“My goal this year was to make it to the Games. You know, I kind of look at it now as the pressure is off. I plan to go out there, have fun and enjoy it."
Daniel Petro, (pronounced PEE-tro), owner and coach at CrossFit West Cobb, entered this year’s South East Regional with one goal in mind: make it to the Games.
After a fourth-place finish in the Open and a 16th-place finish worldwide, the 25-year-old former baseball player competed at Regionals for the second year in a row.
Beginning CrossFit only four months before making it to Regionals in 2012, Petro says he didn’t know what to expect.
“My goal then was just make it to Regionals,” he says. “I didn’t care how I did once I got there. I wanted to go and experience it, learn from it and see where my weaknesses were. See who was stronger and kind of assess myself against the other athletes.”
After finishing in 11th place last year, Petro left West Palm Beach knowing what he needed to do in preparation for this year’s Regional. Upon returning home, he began working almost immediately with Aaron Evans of Proving Grounds DGA who has done most of Petro’s programming.
His year of hard work was evident on the first day of this year’s Regional when he finished day one in third place.
“I knew the first day would be a pretty good day for me, and it wouldn’t be too much of a workload,” Petro says. “So going into Saturday, I knew I would have plenty of energy left.”
Petro admits he was a little nervous about Event 1, benchmark workout Jackie.
“I knew that for about 30 guys, we would all be within 30 or 40 seconds of each other,” he says. “It was risky because just one little mistake, and you could drop 10 places. On that one, I knew I could not mess around.”
Petro got a new PR on Jackie, finishing in 5:24 and starting out the weekend with a fifth-place finish.
For the rest of the weekend, consistency was key.
“Saturday, I knew it was more about surviving,” he says. “I knew I wouldn’t win (Events 4 and 5), but I knew I would be OK if I could stay in the top 10 on those two events and just get to Sunday.”
Consistency proved to be the winning strategy as the Leaderboard shuffled all weekend.
“We don’t have that one, crazy superstar in our region,” Petro says. “Most regions, there are four or five guys fighting for the top three spots. In (the South East), it’s more like the top 15 guys fighting for it.”
Petro fought hard for his podium finish and ended the weekend in third place overall, securing his spot to the Games.
Since returning from Regionals, he has been training with other Games qualifiers in the Atlanta area as well as the CrossFit Atlanta Formulx team.
“I love being so close to so many high-caliber athletes,” Petro says. “And I love being able to meet up with them and workout. I can’t really add more workload. I am pretty much competition ready all year and do as much volume as I am capable of doing all year long, so I will just continue with the same workload,” he says. “I am going outside the gym now and adding things like swimming, sled pushes and just trying to do things I may see (at the Games).”
No stranger to competing in front of crowds during his years of playing baseball, Petro says competing at Regionals was a completely different experience.
“In baseball, when you win, you get to enjoy it with other people,” he says. “When you compete by yourself, there is no one else to blame when you lose, but then, equally, there’s no one else really to take credit when you win.”
“I have a great team around me. My girlfriend, Mary Freeland, really helps me with my food, and I have an awesome coach, but I still have to put in all the work. It’s a cool feeling to me, and I don’t mind. I’m OK with working hard and to be able to get an awesome reward for it, it’s really cool.”
Petro says his college career in baseball, along with the mental side that went with it, has been very helpful in his success in CrossFit, especially when it comes to the Olympic lifts.
“In baseball, you spend so much time doing tiny critiques on each little movement and trying to become as efficient as possible. It’s kind of like that with a lot of the movements we do in CrossFit,” he says. “To go through the motions and not get any better and work all day because you’re not being efficient, some people don’t have that discipline and that patience, I think. In baseball, you spend hours and hours and hours working on the tiniest thing.
“I think that (experience) helps me with my training and helps me have a more patient outlook to my training, and a better understanding of my weaknesses and strengths, how to use them and how to strategize.”
With the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games only a few weeks away, Petro is putting in the work, but remains humble.
“My goal this year was to make it to the Games. You know, I kind of look at it now as the pressure is off. I plan to go out there, have fun and enjoy it. I don’t know what my expectations should be. I have no idea what the workouts are going to be because they do all kinds of crazy stuff out there. I’m not worried about it. I’m pretty good at adapting, so I think finding out just a few days before would actually suit me better,” he says.
“My goals are to soak it in. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t think it is a shoo-in for next year or even the year after because the South East has proven there are no guarantees whatsoever. I just want to enjoy the opportunity and just experience it because not a lot of people get to do this, and I recognize that.”