“I enjoy competing on the team more than individual, but this is a personal challenge for me to be efficient and hope my body holds up and be smart about competing.”
In 2012, Kendall Burnham and Ben Stoneberg led CrossFit Intensify, of Springfield, Ore., to the top of the North West Regional and 14th at the CrossFit Games. This year, Burnham and Stoneberg will both compete at Regionals, but this time as part of the Individual competition.
Stoneberg finished first overall in the North West in the Open this year. He also competed in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, finishing 20th. Last year, an injured wrist left him feeling less confident as an individual, but he knew he could contribute to a very strong team. That team delivered at Regionals, beating the perennial favorites, CrossFit Fort Vancouver, in the last team event to take the top spot at the North West Regional.
Competing with the team at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Stoneberg had a much different Games experience than in 2011.
“You have to rely on the team to get the work done and there’s a lot of strategy involved,” he says.
Intensify also brought a “Red Sea” of fans to the Games, with nearly 30 members making the trip to Southern California to cheer on their team.
In preparation for Regionals, Stoneberg has been working on his strength. Before finding CrossFit, Stoneberg did a lot of powerlifting in a globo gym. His recent PRs include a front squat of 425 lb., an overhead squat of 350 lb. and a back squat of 465 lb.
Stoneberg’s goals for Regionals are to make it back to the Games as an Individual, but he’d be happy to make top five in the region.
“I’m gonna have fun no matter what,” he says.
“If Kendall and I don’t do well in Regionals, we always have a good team to go back to next year.”
CrossFit Intensify’s team members finished strong in the Open, with many of their competitors finishing top 100 in the region. But with Intensify’s top two athletes going individual, younger members with less experience can get a chance to compete at a higher level, which Burnham believes can make for a stronger team in the future.
“There’s a huge learning curve in competing,” Burnham says. “The things you learn from failures and successes — you can’t really learn that without competing. We have some younger, talented kids in here and the earlier they can experience that, the better. It’s even better with team because you have your teammates there to support you.”
Burnham decided to go individual when Stoneberg did.
“I told Ben I’d do whatever he does,” she laughs.
Thirty-eight-year-old Burnham placed fourth overall among a strong field of North West women in the Open. The decision to go individual was a difficult one for Burnham, who competed as an individual at Regionals in 2010, finishing eighth and in 2011, finishing fifth.
Burnham admits to making mistakes in previous Regional competition, so this year, her goals are to have fun, stay healthy and maintain consistency throughout the weekend.
“I don’t want to over-analyze or over-strategize,” she says. “Just go out, and have fun and do my best. I’m hoping to compete this year with a stronger mental approach.”
Consistent training is always a goal, but rarely a reality. With two young children, Burnham and her husband’s spend most of their time on their business, coaching T-ball and softball and volunteering at the kids’ school.
“I find pockets of time to train, so I have to be efficient, using the tools I’ve learned while training the past few years,” she says.
“My training is not as planned or as consistent as it was last year, but I’m still improving all the time.”
Burnham’s skills are improving and she feels like she’s a more balanced athlete, even though she doesn’t have as much time to put in as she wants to, and most importantly, “it’s still fun.”
“I enjoy competing on the team more than individual, but this is a personal challenge for me to be efficient and hope my body holds up and be smart about competing,” she says. “We’re really deep with talent in our gym and this gives them an opportunity to compete, and it will help us next year.”