"I had a full strategy. I had my reps and times planned, and I stuck to it and it worked.” ~Lindy Wall on Event 6
Five of the top 10 men from last year’s CrossFit Games call the Central East home, and as the final day of Regional competition kicked off, those same men were separated by less than 30 points.
2012 Games competitor Marcus Hendren started the day furthest from the Froning/Bailey/Holmberg/Panchik pack in seventh place. However, he did manage to end Day 2 with a first-place victory in the deadlift/box jump couplet leaving many to wonder if the momentum would be enough.
It was also in question if Heather Welsh would make another appearance at the Games. After five events, the former schoolteacher turned affiliate owner also sat in seventh place overall. With two chances left, Welsh trailed leader Jennifer Smith by 30 points.
With no runaway victories guaranteed, athletes on all sides buckled up for what would prove to be the bumpiest ride of the weekend so far — handstand push-ups, axle bars and lunges.
Teams ended their first event of the day with a heavy game of follow the leader with a loaded axle bar. Shoulder mobility and midline stability pays off after a three-day beat down.
Especially for CrossFit Polaris.
Joe Herren and Nikki Ralston got to their axle bar well before CrossFit Mayhem. For 15 continuous steps, Herren led Ralston.
CrossFit Mayhem remained on the shoulder-to-overheads. After one drop, a break and a breath, Herren began his last walk home. Four steps from the line, CrossFit Mayhem began walking but it was already too late. Polaris finished in 8:39.
"We really couldn't be happier,” Herren says. “We have so many great athletes. And of course anyone with a competitive spirit wants to be in the top three for a shot at Carson, but we really can't complain."
Team CrossFit Mayhem, making up ground with a much taller male and much fewer steps, sent both teammates across the line in 9:54.4.
"I think we were worried about the shoulder-to-overheads and lunges,” teammate Darren Hunsucker says. “We didn't do the workout before we came. It helped just going out and doing it. Winging it really works best. It's not strategy for us, it's an idea that this could work.”
Team Joco CrossFit sent their competitors across the line in 10:43.8, which would be good enough for third. CrossFit Grandview did not complete the workload in the time limit.
With the crowd screaming, Team CrossFit Grandview desperately tried to stay upright for 90 feet. They made it halfway before the bell rang. They were enveloped by their opponents directly after.
1. CrossFit Polaris (8:39)
2. CrossFit Mayhem (9:54.4)
3. JoCo CrossFit (10:43.8)
1. CrossFit New Albany (38)
2. CrossFit Mayhem (40)
3. CrossFit NapTown Competition Team (41)
After three first-place finishes and two event records, it’s going to take an act of God to steal the reigning champ’s spot to the CrossFit Games for the third time. And while he may know that, you'd never know by watching.
Rich Froning and every other athlete in the final heat went unbroken for 100 double-unders. But it was Dan Bailey who would take the early lead. He hit all 50 handstand push-ups unbroken, shook his arms out and immediately pumped out toes-to-bars, beating every competitor to the axle bar.
By the time Froning picked up his bar, Bailey was 20 reps in. Froning caught the bar efficiently with locked elbows, while Bailey jerked slightly bent. Quickly, Froning started to gain on his training partner. In the background, Holmberg and Hendren followed.
Six-and-a-half minutes in, Bailey was on the move. But Froning’s feet are faster and Bailey’s shoulders were taxed. Finally, Bailey’s back rounded and he dropped the bar. Froning didn't.
Like a juggernaut with tunnel vision, Froning crossed the line and dropped his bar. After pausing for a classic look to the stands, he stepped on his platform at 7:36.3, beating the event record Josh Bridges set weeks ago of 8:11.
"It's always fun to have a rabbit to chase like Dan Bailey,” Froning says.
Seconds later, he stepped back across the line to cheer on Bailey who finished in 8:15.9.
“We're all coaches first before being athletes and we do what we love to do which is to motivate people to push through,” Froning says. “It's easy for me to tell people to pick up the bar even when they don't want to."
Bailey didn’t seem to mind the encouragement.
"I knew Rich was there and right about halfway I had to put the bar down, but in the back of my head I knew Rich wouldn't,” Bailey says. “He's been competing so well but it's only pumped up my scores. Coming in second on that one gives me a shot to breathe a little.”
1. Rich Froning (7:36.3)
2. Dan Bailey (8:15.9)
3. Nick Fory (9:06.9)
1. Rich Froning (12)
2. Dan Bailey (23)
3. Scott Panchik (28)
On the Regional Floor, the middle three lanes are the place of honor. But in the women’s final heat, Lindy Wall tore all eyes to lane eight.
All morning, women struggled with the cumbersome axle bar. Rounded-back power cleans and slumped push-jerk catches proved just what a difference .78 inches in circumference makes after 50 handstand push-ups and 40 toes-to-bars.
For 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor Michelle Kinney, it was about redemption as she began double-unders right beside Jennifer Smith. She needed three points to take the lead.
With unbroken double-unders, Smith and Kinney crawled beneath the glass at the same time.
Smith and Kinney were soon reduced to sets of five and six, giving Wall the window to take the lead. In fewer sets than the rest, Wall made it to the toes-to-bars before the rest of the field. Kinney and Smith joined her after several sets more, but not before Broadbent.
Thirty seconds later, Wall moved on, leaving CrossFit Games athletes Lindsey Smith and Heather Welsh struggling with handstand push-ups.
On went the belt, up went the weight.
The robotic Wall peeled away at axle bar reps while Jennifer Smith worked to catch up. At 7:26, Wall started walking, and she never stopped.
"I had a full strategy,” Wall says. “I had my reps and times planned, and I stuck to it and it worked.”
With confident steps, she reached for her platform at 8:25.6, good enough for first place.
"I went in knowing my arms aren't my strength and if I could get to the lunges I could finish,” she says. “If you go mind over matter, you can do it. I heard my family from the beginning and it's unbelievable."
Wall was followed by Broadbent in 9:32, and Nicole Holcomb 10 seconds later, leaving Jennifer Smith, and Kinney, fighting to keep they’re first and second places. Both stepped on their platforms early enough to remain on top of the Leaderboard.
With barely two minutes to spare, CrossFit Games competitors Lindsey Smith and Welsh finished.
1. Lindy Wall (8:25.6)
2. Julianne Broadbent (9:32.6)
3. Nicole Holcomb (9:41.5)
1. Jennifer Smith (23)
2. Michelle Kinney (27)
3. Lindy Wall (38)