Today in the Central East, Julie Foucher, the world's second fittest, watched as a spectator at the Ohio Expo Center.
"I'm more stressed out being a spectator,” Foucher said from the sidelines. “I want everyone to do well. I miss competing and I'm taking my medical boards, which is very time-consuming. There are so many girls here that can go to the Games, so I have no idea who it will be."
In second place entering Event 5, CrossFit Games athlete Lindsey Smith is feeling Foucher’s absence on the competition floor. She said last year, it felt like competing for two spots, but this year is different. Not only is Jennifer Smith from CrossFit Maximus competing individually for the first time, but heading into the final event of Day 2, she’s winning. Julianne Broadbent, another former team competitor, is also flying solo and looking solid after four Events.
After a morning of 100 wall balls and one-legged squats, deadlifts and heavy box jumps seem like a mountain. As is often the case, easy on paper is anything but on the floor.
Event 5 favored those who love a good sprint, and CrossFit Lower Town showed the crowd they like moving fast. Finishing with a time of 8:03.1, they emerged from the woodwork in first place for the event, putting them fifth overall at the end of Day 2.
The final heat rocked the team Leaderboard like a renegade wave.
CrossFit NapTown was the first to finish the male set of 21 deadlifts, with CrossFit New Albany close behind. But it would be CrossFit Mayhem’s man who would return to the bar first, the only one with the stamina to rebound from the floor while CrossFit NapTown stumbled wildy into a no-rep.
However, Sarah Stobbe of CrossFit Lower Town made the most dramatic move, shooting unexpectedly from the far left lane, the first female on the floor. With a metronomic pace and deliberate hip extension on each jump, Strobbe took the lead in her second set of deadlifts. She never let it go.
At 7:41, she was the only woman leaping her last set of box jumps, and took both the heat and the Event with a time of 8:03.1.
"Our strategy was just trying to breathe and don't look at anybody except the box and bar,” Strobbe said. “The amount of support we have here is amazing!"
In CrossFit, the clock is king, and it only took a precious few minutes for the weekend’s former team leaders to fade into the background. Event 5 was just spicy enough to shake up the Leaderboard.
Just 12 points separate first place from second. In the lead after Day 2, CrossFit New Albany is pulling away from the ranks, but only four points span between second and fourth.
1. CrossFit Lower Town (8:03.1)
2. 8th Day Gym (8:03.5)
3. CrossFit New Albany (8:21.6)
1. CrossFit New Albany (26)
2. CrossFit NapTown Competition Team (34)
3. Indy North Black (35)
4. CrossFit Mayhem (38)
5. CrossFit Lower Town (42)
With Elisabeth Akinwale’s record of 2:45 hanging like a dark cloud, competitors stepped up to the bar for 45 deadlifts and 45 box jumps.
With a 440-lb. max deadlift, CrossFit Conjugate's Taylor Drescher was a crowd favorite. But when the Marine began, it was clear the weekend had already taken its toll. With two stumbles on the box, she opted to exchange rebounding for stepping.
The lesson cost her, giving Merrill Mullis of CrossFit Ann Arbor time to pass her for the win of the second heat, in 3:35.2.
"I've done this under 4 minutes in practice, but never this fast,” Mullis said afterward. “I think Jen Smith and Jen Osborn will have faster times, but I finally feel I had a good workout."
Her prediction was right, as Osborn deadlifted her way to her first heat win of the weekend. After struggling all weekend to stay competitive, Event 5 proved to be her best performance yet. Despite a dramatic spill off her box’s edge in the first half, she finished in 3:25.8, faster than any woman before her.
"I wanted a sub 3, but I'm happy,” Osborn said. “I wouldn't be surprised if Jen Smith gets a sub 3."
The final women’s heat of the day fired back with a bullet named Michelle Kinney.
Michelle Kinney and Jennifer Smith hit the first set of box jumps at the same time, both after an unbroken set of 21 deadlifts. Smith was the first to return to her bar, pulling her belt tight as she struggled to walk, toes turned out and hamstrings taught.
Kinney, on the other hand, transitioned much faster, looking fresher. She briefly paused to re-grip on the bar, just before moving ahead of Smith who began to break down her set of 15 more and more.
For the first time since the Central East region began, Smith wavered. She stepped back from her bar repeatedly, looked into the stands and let Lindy Wall sneak in just as she had done one event prior. The former team competitor learned what individual competition is about.
Kinney finished her last set of box jumps as quickly as she had done her first with one difference; she forgot a rep and her judge called her back costing her valuable. She ran onto her platform in 3:21.3.
"This (event) was a lot faster than my 2011 performance, even with my little extra trip around the box," Kinney said.
Wall continued to extend her lead on Jennifer Smith until her last set of deadlifts where multiple no-reps allowed Smith to regain control and tap her platform at 3:56.8. Wall followed 11 seconds later.
1. Michelle Kinney (3:21.3)
2. Jennifer Osborn (3:25.8)
3. Merrill Mullis (3:35.2)
1. Jennifer Smith (18)
2. Michelle Kinney (21)
3. Lindsey Smith (34)
4. Lindy Wall (37)
5. Julianne Broadbent (39)
Event 5 for the men of the Central East was all about hands and hamstrings. Who could hold on the longest, who could ignore the burn.
Newcomer Ken Battiston from Infinity CrossFit, who had been quiet the entire event, looked fresh finishing his first round. He didn't seem to belong, rebounding while others stepped. He finished the Event in 3:43, good enough for second place.
"I wanted this one,” Battiston said. "I've done this one in 4:30, but today felt better.”
The crowd was almost conned into thinking his time would hold out. That was until the final heat.
Rich Froning had been the Central East’s only event record breaker so far. As he faced his bar before the final event of Day 2, the crowd sparked, willing him to demolish Austin Malleolo’s 3:19, still standing strong in the fourth week of competition.
However, it would be Hendren and Holmberg getting the crowds attention by finishing their rounds of 21 before the champ, who was taking full breaths at the top of each box jump before rebounding back up.
By hanging on to his bar while Holmberg re-gripped, the farm boy from Columbus crossed his platform in 3:35, taking first in the Event.
“I really needed that,” Hendren says. “If I had any hope for the weekend I needed to win this one. I walked up to the bar and told myself I wouldn't put it down. Two more events tomorrow and I have a shot."
Froning followed, again, sauntering to his platform in 3:55 and looking at his training partner, Dan Bailey, who had been ahead of the champ until the set of nines. Even though his last few deadlifts looked like they were out of quicksand, he finished in third with a time of 4:01.
1. Marcus Hendren (3:35.8)
2. Ken Battiston (3:42.6)
3. Rich Froning (3:55.5)
1. Rich Froning (11)
2. Dan Bailey (21)
3. Scott Panchik (22)
4. Graham Holmberg (25)
5. Gerald Sasser (29)