CrossFit Jenks of the North Central Region has an unofficial team name: The Six-Man Wolf Pack. “We have a sweet little handshake with some howling like wolves to really get us fired up,” teammate Matt Stowers says.
Also on the roster is Nicole Berry, Paige Millspaugh, Christina Merlo, Kara Paslay, Denver McPhail, Anthony Taylor and four-time Games veteran Breck Berry.
This is not the first time this pack has been on the prowl. The team competed once before, taking first place in the 2011 HOA Affiliate Competition. “HOA was my first time competing on a team,” Breck Berry says. “I learned a lot. So I said, if you all want to do it and go team, I’m all for it.”
Team Jenks was confident heading into the Regional this year. “Once we started practicing, I knew we had a great chance of placing at Regionals. In fact, I was going to be very disappointed if we didn’t make it,” McPhail says.
Jenks did not disappoint. They took first in team Diane with an impressive time of 4:39. They placed within the top three in the remaining workouts. At the end of the weekend, CrossFit Jenks stood in the first place spot.
“I knew we had something special. We are all very strong individual competitors, so in my head putting six very strong people together is a recipe for success,” Merlo says. “The outcome was more than I could have hoped for.”
Jenks is preparing for the Games under the guidance of CrossFit Huntsville’s
David Berry. Berry is an active duty Army major with 24 years of service, a USAW Olympic Weightlifting Level 1 Sports Performance coach and a Level 2 CrossFit coach.
“He has been doing our programming. He is very passionate about CrossFit and is very innovative with his programming. He is one of the best coaches I have ever had,” McPhail says. “Our team has a tremendous amount of respect for him, and we try to do everything as he instructs us to do. Basically, Saturday or Sunday evening he sends us a training schedule for the week. To give you a brief overview, we rest two days a week, train as individuals two days a week (twice daily), and train as a team three days a week, usually consecutive days to mimic the Games weekend. Two WODs daily with a strength.”
Millspaugh agrees that the guidance of Berry has been a tremendous asset for the team, as they balance their coaching schedules and families. “We just go to work and don't have to worry about what we should and should not be working on,” she says. “It has been super challenging but a lot of fun at the same time.”
Team Jenks athletes are close in and out of the box. “I can definitely say that training for Regionals and the Games has brought us even closer as a team,” Merlo says.
They have traveled together to watch the Games in years past and take a yearly ski trip every February. “These guys are my best friends. Matt and I go way back. I’m very close to Paige and her husband Joe. Christina is the female version of me,” McPhail explains. “Breck and Nicole changed my life when they opened CrossFit Jenks. So, I would say we are very close. It is truly a privilege being a part of this team and knowing and liking these individuals on a personal level.”
CrossFit Jenks can only speculate on what is in store for them at the Home Depot Center. The only concern for the team is being asked to go extremely heavy in a workout. “I always say we are small, but mighty. We don’t have really big males or females on the team,” Merlo says. “I would say we are actually on the smaller size as far as body composition. But we can definitely hold our own in the strength events.”
Millspaugh elaborates: “I would say our smaller size would be our greatest deficit, but it could be an asset as well.”
Combined, the team has sports backgrounds in wrestling, football, baseball, gymnastics and dance. Whatever is programmed, CrossFit Jenks feels ready. “There are definitely going to be some surprises, but that’s CrossFit. Swimming, biking, team hoover ball, softball throws, etc., would all be very exciting,” McPhail says. “We are looking forward to whatever they throw our way. But, in the end, it is going to be the unknowable, doing the unknown as a team. We are very thrilled about that. Having the opportunity to compete in the pit like the gladiators of ancient Rome? It’s truly an honor.”