The final heat of teams had taken the competition floor, and moved through double-unders, handstand push-ups, and toes-to-bar of Event 6 when suddenly the power went out.
The head judge, Chuck Carswell, ran down the lanes yelling, “Keep going!”
The judges kept the official time on their stopwatches, unaffected by the power outage. In the dim natural light, the teams pressed on through shoulder-to-overheads and weighted walking lunges.
Although the music had gone quiet, the crowds were raucous.
“It was awesome, man, when the lights went out. To hear the crowd in lieu of the music just brought the whole event to a new level,” Amanda Welliver of CrossFit Wilmington said.
Brian Quinlan of CrossFit Explode agreed.
“When the lights went out, we were on ...The crowd was awesome, it was great to hear everyone yelling,” Quinlan said.
Later, the women took the floor despite the darkness. The lights flickered during the second women’s heat, only to go off again. Now, the power seems to be on for good.
In the second heat, Mountaineer CrossFit set the time to beat at 10:55. Only two teams in later heats would do better.
“When it came down to it if anything got off rhythm or what not we just played it by ear made a decision and went. It was really great teamwork that pulled it out. That’s what the team is for, to help pick me up when I’m struggling,” Jason Phillips of Mountaineer CrossFit said.
CrossFit Love was the first under the wall to start the handstand push-ups. CrossFit Love kept the lead through the toes-to-bar and were also the first to the axle for shoulder-to-overheads. The next closest team, CrossFit Reston, joined CrossFit Love at the shoulder-to-overheads roughly 30 seconds later.
The power went out, but it wasn’t stopping the teams.
CrossFit Explode “poured it on” during the shoulder-to-overheads, and made the weight look light. CrossFit Love lost their lead as the no reps piled up.
“We had a few no reps called in the shoulder-to-overheads,” Christine Karsprzak said.
On the walking lunge, CrossFit Wilmington momentarily pulled into the lead ahead of CrossFit Explode. When Wilmington stopped to rest, Explode continued to lunge to the finish mat. Explode sealed first in 9:49 and Wilmington joined them on the finish mat four seconds later for second.
Even with the power outage, Event 6 went according to CrossFit Explode’s plan.
“We executed the game plan that we had and … we feel awesome,” Quinlan said.
With the Event 6 win, CrossFit Explode sits in first overall with an 11 point lead over second-ranked team RAW Training.
“This is the turning point where I feel a little safe now. I feel like we have a little bit of a cushion,” Quinlan said.
After Event 6, CrossFit Wilmington and CrossFit Reston swapped places on the overall Leaderboard. Entering the final Event, Wilmington is in third with 36 points and Reston is in fourth with 39 points. A three-point lead may be easily lost in a single Event, and it will surely be a battle to the end between these two teams.
1. CrossFit Explode (9:49)
2. CrossFit Wilmington (9:53)
3. Mountaineer CrossFit (10:55)
1. CrossFit Explode (13)
2. RAW Training (24)
3. CrossFit Wilmington (36)
4. CrossFit Reston (39)
5. CrossFit Woodbridge (45)
6. Team CrossFit Love (47)
To punish any competitor who can’t work while their heart thumps in their chest, Event 6 starts with 100 double-unders and then continues on to 50 handstand push-ups, 40 toes-to-bar, 30 shoulder to overhead with a 100-lb. axle, and a 90-foot walking lunge with the axle in the front rack.
Games veterans Christy Phillips and Gretchen Kittelberger took all 100 double-unders in one unbroken set. Moving in a pack under the plexiglass, Phillips, Kittelberger, and Dara Ching were the first to start the handstand push-ups.
Ching got ahead on the handstand push-ups, and was the first to the toes-to-bar. Phillips followed roughly 20 seconds later.
“Dara snuck up on me, she’s been doing that all weekend. I compete against her all the time,” Phillips said after the Event. “She’s having her best Regionals ever so that’s really cool.”
Although Phillips gave chase, Ching maintained her lead. In fact, she expanded it as she worked through the shoulder-to-overheads. She completed the walking lunges before another competitor even started them.
“I just thought, don’t put the bar down. I knew that if I had a good lead on the overheads that I could just push through on the bar, so in my head I was like, ‘Don’t put the bar down, don’t put the bar down. You can’t put it down,” Ching said.
Right before Ching crossed the line, the power went out for a second time. She continued unfazed to take the win in 9:18.
In the dark, Kittelberger, Phillips, and Helmick fought to be the next woman to the finishing pad. Phillips made it in second (10:35).
“I actually felt really confident halfway through the handstand push-ups cause I’m not super fast on them, I have to pace, and when I realized that everyone around me was doing that same thing or managing it to get through the 50,” Phillips said. “I was like, ‘I’m good cause this is the part where I’m supposed to be behind on,’ and I knew I could catch up … that mentality just carried me through the rest of the way.”
Alea Helmick and Kittelberger fought for third while working through the 90-foot weighted walking lunge. As Kittelberger rested, Helmick got ahead and her fans went wild. But a short distance from the finish line, Helmick dropped the axle. This time, it was Kittelberger’s chance to steal the lead. Kittelberger crossed the line, dropped the axle, and quickly stepped on the finish mat for third (11:03). Ten seconds later, Helmick took fourth (11:13).
Event 6 didn’t change the top three women, but the point totals have shifted. Entering the final Event, Helmick is five points away from third-ranked Michelle Crawford. Bronze is far from locked into place.
1. Dara Ching (9:18)
2. Christy Phillips (10:35)
3. Gretchen Kittelberger (11:03)
1. Christy Phillips (20)
2. Gretchen Kittelberger (27)
3. Michelle Crawford (34)
4. Alea Helmick (39)
5. Dara Ching (50)
In the final heat, almost all of the men finished the 100 double-unders and slid under the plexiglass wall at the same time.
David Borelli was the first through the 50 handstand push-ups and on to the 40 toes-to-bar, but the margin was small. By the 165-pound shoulder-to-overheads, Jordan Troyan was in the lead with Ben Smith close behind.
Midway through the 30 shoulder-to-overheads Smith passed Troyan. In the earlier heats, men had rested at this point but Smith kept going.
Smith passed Troyan right before the halfway mark, where most athletes stopped to rest. The crowds waited for Smith to drop the axle, but he didn’t. The closer he got to the finish without stopping, the louder the crowd cheered.
Smith shouldered the axle, and started lunging down the competition floor. He reached the midway point without dropping the axle, and it became clear that he had no intention to drop it. As the fans cheered, Smith picked up the pace and made it obvious that he neither wanted to stop or needed to.
After taking all of the walking lunges unbroken, Smith stepped onto the finish mat at nine minutes flat.
“I thought about it. I thought about dropping it halfway, then I was halfway, and I said I might as well go all the way,” Smith said after the Event. “(The crowd) might have made the decision for me.”
Twenty six seconds later, Troyan stepped on the finish mat to seal second.
Once the leaders finished, the crowd watched the competitors who were getting punished by the second to last Event.
Second and third-ranked competitors, Kyle Ruth and Gary Helmick, tanked on Event 6. Helmick was one of the last to finish, crossing the line and stepping on the mat at 13:34. With a 17th place finish, he could have easily dropped out of the qualifying spot if it weren’t for Ruth. Ruth finished the heat in dead last (14:55), and swallowed 27 points.
When asked what went wrong Ruth said, “Everything. From start to finish.”
In one Event, Ruth dropped from a comfortable second to the incredibly uncomfortable fourth. Ruth has the same number of points as Games veteran Nate Schrader (58), and will have to close the two-point gap between himself and Troyan (third overall, 56) or reach further and close the 10-point gap to second-ranked Helmick.
1. Ben Smith (9:00)
2. Jordan Troyan (9:26)
3. Casey Haines (10:31)
1. Ben Smith (16)
2. Gary Helmick (48)
3. Jordan Troyan (56)
4. Kyle Ruth (58)
5. Nate Schrader (58)
6. Steve Pinkerton (63)