This morning, team BIGG Friends from Argentina took Latin America by surprise with two event wins to start the day.
But after teams and individuals swapped places on the competition floor, all eyes were on former two-time South West Regional competitor Leonidas Jenkins of CrossFit Coco Beach in Costa Rica, the first-place finisher in the Open in Latin America this year.
After placing 14th in the South West Regional last year, Jenkins became the first man since 2012 to best two-time CrossFit Games competitor Orlando Trejo in the Open. Ten points separated Jenkins from Trejo, who finished the Open in second place.
However, fans should soak in the spectacle while they can.
Jenkins, a former wrestler, triathlete and mixed-martial artist said his first year as an individual in his new region might also be his last.
“I have been competing in individual sports my entire life,” Jenkins, 31, said. “I have never been a member of a team, really, and if I compete again I would like to be able to share the experience with other people.”
The afternoon began with heavy load overhead.
The final heat of men had four former Olympic weightlifters, and it showed.
Orlando Trejo, Joel Bran, Rodrigo Valenzuela and Conor Murphy have all competed successfully on a national level in weightlifting, making the first individual event look more like an Olympic weightlifting meet than a CrossFit event.
However, the man who put up the best score wasn’t part of the main show. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa took the event in the second heat posting 255 lb.—20 lb. more than Trejo.
“I'm pretty excited because I was able to do what I was expecting,” said Vera Ochoa after the event. “I was able to lift 255 (lb.), so I'm pretty happy because of that.”
If you had asked anyone to bet, they would have put their money on Trejo, former member of Peru’s national weightlifting team.
Indeed, he had the stands screaming—only they were screams of frustration, not celebration—as Trejo failed to make his final two attempts.
Trejo opened at 235 lb. The weight was 30 lb. below his personal best, and he made it look like a warm-up. On the platform next to him, Jenkins put 195 lb. up for his first attempt.
After Trejo’s first attempt, he sat down on his bar, calmly dipping into the chalk and waiting out the clock. He tossed on 20 lb. more, deadlifted the bar, and pulled. He caught the bar, but his squat was crooked. Twisting to the right, he dropped the weight in the front.
The crowd screamed, willing Trejo to make his final attempt at 255 lb. In a rage and a fury, he exploded. The bar flew over his head and he fell to a knee.
Still, the two-time CrossFit Games competitor won’t be unsettled by a single event.
"I had problems with the bar,” he said. “But I am happy with my score anyway.”
Afterward, athletes had just two minutes to turn from weightlifter to gymnast, and Jenkins proved that his Open win was no fluke.
Though Trejo was the first to reach 100 feet, Jenkins was the first to finish 120. He made it halfway through his second run before Trejo took off again, 10 seconds later.
After finishing his second walk of 120 feet, Jenkins kicked off for another run with 30 seconds left on the clock. When the buzzer sounded, he’d logged 255 feet, for first place in Event 3.
He wore a wide grin as he tumbled into a forward roll and popped up to his feet.
Jenkins said he preferred the body-weight movement to the weightlifting event that preceded it.
“The hard part is over,” Jenkins said. “It is always fun to walk on your hands, so I had a good time with that.”
Event 1 Results
1. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa (255 lb.)
2. Joel Bran, Augusto Castro, Mark Desin, Connor Murphy (245 lb.)
3. Keith Kandetzke (240 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Leonidas Jenkins (255 ft)
2. Rodrigo Valenzuela (250 ft)
3. Alan Garcia (225 ft)
Resurrected nine years after the original triplet of air squats, muscle-ups and power cleans debuted on CrossFit.com in 2005, the Nasty Girls have been made over. Air squats are so last season; all the cool kids do them one-legged now.
And for once, a regional event featuring muscle-ups was not made on the rings. Event 3 was won, and lost, on the-one-legged squat.
Nobody struggled with the muscle-up in this event, and athletes who were efficient on the one-legged squat bought themselves time later on. Vera Ochoa and Alfredo Escobar volleyed the lead rep-for-rep in most of the second heat, but Escobar was the more machine-like of the two, taking the heat in 9:58.
“Giancarlo Vera was pushing me and I like that the most,” Escobar said. “But I was able to keep going.”
For most of the last heat it was the Trejo show.
From the stands, fans screamed his nickname: “Lando! Lando!”
Trejo was the first man to begin the second round of Nasty Girls, at 1:45, with Jenkins just a few reps behind.
But while Trejo pumped out one-legged squats like a machine gun, Jenkins earned three no-reps within his first 10 reps on the second round. He would never recover.
In the second round, Trejo traded the lead with Conor Murphy from Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas. Murphy was faster on the rings and the cleans. Trejo did two one-legged squats for every one of Murphy’s.
But Trejo broke his cleans in the second and third rounds into sets of five. The split-second break was just enough time for Mark Desin and Alan Garcia to slip past, the first two to reach the rings first for the final set of muscle-ups.
Trejo said the rest was what lost the event for him.
“I did five (cleans), but I should have done 10,” Trejo said. “Ten, no matter what happened.”
From then, it was Garcia and Desin who contested the lead. Garcia began the muscle-ups ahead of Desin, but when he dropped to shake out, Desin still flew.
After sprinting from the rig to his bar, Desin blasted out his final 10 hang power cleans unbroken. It looked as though he could feel pain no longer.
In a wild blur, Desin dropped the bar and pounced on the finish mat to win the event in 8:46, becoming the nastiest boy of Latin America.
Event 3 Results
1. Mark Desin (8:46)
2. Francisco Javier (8:50)
3. Tarcio Santos Ferreira (9:11)
After three events, two-time CrossFit Games competitor Trejo shares the lead with Puerto Rican competitor Emmanuel Maldonado of CrossFit SJU, each with 22 points. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa of Kallpa CrossFit in Ecuador brings up third place, with 25 points. Leonidas Jenkins sits in eleventh with 44 points.
So far, the king of Latin America is tied for the crown. To earn a three-peat Regional win, Trejo will have to prove that he can keep up with the rising level of fitness in Latin America.
1. Orlando Trejo (22)
2. Emmanuel Maldonado (22)
3. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa (25)
4. Conor Murphy (27)
5. Alan Garcia (33)
6. Francisco Javier (35)
7. Rodrigo Valenzuela (35)
8. Fernando Villafana (36)
9. Alvaro Lopez (37)
10. Mark Desin (40)
11. Leonidas Jenkins (44)
Latin America learned a new name in Events 1 and 2: Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza.
In her first individual regional appearance, the former gymnast won her first two events.
Her winning hang snatch at 150 lb. in the second heat was not only good enough for first place, but also a personal best.
She opened at 135 lb., putting the bar overhead with ease. At the two-minute mark, she paused to adjust her wrist wraps before hitting an easy 145 lb.
Before her final attempt at 150, Loaiza took her time. Bending over her bar, she took a few deep breaths before catching the weight as effortlessly as her opener, clapping as she released the bar.
"This was my first time using these bars and these plates, but I was relaxed because my hang snatch is pretty good,” she said. “I wanted to get a PR, so I calculated (the) weight in order to get there.”
In the following heat, Anita Pravatti also took home a PR at 140 lb.—good enough to tie for second place with Brenda Castro. Two minutes later, Pravatti also PR’d her handstand walk at 35 feet … from zero.
“I feel so happy because I couldn’t do a handstand walk last week,” Pravatti said.
However, Loaiza had no time to celebrate her hang snatch PR.
Instead, she kicked off her shoes and kicked into the air, sporting black tube socks with white toes. She made her first length of the floor so quickly you’d think she always walked on her feet.
After hitting 120 feet, she took a 10-second rest, taking off for another run at 1:36. Athletes tumbled all around her, and by the time she kicked up for her final attempt after crossing the 120-foot mark once more, she was the only competitor remaining.
After 30 feet, she buckled as the clock ran out. Neatly exiting the fall via a backward roll, she grinned as she stood and claimed her winning score of 160 feet.
“I trained in gymnastics for seven years, so this workout was one of my (better) skills,” Loaiza said. “I was able to do 160 feet, but at the end, my shoulders were pretty tired. Maybe I should have taken a rest at 100 feet, but I (felt) pretty good anyway."
Event 1 Results
1. Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza (150 lb.)
2. Wanda Brenton, Anita Pravatti (140 lb.)
3. Viana Mollinedo, Antonelli Nicole (135 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza (160 ft.)
2. Brenda Castro (85 ft.)
3. Marcela Fernanda Rozo (75 ft.)
Wandon Brenton, the Open winner in Latin America for the second year running, makes her debut as an individual this year after helping team CrossFit 7 Mile win the regional in 2012 and 2013.
“I feel good going into the regional,” Brenton said before the completion began. “It is my first time competing as an individual and it's really exciting for me for sure. I've worked hard all year and feel like I'm prepared.”
In Event 3, she proved she has what it takes, taking her first event win with a time of 10:23.
While the men struggled with pistols during Nasty Girls V2, the breaking point for the women was the muscle-up. Only six women among during all three heats finished within the 16-minute time cap.
In the first heat, only two women advanced beyond the second round, and spectators grew distracted as the athletes earned no-rep after no-rep.
But after “3, 2, 1 … go!” of the final heat, the audience woke up. These athletes erupted in a blaze of rapid-fire one-legged squats, and not a single woman faltered on the first set of muscle-ups.
One woman stood above the rest for most of the final heat: Antonelli Nicole, of CrossFit Brasil. She sprang up and down on the one-legged squats like the floor was made of rubber, completing her first round almost entirely unbroken.
But like a fire built on kindling, she faltered in the third round.
“I (got) tired,” Nicole said. “I lost my breath during the muscle-ups and the same thing for the cleans.”
Though still in the lead at 6:28, her one-legged squats, once mechanical and imposing, became shaky. Taking several no-reps, by the time she reached the rings for her final set of muscle-ups, Brenton had caught up.
Brenton and Nicole traded work and rest, one attempting a rep while the other chalked up. But when Nicole struggled to press out of the dip on her fifth rep, Brenton broke away.
Brenton sprinted to her bar and repped out her final 10 hang power cleans in an unbroken set.
Arms raised to the shrieking crowd, she stepped on her mat. While Nicole broke her final set of cleans in two, Marilyn Rojas snuck into second place with a time of 11:50. The third place belonged to Christine Knieff, who won the second heat with a time of 12:12.
Event 3 Results
1. Wanda Brenton (10:23)
2. Marilyn Rojas (11:50)
3. Christine Knieff (12:12)
At the end of Day 1, Loaiza of Distrito CrossFit in Mexico leads the women with a mere eight points, followed by Brenton with 11 points. Ecuadorian Knieff, of CrossFit Quito, is in third place with 14 points.
The first three events challenged athletes’ strength, skill and strategy, bringing new names to the top of the Leaderboard and to the attention of the region.
There are plenty more points to be gained in Latin America.
1. Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza (8)
2. Wanda Brenton (11)
3. Christine Knieff (14)
4. Antonelli Nicole (15)
5. Brenda Castro (19)
6. Anita Pravatti (19)
7. Marcela Fernanda Rozo (21)
8. Marylin Rojas (26)
9. Nega Ibarra (27)
10. Maya Byrd (34)