Southern California has long been a hotbed for CrossFit Games competitors; names like Josh Everett, Greg Amundson, and Kristan Clever built the reputation of the SoCal contingent.
Athletes like Katie Hogan, Josh Bridges and Rebecca Voigt have continued the legacy long after the CrossFit Games left the cozy confines of Aromas, Calif. With the Open just a few weeks out, sunny Southern California is ripe with athletes eager for their stab at the title Fittest on Earth. To get a good sense of what the competition is up against, we’ll first look back at how the Open unfolded in 2011.
To look at the top of the Open charts in SoCal would be a glimpse at various positions on the podium three months later in Carson, Calif., as Bridges, Clever, and Voigt absolutely cleaned house. What was happening just below them, though, was another story.
Maddy Curley — who would later join Brick CrossFit at Regionals and the Games — had flashes of brilliance with 5th, 4th and 3rd place finishes on Events 1, 3 and 6, respectively against top-notch Games competitors. Her gymnastics background and strength training would later pay dividends as their team advanced out of Regionals, on to the Games. Jerrett Perelmutter, also from Brick, would have similar luck throughout the Open, finishing on Bridges heels throughout, sans the heavy clean and jerk workout of Week 3, where he would take 22nd place for the region.
A number of other familiar names would fill the digital ranks of the Open following the likes of Clever and Bridges. Jeremy Kinnick, a seasoned veteran of the CrossFit Games would float around 10th throughout the Open, with an eventual finish of 7th. So too would Jonathan Pera, who redeemed himself after a disappointing performance at the 2010 Sectionals in Los Angeles, where a workout with double-unders would pull him out of contention for further advancement.
As the Regional kicked off at Cal State, Long Beach, Bridges would play the heavy favorite on the men’s side, while Regional Open winner Clever would step away from the individual competition to help her affiliate team of Valley CrossFit in securing a spot at the games. Coincidentally, it was her Valley companions who would also dominate the individual competition.
From the minute the weekend started, Bridges was relentless in his pursuit of a win in each workout. Winning three of the six events, the Thruster Ladder was his only fault, where he would stop at the 225-pound bar finishing 15th overall in that particular test. Kinnick and Pera would be similarly consistent throughout the grueling weekend, swapping finishing positions until the last workout closed. Max Fernandez would nip at the heels of both athletes, only to finish eight points behind Kinnick, who would close the weekend in 3rd.
On the women’s side, it was all Valley all weekend as Voigt, Hogan, and Valenzuela would dominate nearly every workout. The latter two, Hogan and Valenzuela, would provide one of the most stunning and heartbreaking moments of the weekend during the Thruster Ladder, as they were both able to work their way through all of the assigned bars, forcing a tie. As new, heavier bars were assembled, Valenzuela would foot fault on the first lift, giving the win to Hogan once she thrust 190 pounds overhead. An exciting win for Hogan, a surprising mistake from Valenzuela.
With just a five weeks separating Southern California from the Open a few names are again beginning to creep out of the woodwork as contenders. Andrea Ager, to name one, has completely dominated local competitions, beating Games winner Clever twice in the popular NLI Series. Kenny Leverich has been on a tear lately as well, finishing 2nd in the three-event NLI this winter behind Games competitor Pera. Similarly, Fernandez is also competing and looking strong, hoping to improve on his finish from 2011.
Keep your eyes fixed on SoCal, as it’s sure to provide top-level Games competitors, excitement at Regionals, and an Open competition like we’ve yet to see in our area.