The U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) held its Winter Athletic Events at the Mid-American Restaurant Expo in Columbus, Ohio recently. Competition categories included Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pie Maker, and Fastest Box Folder. These events drew 15 competitors from throughout Ohio and beyond.

First-time competitor Landon Butler of 600 Downtown, located in Bellefontaine, Ohio, earned first place in the Fastest Pie Maker category, which requires competitors to slap out five 10 oz. pizza doughs and place them on a 10” screen as quickly as possible. Finishing a close second was Josh Jimmerson from Caliente Pizza and Brewhouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with longtime USPT member Ryan LaRose of Columbus-based Leone's Pizza taking third place.

Next up was the Largest Dough Stretch, in which the pizza athlete must stretch out an 18 oz. dough ball as widely as possible in five minutes. Once again, newcomer Butler claimed the first-place medal. Second place went to LaRose, while new competitor Matt Hickey of Caliente Pizza and Brewhouse scooped up third place.

The final event was the Fastest Box Folder, requiring each competitor to fold five 14" boxes as quickly as they can. First place went to Ashley Parthemore of Michael Angelo's Pizza in Rushylvania, Ohio. Ashley has competed in several USPT events in the past. Second and third places were taken by first-time competitors Tiffany Westfall of 600 Downtown and Scott Simpson of Caliente Pizza and Brewhouse, respectively.

This year's USPT Winter Athletic Events drew one of its largest contingents of competitors in recent history.

PMQ Pizza Magazine, the business trade publication for the pizza restaurant industry, created the U.S. Pizza Team in 2000. The team is sponsored by Grain Craft, California Milk Advisory Board, Gordon Food Service, Sofo Foods, LaNova, Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Bag Solutions, Fontanini Meats, Lillsun, Marsal and Sons, Univex, Presto Foods, Pivetti, and Lloyd Pans.