AMERICUS -- Luke Bryan learned everything he knows about the Strongman from Ryan Bushey.
And Bushey knows his stuff, winning the first two Strongman competitions. But it was the pupil edging the mentor this time as Bryan won the six-event competition by a 54-50 score. Vincent Dodson was third with 40 points.
Bryan took control, winning three of the first four events of the competition before holding off a charging Bushey.
"I'm exhausted," said Bryan immediately afterward. "I'm just ready to lay down and take a break. It was a lot of fun."
Bryan continued: "This year was my second year, and I was able to prepare a little better. I knew what to expect and what was coming and how it'd feel on my body and the pain I'd have to go through to finish."
Southwest Georgia Fitness co-owner and Strongman coordinator Buck Kinney added a sixth event this year, and he made the competition tougher, according to Bushey.
"They were very difficult as opposed to last year," he said. "I'm happy for Luke -- he's my little brother. I've been training him and trying to guide him through this whole thing, and I'm glad he beat me. His endurance got a lot stronger; it was a lot stronger than I thought it would have been.
"It's always hard trying to come back from being in second place to catch somebody. Four points don't seem like a whole lot, but they make a big difference in the end."
Bushey won two events, including his favorite -- the truck pull. He pulled about a 40,000 pound tractor-trailer 40 feet in 29.1 seconds; he pulled a truck about 30,000 pounds 45 feet in 19 seconds last year. He also won the final event, a super medley, by about six seconds.
Bushey edged Bryan by one point last year to win, and Bryan credits Bushey for guiding him. He also knew Bushey -- who competed in his last Strongman event before his family makes a move to New Jersey at the end of the month -- wasn't going to let him win without a fight.
"I knew he was going to come hard, that if I got the lead, I'd have to keep it," said Bryan. "He's done this three years now, and he ain't going to slow down through the whole event. He's very consistent. One slip up, and he'll take it.
"It was a lot harder this year. There were more events, heavier weights, heavier obstacles, new events. Ryan's the one that got me started in it, and I hate that he's leaving."
Bushey was second in the overhand pull in which he was seven-hundredths of a second ahead of Bryan, and he was second in the one-arm press, one shy of Bryan's 17 in the one minute, 15 second time span.
"Four points in six events, that's basically one place," said Kinney. "There's a two-point spread in each place, and that's one place in each event only. That makes the difference."
Dodson trained about two weeks specifically for the competition, and he won the overhand pull and was tied with Bushey in second through three events.
"It was a lot harder than last year," said Dodson. "The one-arm press took everything I had. The truck pull kind of got me; I was burnt out. We all did a real good job, and there was real good sportsmanship from the guys."
Kinney said there was a bigger crowd compared with last year, and he's already planning for future events.
"Maybe we can get more guys in it and keep growing it to where it's a regional thing," he said.