“The last workout, the last couple years has been a winner-take-all kind of deal and we feel very well rounded and prepared to threaten to take a podium spot down in that kind of situation for sure."
When Team Dynamix finished the 2013 Open in third place in the North East, they predicted they would finish the Regional in a better position.
In September, CrossFit Dynamix owner and head coach Justin Cotler started adding names to the team roster.
“They came to me wanting to compete on the team,” Cotler says. “I didn't seek them out. That's the beautiful thing about this team. There is no ‘I,’ there is only ‘we.’ There is no selfishness, only selflessness. They put their trust in me as a coach, in Dynamix as a home and in each other as a family.”
Team Dynamix started with two former individual athletes who competed at the 2012 North East Regional — David Charbonneau, who finished fourth, and Christina Gloger, who finished 19th. The team also added a relative newcomer to the team, Chris Clyde, an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Returning team members are 2011 North East Regional sixth-place finisher Kylee Claxton, former gymnast and pole-vaulter Michelle Kercado and former football player Joel Willis.
Noticeably absent from the roster is Cotler, who competed on Team Dynamix at the 2012 North East Regional.
“My experience last year was two-fold,” Cotler says. “We were the only box in the five boroughs to qualify a team to Regionals and after only being open for a few months and finishing top 10 at Regionals, I was incredibly proud. However, I was a basket case. Running a new business, competing on the team, coaching and programming for the team, I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained. After 2012 Regionals, I knew this year I would focus strictly on running the business, coaching and programming. Plus, I had shoulder surgery, which made the decision not to compete that much easier.”
In preparation for the 2013 season, the whole team trains together every weekend under the watchful eye of Cotler. For Team Dynamix, “work hard, play hard” is more than just a cliché.
“We are all extremely talented and work very hard,” Kercado says. “But what sets us apart from the rest is our genuine love and respect for one another, and that we are all in this to have fun. We all have unique personalities and great attitudes. It makes the pain and monotony of training ridiculously fun. I absolutely love working out with my team. You're guaranteed to laugh.”
At the 2013 North East Regional, Team Dynamix started the weekend in third place after completing Jackie, despite technical difficulties. Claxton started off on the rower and as the clock counted down, her rower screen went black. Judges were able to get it restarted, but she lost precious seconds. Both she and teammate Clyde went unbroken on the pull-ups trying to make up for some of the lost time. Their time (12:33) was only six seconds behind second-placed CrossFit King of Island Park (12:27) and 10 seconds behind first-placed CFNE Team A (12:23).
Heading into the last day of competition in first place with a six-point advantage over CFNE Team A, Dynamix seemed poised to dethrone the perennial North East champions.
Everything was going according to plan until Event 6. Charbonneau and Gloger were on deck to tackle the wearisome chipper. They were in third place heading under the wall to move on to handstand push-ups after completing the double-unders. Charbonneau was looking forward to taking the lead, but that’s when things started falling apart.
“They called us for not locking out about 20 times,” Cotler says. “The guy's handstand push-ups are unreal, but they kept telling him he had to frame his lockout, essentially making him hold at the top and it destroyed his shoulders and the WOD fell apart quickly. In practice we had gone sub-nine. We went 12:57 in Canton.”
Team Dynamix finished Event 6 in sixth place, good enough to maintain their first place overall with 18 points. CFNE Team A won Event 6 and was within one point of first place with 19 points.
Going into Event 7, Team Dynamix’s spot on the podium was virtually guaranteed. The quest now was for first place.
Team Dynamix and CFNE Team A both had their share of no-reps on the squat cleans, but in the end Team Dynamix was able to pull away with a lead of almost a minute to win Event 7 (16:18) and finish the weekend in first place overall.
“We regrouped emotionally and mentally and crushed Event 7,” Cotler says. “I had a feeling we could win the whole thing, and when Michelle crossed the finish line and it was official, it was the best feeling in the world.”
After celebrating the win, Team Dynamix wasted no time getting back to training and setting new goals.
“Put it this way, our breather was the car ride home from Boston,” Claxton says. “And our box has more new toys every day to practice for the unknown.”
The team is hoping the Games events will favor a well-rounded team versus a team of specialists. They are hoping for heavy programming, which would give all their team members a chance to showcase their strength.
“I think our team is incredibly well rounded,” Gloger says. “We are all good at weightlifting, as well as gymnastics. We have some really strong team members and none of us are specialists at just one discipline, which I think is very useful in CrossFit. We will do well with any barbell and strength-based met-cons.”
Training has not slowed down for the team, which has been hosting mini throwdowns with different Regional competitors every week, including Team CrossFit King of Island Park, Team Shoreline CrossFit and individual North East Regional competitor, Christian Harris.
The team has also been working on individual weaknesses, and adding larger loads, strongman, swimming and rock climbing to their programming.
“We are very aware of what we are capable of as athletes and as a team,” Clyde says. “We are just trying to keep everyone healthy, happy and aggressive. We will naturally taper off the intensity leading up to the week of the Games so we can execute at and above the level of performance we have already proven we are capable of.”
Team Dynamix is also hoping the format for the last event of the Games is similar to that of past years.
“The last workout, the last couple years has been a winner-take-all kind of deal and we feel very well rounded and prepared to threaten to take a podium spot down in that kind of situation for sure,” Clyde says. “Plus, doing the final workout in the stadium would be beyond surreal and epic!”
With that in mind, their goal for the Games is evident.
“Our goal for the Games is to make the last (event) and hopefully find a spot on that podium,” Charbonneau says. “If the (events) go our way, I feel like we stand a good chance.”