Shaun and Chris Eagen are first cousins who grew up together spending weekends and holidays together as most extended families do, often staging family football games on the big holidays. Those Thanksgiving Day football games must have been something to see, as there are some serious athletic genes in this crew.
In 2011, these cousins both made a splash in the Open and Regionals that put them on the radar in Northern California. Chris finished the Open strong, with a 10th place ranking in the Region, but had a very disappointing showing at Regionals. A foot fault on the Thruster Ladder left him with a poor score and put him in “too deep a hole” to recover. Shaun finished the Open in 22nd and charged hard at Regionals ending the weekend in 9th place.
Shaun (25, 6’3”, 225 lbs.) and Chris (28, 5’10.5”, 185 lbs.) both grew up in Los Gatos, Calif., but went to different high schools. Although only two grades apart, they never faced off head-to-head in high school sports. The two ended up competing in Division II college sports – Shaun playing football and throwing the javelin, and Chris playing baseball.
They both started CrossFit in their hometown, at CrossFit Los Gatos. Shaun got a head start on Chris, and began doing CrossFit in 2009. He was talked into doing the 2009 Last Chance Qualifier, but he couldn’t even do a double-under yet. He then started doing local competitions, got his Level 1 Trainer Certificate late that summer, and was hooked.
About a year later, Shaun fulfilled his dream of opening up his own gym with his aunt – Lifeworx Fitness and CrossFit. Right on the heels of competing in the 2010 South West Regional, Shaun and his partners were putting in 12-hour days to get their new gym ready for a July opening.
Chris however, was just getting in to CrossFit at that time and was working out at CrossFit Los Gatos. Although sad to see Shaun go, he had a lot of personal training clients and a great home and community at CrossFit Los Gatos.
Even though they are still close, the cousins have chosen their own strategy in preparing for the Games. Shaun does his own programming, and competes as often as he can – winning or posting impressive finishes in local and regional competitions. Given his size and strength – he has a 315–pound clean & jerk and a 265-pound snatch – he also makes it a habit to train with smaller and faster athletes to push himself.
Chris has been using a coach, USAW athlete and strength coach Billy Bybee, who also got his start at CrossFit Los Gatos. Bybee knows Chris’ strengths and weaknesses, and sends over a workout program every week, keeping close tabs on his progress. Chris credits Bybee with giving him a true “game plan” for the first time. His strength numbers are up – 300-pound clean and jerk, 370-pound back squat by five, and 225-pound snatch – and he has been focusing on longer met-cons.
Chris has competed in a few local team events, but hasn’t been as active on the competition circuit as Shaun. Not knowing how he would do in last year’s Open, Chris did the Open workouts multiple times, and burned himself out before the Regional. Now, his game plan is to peak at Regionals.
As for expectations, the Eagen cousins consider themselves among the top 10 in the NorCal Region. Friendly and somewhat soft spoken, neither of these athletes will admit to a fierce family rivalry. However, each has a little grin on their face when talking about the other cousin and they both flip the switch extra hard on the rare occasion they train together. It’s obvious they’ll be closely tracking each other’s progress in the Open and beyond.
Armed with a year of focused training and more competition experience, they both know anything can happen at Regionals. It all depends on the workouts. “You have to go in and just give it your all,” Chris says. “Don’t think about defeat or winning, just let your tools take over.”
Both athletes say they know NorCal is a touch Region. “The field is stacked, nasty,” Shaun says. “NorCal … well, it’s NorCal.”