With only a short night’s rest, the athletes returned for a third and final day of work in the home of the Alamo.
Event 5 would prove to be a much faster-paced showcase of athletic ability than last night’s grueling chipper of back squats, front squats, overhead squats, shoulder-to-overheads, and pull-ups.
Today, the competitors would start off by tackling one of the most technical skills of CrossFit – the snatch. The movement would be performed with increasing difficulty as competitors moved up a ladder of bars, adding additional weight to their setup each time.
With the end of the competition quickly approaching and the Leaderboard beginning to settle, the pressure was on for fringe athletes to perform their best to work their way into the top 18 individuals and top 12 teams before cuts this afternoon.
At the top of the Leaderboard, the fight was on in the women’s division to secure second or 3rd place behind Regionals – dominator Azadeh Boroumand, and among the men, the top three spots still had some wiggle room depending on performance over the course of the day.
Aja Barto (295)
Courtney Wuistinger (255.10)
Drew Bignall (245.13)
The men’s event got off to a slow start as athletes with an Olympic lifting weakness began to struggle. Many of the competitors found themselves fighting at 205 and 15 athletes in, only Wesley Sun Chee Fore had managed to work his way past 225. Sun Chee Fore set the bar early by wrapping up his performance at a finishing weight of 235. Moving into the middle of the pack, the range of performance remained steady as many of the men still found themselves caught in the 205 to 215 range.
The event found its high point, though, among the top 12 athletes as a series of dramatic and exciting moments ensued. First, Ryan Kent scared the crowd for a moment as a failed rep at 215 pounds landed on the back of his neck, sending his body and forehead straight into the ground. He quickly shook it off, though, and focused his efforts on racking up some extra double-unders, ignoring the blood trickling down his forehead. Courtney Wuistinger was next to get the crowd going as he matched Brandon Phillips of the South East Region for the heaviest lift of the day at 255 pounds. Falling in after Wuistinger, we saw Paul Smith and Bryan Diaz finish with 235-pound lifts. Jason Hoggan rounded out the group of top performers with a rep of 225 pounds and 25 double-unders.
Aja Barto, who put up a 265-pound snatch at the 2011 Games in the second skills test, provided the most exciting performance of the individual men’s event. He surpassed Wuistinger’s 255, and then passed through 265, 275, and 285 in short order. As he approached the final bar in the snatch ladder, loaded with 295 pounds, the audience stood to support him and to get a good view of the 6’5” athlete taking the weight from ground to overhead in one smooth motion.
“I wanted to start like I finish and finish like I started 295,” Barto said. “The only difference is the load, but it’s the same set-up, same everything as 155.”
In the final moments, Barto fought to lock out at the top, but as the crowd cheered him on, he pulled through to finish the lift. “I was so confident in this workout,” Barto said. “When it was released, I knew I had to stay on point, confident, and believe in myself through the whole weekend.”
Azadeh Boroumand (170)
Kelly Hennigan (145.21)
Holly Mata (145)
For the individual women’s competition, the athletes came prepared to display their strength, but with two rough days of competition behind them and plenty of double-unders ahead, mastery of technique and sheer power made all the difference in Event 5. While those in line worked to stay warm, the eliminations began. Cassidy Lance set the tone for the day as she worked her way up to 140 pounds. Just behind her, contenders Candice Ruiz, Ingrid Kantola and Amanda Schwartz matched her at that weight.
Impressively, Holly Mata and Kelley Hennigan each made lifts at 145 pounds, but unsurprisingly, it was the leader, Azadeh Boroumand, who caught the eye. She started off steady, squat-snatching every lift. The true excitement began, though, as she blazed past the highest lifts so far with ease. As the only competitor left in the event, she showed the crowd at the South Central Regional what it takes to make it to the Games.
Boroumand crushed her personal record of 155 and moved forward, looking stronger than ever. Moving up to the 170-pound barbell, Boroumand took a deep breath and pulled. The crowd cheered as she locked out at the top, finishing with a wide smile. After completing the rep, Boroumand passed on the next lift at 175 and gracefully signed her card, satisfied with her performance. The crowd rewarded her with a thunder of applause. When asked about her performance, Boroumand said, “I was really surprised about that 170. I think you could kind of tell on my face. We don’t really do legitimate maxes at the gym — for me it’s more so of an injury prevention thing. I guess I wasn’t really aware of what my actual max snatch ever was. I would usually stop at 155. With the adrenaline, though, and just how the crowd was so lively — something just takes over you and you just keep going.”
CrossFit Dallas Central (1130)
CrossFit Cedar Park (1055)
CrossFit Waco (1055)
CrossFit Dallas Central
Bayou City CrossFit
CrossFit Cedar Park
The Women’s portion of the snatch ladder got off to a rough start as the first eight teams struggled to work their way past the 135 pound barbell. Attempt after attempt, women were eliminated as bars came crashing down. Finally, a spark of hope appeared as Jenny Wang of River City CrossFit worked her way up to a successful lift of 150 pounds, a five-pound personal record.
As the women of the top-seeded teams took to the ladder, another surprise occurred as Carey Kepler, 3rd place finisher at the 2009 CrossFit Games, was unable to complete the 125-pound snatch. As CrossFit Central faltered, the women of CrossFit Dallas Central jumped on the opportunity to solidify their first-place ranking. Jules Kennedy powered the team through, finishing with the second highest lift of the day at 150 pounds. When asked about her team’s performance, Kennedy credited her teammates: “The second girl to go — she PR’d at 125, she only had done 115 in practice, so that was huge for us. Audra [LeBeau] and I hit our practice weights, too, so we were happy. We did exactly what we needed to do.”
At the end of the day, though, it would be Nikki Isbell of CrossFit Cedar Park with the best lift of the team competition, inspiring cheers from the crowd. As she locked out under the 155 pound bar, she drove the weight up and waited for the thumbs up from her judge. With a five-pound personal record under her belt, she slammed the bar to the ground and raised her arms in celebration. Her success was particularly remarkable in light of the fact that she was competing with a bulging disc in her back.
After a short break, the men’s bars were laid out and the competitors made their way onto the arena floor. As the lifting began, 205 was an early sticking point as many of the lower-seeded teams struggled to advance. When the top teams of the weekend started to emerge, however, the weight started to fly, many times reaching the 245-pound mark.
The thuds of the now heavier barbells began to shake the room, and soon the largest crowd of the weekend was on their feet as a standout from CrossFit Strong made the weight look light. Jeremy Calahan’s powerful frame at 6’2” and the 275-pound barbell became the center of attention as he rolled through the ladder without a struggle. As he marched past 275, and 285 the cheers grew louder. He approached the final bar, stacked with 295, and took a breath. As he set up, cell phones lit up the room as fans used their cameras to capture the first person of the day to complete the snatch ladder. He threw up the weight with ease and as the crowd screamed, he held the bar overhead, taunting the audience with, “Should I put it down?”
Finally, he let the bar slip from his hands and motioned to the crowd that it was nothing. “I made it all the way through the ladder because I’ve got great coaching and I’ve got great teammates,” said Calahan. “It’s never easy. Adrenaline makes you do crazy things though, right?”
As the top teams followed, CrossFit Central once again saw early losses of teammates, leaving Jeremy Thiel to fend for the team through all of the heavier lifts. While strong form delivered Thiel past 235, he was unable to successfully lift 245. Once again jumping on Central’s struggle, Bayou City and CrossFit Dallas Central rolled though. Among the leading teams, it was CrossFit Dallas Central who went the furthest under chants from their affiliate members of “DC, DC, DC” until they reached, but could not complete the 265 pound snatch.