I have been solving twisty puzzles since 2012, and have been to 15 WCA competitions since. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some really cool people and even hold some state records in my “career”. Here is my WCA profile.
How I Started
My story isn’t really anything special. I didn’t have an internet connection that was stable enough for YouTube until 2012, so most of the time I played very light games like Club Penguin or Poptropica (I was 13 at the time). So once we got the ability to watch something without it taking years to load, I went and looked up everything I could. Rubik’s cubes was one of the first things for some reason.
I used Dan Brown’s original tutorial and had my first cube solved in about 24 hours. After about a week I had the method memorized and then kept getting faster and faster until I decided to learn CFOP (it was called the Fridrich method at the time). I then started going to competitions when I could solve a 3x3 in about 30 seconds.
My mother was very supportive and would take me to most of the competitions I wanted to go to, so I was able to travel a little bit and go to Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and western North Carolina.
The first competition I went to was in Raleigh, North Carolina only about 3 or 4 months after I started solving cubes. I didn’t do very well, and I think I even heard some people making fun of how I was using a Rubik’s brand for one handed solving, but I had a lot of fun regardless.
The 2nd competition I went to was a River hill competition in Maryland. This is where I first got to meet one of the people I really looked up to in cubing, Rowe Hessler. Rowe was very prominent during the 2010s, and recently has started getting really good at multi blind. He was such a cool dude, and signed this book I had gotten the year I started. I was sub-20 for 3x3 at this competition, which was a very big milestone for cubers in that time, I’m not sure if it’s as big a milestone anymore.
The next competition that stand out was my 4th competition in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is where I got my first podiums ever. I placed 3rd for both 4x4 and 5x5, which were the events I practiced the most for leading up to the competition. I was expecting to do pretty well in 4x4, but 5x5 was a complete shock considering that was the first time I had competed in 5x5. After this, I decided 5x5 was going to be my main event, and went on to break state records in it several times. I’m not sure when I first broke state record, however.
My 5th competition was United States Nationals 2015 in Hilton Head, South Carolina. This was a lot of fun and was a mini vacation for my family and I. The area was so beautiful, and competing in such a large place was so much fun. I got to meet even more of my idols and get them to sign my book. People like Chris Olson, Mitch Lane, Kevin Hays, Pavan Ravindra, Drew Brads, Lucas Etter, Noah Arthurs, just so many cool people. I may have broken some state records here, but I can’t remember. I did pretty well at skewb, which was unexpected.
After nationals, most of the competitions I’ve been to have been ones hosted in North Carolina, and a few scattered in Virginia. This is where I really started to compete well and get rid of the nerves. I also started staffing competitions where I would judge solves, run cubes, scramble and help set up the venue. I don’t remember a lot of these because it’s been so long, and nothing really stands out. Around this time is when I started breaking my own state records consistently, I have a PB streak of 15 as of now which is 100% of my competitions.
Gobbler Cube Day 2017
This story deserves it’s own section because it’s really special to me. Gobbler Cube Day 2017 was really really memorable for me because of the final round, and despite all the nerves I did really well. I got to go up against Corey Sakowski who was overall really decent at most events and broke the NAR for multiblind at one of my first competitions, Tommy Szeliga who held the world record for Square-1, and Keaton Ellis who held the 3x3 WR single (there a sad story with that single, but I’m not going to explain it here).
I made it to finals for 3x3. That wasn’t uncommon at this point for me, I was solving consistently 10-11 seconds which got you pretty far still. What was uncommon was it was head to head solves. I had only seen this done at nationals before. To make it worse on my nerves I was in second place so I was going head to head against Keaton Ellis for the very last part of the final round.
Funny side note: Keaton and Corey hosted a seminar at nationals 2015 for how to not get nervous in competitions, but I didn’t attend it.
Before the round started, they made all the finalists sit in a different room. We were all able to talk and warm up, and just the 2 people who would be competing next would leave the room. I sat and started talking with Tommy Szeliga, I think mostly about his world record and where he was from, just basic conversation. Eventually, everyone goes and competes, so it’s just me and Keaton left and he was very pleasant. The conversations I had back there really calmed me down, everyone is always so nice at competitions.
Before we went back to the waiting area they asked what cube we were using, how old we were, and how long we’d been cubing, so when you walked out they would introduce you. My solves in the final round were recorded, so you can watch that if you want, so I’m not gonna talk too much about the solves. After the 3rd solve I calmed down a ton more because Keaton got a 6.79, so I knew there was no chance of me winning anymore (haha). I then got a 9 second and an 8 second solve. The 8 second solve is still my second fastest time in comp, and I used a ZBLL alg. This was such a memorable competition and I loved every minute of the finals. I am so glad to have gone and am so glad I got footage of it.
A small anecdote that I will brag about until I die: One small tradition that happens at competitions (at least in North Carolina and surrounding states) is a bunch of friends will sometimes go to dinner after competitions to celebrate. I’ve been invited a few times, but I’ve never been able to go because I lived so far away and we are already going to get home late. Tommy ended up inviting me out to dinner with them while we were sitting in the waiting room for finals. ME at a table sharing a meal with WORLD RECORD HOLDERS, I was so flattered to be asked. It’s not really like a club of “oh you have to be winner’s circle to be invited”, but just the fact that I was cool enough to be invited to dinner was a highlight. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go, but man that’s something I still talk about years later.
1st Place Podiums
The final competition I’ll mention is the first(and only) competition I placed first in, Carolina Cubers United 2018. One of my good cubing friends, Kyler Smith, was the organizer and Cady Shields was the delegate. Cady was the organizer of Charlotte open 2014 where I got my first podiums for 4x4 and 5x5 (which was Cady’s first competition she ever attended, and she was the organizer), so it’s a funny coincidence that she was the delegate for the first competition I won 4x4 and 5x5 in. It really shows our growth I think. I don’t remember much of this competition besides it being kind of warm in the venue, and we had parked our car in the spot that the HVAC guy needed to get to in order to fix the air conditioning. Kyler Smith hosted a few competitions before he joined the military, and his were always ran really well and very enjoyable because my friends would be there.
North Carolina State Records
Even at my personal fastest I wasn’t that fast, but I was able to nab a good chunk of the state records. I think these are all the ones I had, I’m 90% sure I held the 3x3 average for about a week.
- 3x3 average
- 4x4 single/average
- 5x5 single/average
- Skewb average
My Return to Competitions?
With Covid-19 really putting a stress on close contact and large gatherings, competitive cubing took a big hit. I haven’t been to a competition since 2019. There have been a few online competitions which I’m happy to see, and more people are probably interacting on facebook and discord groups. I don’t trust my internet well enough to be able compete in them. I am sad to say that my heyday has come and gone. I still solve cubes semi-frequently, and am still the fastest I’ve ever been. But my free time is limited now, and there are all these kids who come and get an official 7 second average in competitions by the time they’re 10. I will still try to go to local competitions (Raleigh/Charlotte) when I can, but I won’t be expecting much in the way of results.
With Covid-19 having halted competitions for about 2 years, I didn’t compete during that time. Now that I’m an old man that doesn’t practice anymore, and has a bad back, I really don’t see myself going to competitions anytime soon. I’d love to go to one if it was close, like one in Raleigh, but right now with my mobility and schedule I don’t have the desire for it.