While some athletes entered the WIN Entertainment Centre a little more sedately, a little sorer and a few, a little sorrier, the crowd was in high spirits for Day 2 of the 2014 Australia Regional.
The start of the weekend saw the stands fill up much faster than the first day with the venue more than half full by the end of the first heat.
Once the competition started, however, the athletes showed little sign of fatigue. Any first-day nerves were gone and the teams embraced the faster pace movements of Events 4, 5 and 6.
The big question on Day 2 was whether dominant teams CrossFit Athletic, CrossFit Active and Tropic Thunder would continue to pull away from the rest of the field? Or whether the winner of the past two Australia Regionals, Schwartzs CrossFit Melbourne, would close the 16-point gap between itself and third place.
The threat of extra thrusters hung heavy over Team Events 4 and 5 with the rule that if the barbell touched the ground during a team’s set, their score would be reverted to zero.
However, no team in the Australia Region let that happen, with all athletes holding onto the bar with grit and determination.
No female crew finished within the time cap during the first heat, though CrossFit Boss came within five reps.
It was an event that relied heavily on teamwork and communication and the women from CrossFit Boss had that under control and never relinquished their lead. Their men were equally smooth on the transitions and athlete Gavin Groves said communication was key.
“We just wanted to make sure we were talking to each other about it,” he said. “We practiced it a few times because we knew it was a big loss if we dropped it.”
Overall, the majority of the men's teams made the 135-lb. barbell look light with CrossFit Moorabbin flying through the thrusters. But it was the rope climbs that separated top teams.
The men sprinted for the wall and slid Superman style to rush for the mat before leaping up the rope, some making the climb in just two reaches. But it was Mount CrossFit that took the men’s heat with smooth transitions and a steady work rate in a time of eight minutes flat.
Heat 2's female competitors were markedly stronger than the women of Heat 1 with CrossFit Loaded the first team to finish under the time cap.
The top three teams had barely a rep between them for the first two couplets before CrossFit Loaded took a slight lead and went on to win the heat with just two seconds to spare.
“We shaved a minute off the last time we did it so we're pretty pumped to get under,” team member Brioni Oliver said.
CrossFit Brisbane put up a good fight, and finished close behind, but were unable to make it to the mat before the clock ticked over 10 minutes.
While all but one of the men’s teams made it under the time cap, it was a slower heat with the top time almost 20 seconds slower than the earlier heat.
Inner West CrossFit was dominant for the men and took the lead from the very first set of thrusters, going on to finish in a time of 8:16. Team member Duncan Yates said the team opted for the back-rack changeover because of their different heights.
“When you changeover at the front it can be a bit awkward,” he said. “It also came down to hand positioning. You can have your hands much wider with the back rack for changeover.”
The rope climbs provided a little more difficulty than expected.
“It was difficult with the rope not touching the floor,” Yates said. “There was so much more swing because there was less weight.”
CrossFit Loaded made a late chase on the last couplet, but couldn’t quite chase down Inner West, claiming second place.
In the final heat, just five groups of women managed to complete the event under the time cap with only seconds separating Tropic Thunder, CrossFit Active and CrossFit Athletic. The three teams proved to be a class above as their women powered through the 95-lb. thrusters.
Alahna Marshall was a clear standout for Tropic Thunder on the barbell, flying through the reps at almost two for every other competitor's one.
The transitions made the difference between the teams with some teams opting to change from the back rack, which proved slightly faster.
CrossFit Active took the victory however, with a time of 9:20. Athlete Courtney Fitzharris said they’d practiced the event in training.
“We had a lot of practice with our game plan, and it did all go according to plan,” she said. “We just really wanted to focus on communicating and letting each other know where we were at and it seemed to work, so we’re happy with how we did.”
Tropic Thunder landed on the mat just a second behind the women from CrossFit Active for a time of 9:21. Kate Wade said they’d been looking forward to the event.
"We executed it pretty well, really happy," Wade said. “The next two days are really hard. Happy with our effort in that event."
Heat 3 for the men was almost as close with Tropic Thunder taking an early lead before CrossFit Athletic overtook them.
CrossFit HPU became the standout performers in Heat 3 after quietly going about their business in lane nine. By their last set of thrusters CrossFit HPU had a clear lead and their men stayed strong under pressure to win by more than 10 seconds.
CrossFit Athletic hit the mat second and team member Paul Walton said they were happy with the result.
“The boys did better than in training, and the girls equaled their training time so very pleased,” he said. “Some teams will have strong guys and some will have strong girls, so I think it's good to separate them, it will really differentiate the team workouts.”
Team Event 4 Results
1. CrossFit Active (9:20)
2. Tropic Thunder (9:21)
3. CrossFit Athletic (9:35)
Team Event 5 Results
1. CrossFit HPU (7:35)
2. CrossFit Athletic (7:47)
3. Mount CrossFit (8:00)
The event record of 16:20 fell with just seconds to spare as Reebok CrossFit Frankston stormed home in a time of 16:08.
As expected, the strict handstand push-ups were the key component of this event and were a challenge for many teams. Three failed attempts by any athlete incurred a time cap and penalties for uncompleted reps.
It proved too much for some teams, with a large amount of the female athletes finding the strict handstand push-up to be their undoing.
For teams who had mastered strict handstand push-ups, transitions were also critical, with communication between team members essential.
CrossFit Norwest led but no teams completed the event under the 21-minute time cap.
With little rest between the three events of the day, fatigue played a part but Joel Chant from CrossFit Norwest said it wasn’t such a bad thing.
“'Not really, but we train multiple sessions at home. It's actually good because you don't have time to cool down,” he said. “You warm up, do your event, stay warm and eat, then go again. And now we're done for the day.”
Heat 2 saw Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne A come close to finishing inside the time cap however their sixth and final athlete did not have time to complete the prescribed work.
“We knew we had girls across the board who had strong handstand push-ups,” team member Andrew Lauterstein said. “We had to game plan with this WOD as one of our males didn't have the strongest handstand push-ups. It's hard to know how you're going when you're out there, but all you can do is focus on what you're trying to do.”
The final heat saw Tropic Thunder take an early and commanding lead that looked certain to hold before the women of Reebok CrossFit Frankston proved they had shoulders of steel to carry their team to an event record.
The strict handstand push-up continued to trouble athletes with more than a couple top heat athletes finding themselves stuck for far longer than anticipated.
The men from current competition leaders CrossFit Athletic found the movement problematic and were the last team to get a female on the floor.
This wasn’t an issue however, for Reebok CrossFit Frankston. Athlete Cobi Head said the team had been told by coach Rob Forte that they had a job to do.
“He obviously has a great depth of knowledge and experience at this level and further,” Head said. "He gave us all a job to do and told us to sprint between exercises and do our own individual thing. We came out with the best result that we could have, but we thought about 18 minutes was our predicted total.”
It was Shaella Gooch who had the most pressure on her with the clock rapidly ticking closer to the event record of 16:20. Gooch went unbroken on everything to make it under the time cap.
“We didn’t expect it, that was awesome. I didn’t even think we’d do that well,” she said.
CrossFit Active showed why they finished 12th at the CrossFit Games last year, maintaining a steady pace and taking second, more than a minute-and-a-half behind Frankston, and Active athlete Luke Starr said he was happy with the team’s performance.
“That's the kind of WOD where if you're not patient and you don't wait until you can go on the handstand, then you can have a lot of no-reps ... I was really happy with everyone’s patience, knowing when they could go, knowing their limit and just playing with those," he said. "When (the events) were announced, we started doing more strict handstand push-ups. We all have done this WOD in training a few times, most of the guys beat their times, if not equaled, and knew what to aim for.”
After taking such an early lead, Tropic Thunder was able to hold on to take third place in a time of 18:25.
With only three teams making it under the cap, the race for the podium and the ticket to Carson, California is only getting hotter.
Frankston’s performance has the potential to move them up the Leaderboard, but athlete Tommy Blain said the team was focused on Day 3.
“This could put us in fourth place. There are a fair few points between us and (the team above us), but we’ve still got two to go,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re not thinking about it. We’re thinking about what we need to do tomorrow. We’re just going to have fun with it.”
Event 6 Results
1. Reebok CrossFit Frankston (16:08)
2. CrossFit Active (17:57)
3. Tropic Thunder (18:27)
1. CrossFit Athletic (14)
2. Tropic Thunder (20)
3. CrossFit Active (21)
4. Reebok CrossFit Frankston (41)
5. SchwartzsCrossFit Melbourne (44)
6. Southern CrossFit - Green (49)
7. CrossFit HPU (71)
8. Team ALIVE (71)
9. CrossFit Active Units (73)
10. Raw Commando (77)
At the end of Day 2, the top three teams have worked themselves into a near untouchable position. Reebok CrossFit Frankston sits 20 points behind in fourth place.