allen High School Auditorium Saturday night.

Snyder was an obvious favorite with the crowd, estimated at close to 1,300, repeating as the winner in the short class. He also took honors for most muscular, best arms, best back and best legs.

The 5-foot-6, 175-pounder was more than eager to share his training secrets, particularly on the dieting end.

"I was eating baked potatoes and noodles," he said in reference to a question about carbohydrate loading prior to the contest.

"With Smucker's Jelly on top. Smucker's brings the veins out," he said, causing the people surrounding him to break up in laughter.

"It gives you that fast burst of sugar, which you need," he said, joking aside. "In between the prejudging and the contest, I went home and had four baked potatoes and about a jar of jelly. It seemed to work because I came back tighter."

When asked why he preferred Smucker's as the new anabolic wonder, the "ripped" sub-contractor for Ice City quickly pointed out that "Smucker's has no salt in it - lot's of sugar, but no salt."

"This is the most successful year as far as contestants and showing go," offered Colette Cocco, who, along with husband, Mike, sponsored the annual AAU-sanctioned event through Olympic Fitness Center. "This has only been the second year for women and for couples," she offered, choosing not to relay the fact that she and her husband make a fine amateur couples team as well.

While Snyder won the men's overall title, a teen-ager from Quakertown won a very big double in just the second competition of her life.

Jane Weiss, an 18-year-old, captured the Ms. Lehigh Valley title after going through a special mandatory pose routine against well-muscled runnerup Debbie Steely in the evening competition.

As if that wasn't enough cause to celebrate, Weiss turned the evening into an enjoyable superset by coming back with partner and boyfriend Craig Bach to win the Couples title.

"I can't believe I'm crying," the former cheerleader said after winning the women's title. She quickly regained her composure as she and Bach provided the crowd with a striking routine to "Heaven" by Bryan Adams, easily the best couples performance of the evening.

The double win (triple if one counts her win in the women's tall class) was unexpected but very satisfying to Weiss, who entered her first competition just last week.

"I was nervous," she acknowledged of the special mandatory poses she was asked to do against Steely, the winner of the short class and overall most muscular, "She looked really good. I was surprised I won the women's, but I was really hoping we'd win the couples.

"I felt confident out there," the 5-7, 135-pound blonde said in relation to her first competition when she won best poser and second overall in the Uniontown (N.J.) Championships last week.

"I'm lifting about a year-and-half now," she said, pointing and smiling at Bach when asked how she got started in the world of muscular development. Bach, 20, who took third in the men's medium class, was named the men's best poser.

Jim Carwell won the teen-age title, taking the tall class to win out over short class winner Toney Atie. Both Carwell and Snyder train out of Olympic Fitness Center while Weiss and Bach train out of the Upper Perk Flex Fitness Center.

For Snyder though, winning the title of Mr. Lehigh Valley culminated 16 long years of training, overloading, dieting and cycling. It also signaled a return home.

"I started here at this high school," he said, noting that he graduated from Allen in 1971. Snyder finished second overall last year.

"I'm really not heavy into competition. I just missed (the overall title) by a little bit last year, so I figured I'd try it this year to see if I improved myself.

"I wasn't here to beat anybody. I wasn't here to destroy anybody's goals. My goals were just to see if I could do a little better this year, and that's what I did," he said in dramatic understatement.

The Lehigh Valley is the only competition he has ever taken part in, and overall winners are not allowed back. Snyder has no plans to continue competing at the moment, but it's always nice to leave any sport when you're at the top.



Clyde Emrich, born in 1931, in Chicago, Illinois, is a former Olympic weightlifter. He was also a long-time strength coach for the Chicago Bears, who in 2008 named their weight room after him. He was hired by the Bears in the 1960's to become one of the pioneers of the strength coaching field. 
As a youngster, Emrich played football and baseball and began lifting weights at age 15, weighing 110 pounds, standing 5 feet 6 inches tall. He used articles found in Strength & Health magazine for coaching. His early start in weightlifting lead him to win his high school wrestling championship and run the 100-yard dash in 10.2 seconds.
Emrich, who remained self-coached throughout his weightlifting career, placed eighth in the 181-pound weight class at the 1952 Olympic Games. In 1954, he captured 3rd place in the Senior World Championships and later won the silver medal at the World Championships, prior to being invited to  be a part of the American weightlifting team on its goodwill tour of the Far East.
Clyde set his first world record in 1957 and became the first middle heavyweight at 198 pounds to clean and jerk 400 pounds. Two weeks later, he set the record at 409 pounds.
Emrich was also in the US military. Stationed in Germany, he continued to compete internationally and defeated many the top weight lifters throughout Europe. 
In 1957, Clyde suffered a severe shoulder injury which required 18 months to heal. However, in 1959, he competed at the Pan American Games to capture a gold medal. He has been inducted into the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame and the USA Strength And Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame.
In 2019, the night before the Bears kicked off training camp, "The Legend" suffered a fall on the cement stairs outside the Weber Center, the Bear's team headquarters.
Emrich was knocked unconscious from the fall and only recalls waking up in an emergency room, where he received 14 stitches above his eye and five in his ear.
Clyde's serious fall may have been a 'blessing in disguise.' A battery of tests revealed that he had a bleeding  stomach ulcer and a cancerous tumor in his colon.
"The funny thing is, if it wasn't for the fall, I wouldn't have known about those other things," Emrich said. "Everything was fine. I didn't have any symptoms."
Clyde Bryan Emrich, the famed Chicago  Bears strength coach, turned 90 years old, on April 6, 2021.



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