Former South East athletes Emily Friedman and Anna Tunnicliffe are doing well in the Mid Atlantic after two weeks of Open competition.
The Mid Atlantic Regional women's podium has been occupied by veteran Games athletes year after year. Christy Phillips has competed at the CrossFit Games five times and Gretchen Kittelberger has made three appearances.
This season, they’ve got additional competition. The Mid Atlantic welcomed two Games athlete transplants from the South East: Emily Friedman and Anna Tunnicliffe.
After only two weeks of Open competition, Friedman and Tunnicliffe are on the path to qualification in their new region.
Friedman, a former professional softball player, is currently in seventh place in the Mid Atlantic. She has a solid history of regional competition behind her.
After only six months of CrossFit, Friedman debuted at the 2012 North East Regional and finished in sixth place. She then relocated to Atlanta and qualified to compete at the 2013 South East Regional, where she took third and earned a spot to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“It's still all surreal; the whole experience and how it changed my life," she said about last year’s Games, where she placed 25th.
She left the Games “hungry for more.”
In October, she left Atlanta to train full time at Hardbat CrossFit in Del., where she is coached by owners Ian Hardin and Derek Batman.
"I've been working my ass off. I've never done this much volume ever,” Friedman said about her preparation for this season.
Friedman's 14.1 performance of 360 tied her for 15th place. She had mixed feelings about the workout.
"My cardiovascular endurance is much better than the score I posted, but double-unders, believe it or not, are actually my worst movement, so that was the limiting factor for me," Friedman said.
Open Workout 14.2 was more in Friedman's wheelhouse. Her score of 267 earned her third place regionally.
"I really liked the workout a lot. Overhead squats are a strength of mine, and my pacing and game plan was pretty spot on," Friedman said.
She considered redoing the workout, but decided against it.
"I know I am capable of digging into those 20s, but my hands tore pretty badly and I needed to squat and focus on some other things," she said.
Friedman is focused on getting to the Games again this year.
"In general, I'm a competitive person, so I like to post competitive scores whenever possible. However, I also know that peaking for the Open and redoing workouts is not the way to win regionals or do well in the big picture. So, I'm trying to use the Open for training and keep my focus on getting ready for that next step,” Friedman said.
Currently, Tunnicliffe is in first place with the top female score on both 14.1 (431) and 14.2 (276) in the Mid Atlantic.
She’s no stranger to competition. Tunnicliffe competed at the Summer Olympics twice for sailing and won a gold medal in Beijing in 2012. She started CrossFit as her training program for sailing but after Beijing, got serious about competing in the sport.
Tunnicliffe went to the South East Regional for the first time in 2013. However, it was the second time she had qualified to compete regionally.
"I did the Open in 2012 and qualified for regionals, but they were a week before the Olympic Trials, so obviously I couldn't do regionals," she said.
Tunnicliffe trained hard after the Olympics and once again, qualified for the South East Regional, where she took second place and earned an invitation to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
"It was amazing. There were so many incredible athletes … I was in awe the whole time," Tunnicliffe said of her experience at the Games, where she finished in ninth place.
After the Games, she moved to Pittsburgh with her boyfriend and coach, Brad Tobias, who was opening CrossFit Mt. Lebanon. Tunnicliffe said they focused on strength and skills post-Games, and increased metabolic conditioning work leading up to the Open.
Tunnicliffe's 14.1 score of 398 was a full 33 reps away from second-ranked Alea Helmick.
"My strategy was to just keep moving, to not put the bar down except for when I was done with the 15 reps," she said. "The idea for the dubs was to keep going and trip as few times as possible. The forearms though ... wow! They hurt during that one."
She had to do the workout twice because of a video issue.
"I managed to score about 28 more reps, so I was happy about that, although not happy about the initial idea of having to redo it," she said.
Tunnicliffe was excited to see chest-to-bar pull-ups in 14.2.
“Last year going into the Open, my chest-to-bars were so bad. I missed advancing past the four-minute mark on 13.5 and it gutted me," she recalled.
She said she has spent a lot of time practicing chest-to-bars this year and it paid off. Tunnicliffe’s score of 267 earned her another first-place finish. She only did the workout once.
"I was bummed that I fell four reps shy of moving onto the round of 20s, but we had a hard week of training, so considering that, I guess I was happy with my score," she said.
She doesn’t spend her time leaderboarding.
"I don't look at the results, so I'm not sure where I am sitting in the Mid Atlantic,” Tunnicliffe said. “That's my coach’s job to look at the scores. I just have to do as well as I can on each workout."
Tunnicliffe said she is “pumped” about the Open, but her goal is the Games.
"My goal is to make it to the Games and to do better than I did last year. I know how hard I worked last year, so I've got to be even better by a long, long shot," she said.