Caber Hero – Kerry Overfelt – US Highland Games Champion


Kerry Overfelt has been a regular on the US Highland Games scene over many years, and has a wealth of knowledge.

In this interview we touch base with Kerry and discuss his greatest achievements and lessons he has learnt along the way.

Phil Burgess: How did you first get involved in competing in the Highland Games?

Kerry Overfelt: I started out as a teenage bodybuilder..Brett Underwood was the gym owner at the place I trained at. One day Brett said” hey let’s do the Glasgow highland games this year” .

We had a great group of strength athletes at the gym at the time.. I was actually the weakest guy in the group..Brett knew the people that were in charge of the games and he went and got all the equipment for us to practice with.

I was awful!! But we had a blast competing that Saturday.  I was hooked after that. After I finished playing college football I had to have something to compete in..Highland games was it!!

Phil Burgess: You compete in the Highland Games in the US and around the world?  What is your current rankings? And what major titles do you hold? And which one are you the most proudest of, and why?

Kerry Overfelt:  You would ask my current

I think I’m 12th in the U.S. at the moment.. I was in the top 5 from 06 till 2010..

I have been injured somewhat this year and have really not got my mojo back..our rankings run from aug till aug.

When I was younger I was so locked into what I was ranked!! Now It’s just not a big deal to me. In 2009 I was the U.S. National Champion and the North American Champion..I have won the North American Championship 3x.

I’m the most proud of the National Title for two reasons:

  1. The U.S. has the best throwers in the world!!!
  2. Not because of my physical performance but because of my mental performance..I had to make big throws on my final attempts in several events to hold off the other guys!!!!

Phil Burgess: What is your favorite Highland Games Event? And your least favorite and why?

kerry overfelt weight for distance
56lb Weight for distance

Kerry Overfelt: My favorite event is the 56 weight for distance.

I just feel so confident with it…least favorite is the stone…I have zero track and field experience so the stone is like shot put …and I suck at it. 🙂

Phil Burgess: Who has provided the greatest help to your Highland Games career?

Kerry Overfelt: There are so many people I could thank here..

Brett Underwood got me started and said I would be the one out of the group that did the best at the games ,,even though I was the worst in the beginning.

Doug Grissom was one of the first guys who got me travelling all over the place and we’re still great friends today.

Ryan Vierra was a huge help to me …his technical expertise was key to a lot of my success.

Craig Smith and I spent countless hours on the phone and travelling together , talking about training and technique …He has truly been one the best friends I have ever had!!!

Mark Valenti and I text daily about nonsense and highland games. 🙂

Cool thing about this sport is everyone tries to help when they’s a brotherhood !!!!

Phil Burgess: Who do you think is the greatest highland games champion who ever lived and why?

Kerry Overfelt: In my opinion..Ryan Vierra is the greatest of all time.

Multiple national titles and multiple world titles….He dominated this sport for so long!!!! It’s incredible what he has done in the sport of Highland Games..

What Happened Next??

Phil Burgess: Are the Highland Games events growing in popularity in the US, or are they still a small niche sport?

Kerry Overfelt:  The games are growing but it’s still a small niche.

Ask someone what highland games are and you get” oh the guys who pull the trucks and stones”

Phil Burgess: Your girlfriend Shawna Mendelson, has mastered Powerlifting and Bodybuilding, are you trying to convert her to be a Highland games competitor?  And do they have highland games events for Women?

Kerry Overfelt: Shawna will be competing next year in highland games! Women’s games are growing in popularity, they’re all over the west coast and growing in the south.

My girl Shawna will do well because she is an amazing athlete and so determined and focused in whatever she does.  She inspires me by her dedication and work ethic.

Phil Burgess: Over the next 2 years what are your competition goals?

Kerry Overfelt:  I’m not really sure what the next two years hold for me.

I want to win the Masters World Championship…and also place in top 5 at Nationals.

I also want to break the Masters World Records in weight for distance, sheaf,hammer,and weight over bar.

Phil Burgess: Final Question, what 3 tips would you give to a person starting out in the sport of Highland Games?

Kerry Overfelt: Ok here goes:

  1. Be humble!!! That way you learn more.  I hate a little know-it-all track and field punk that thinks they know highland games. It’s a totally different beast when you’re trying to throw a 22 foot 120 pound caber!!! Or a 56 pound weight for distance.
  2. Don’t be an asshole!!! As my Granny always said ” you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. In the highland games world if people like you, they will bend over backwards to help you.  I have saved thousands of dollars in hotel rooms, rental cars and meals because people wanted to help me out…
  3. For amateur throwers!!! I dont mean this badly but , Don’t take advice from guys that are not that good. In today’s world everyone is accessible , if you want to be good , go find a top pro and learn from him .. In 2003 I went to Ryan Vierras house for a week, just to train.  I was an up and coming pro that had finished 2 nd to Ryan in several competitions..He wanted to help me get better so it would force him to get better. Most any pro will try and help a new guy or girl.


Thanks Kerry great speaking with you, there is some great advice there, and I couldn’t agree with you more on Being Humble…