The Mid Atlantic Regional has returned to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia for the first time since 2011.
Located on the edge of campus, The Patriot Center will be home to the regional for the next three days. The arena can seat up to 10,000 spectators and typically hosts anything from Mason basketball games to concerts and family events.
Team is the name of the game for the first three events of the day. Putting together a solid, regional-ready team is not always an easy task. Paul Buono, of CrossFit Center City, competed as an individual last year and had shoulder surgery 10 months ago today. Knowing his shoulder may not hold up as an individual competitor he helped assemble a team that could prove very powerful this weekend.
“Everyone thinks if you can put together six individuals you can be a good team,” Buono said. “Not the story. You have to balance each other’s emotions and feelings. You have to balance when they feel good and don’t feel good. I think a lot more goes into being a team than an individual, and it’s a pretty cool opportunity to get to bring some new people for that experience.”
As the crowd counted down with, “3, 2, 1 … go!” athletes began chipping away at the muscle-up and clean and jerk combination. The event has the potential to put a strain on shoulder endurance and team communication is a critical component for success.
The final heat of the event began fast and stayed fast throughout. Interestingly enough, the overall winners, CrossFit Syndicate, slid under the radar for most of their heat but this may have been part of their strategy. Falling sixth coming out of the 2014 Open, they completed the workout in 8:18, just edging out Rising Orange by a mere nine seconds.
Brad Weiss, a member of CrossFit Syndicate, said things went as planned.
“We put our best guys first with bigger sets,” he said. “We just tried to pick stuff we wouldn’t fail at and keep it at eighty-percent capacity and keep moving through. We ended up executing it as we hoped.”
His teammate, Rebecca Koch, added to the team’s win by using the crowd’s enthusiasm to fuel her through her set of clean and jerks.
“I was like everyone’s screaming so I’m going to hang onto the bar and go, “she said. “I just focused on doing the set unbroken.”
Coming in a close second in the third heat, with a time of 8:27, Rising Orange initially had the first athlete to the mat and maintained a solid pace throughout the entire workout. However, in the final set of muscle-ups, Emily Breeze Ross struggled with her last few repetitions.
Reflecting on her performance, she was thankful for her team’s encouragement during the event.
“I’ve been working on getting high hips on my muscle-ups the past couple of months and my teammates have really been helping me with that,” she said. “I just wanted to get them done and get to the clean and jerks. I couldn’t hear the commentator talking about how close it was, but I could see the expressions on my teammates and I knew it was close and I just wanted to do well for them.”
With CrossFit Games veteran Michelle Crawford leading the way, team Rising Orange is hoping to make its way to a podium position, but it will all come down to the best team’s effort.
“Let me set the record straight: I’m not bringing them to California with me, they are bringing me with them this weekend,” Crawford said. “This is an absolute total team effort. Yeah, I have Games experience but being with these guys on a team keeps me sane. It keeps me mentally strong and physically strong. I’m sort of the captain of the team because I’m the oldest, but we’re a team through and through and we work really well together.”
CrossFit Unrivaled finished first in its heat with a time of 8:25 and currently sit in second place overall. The surprising finish leaves the team hesitantly hopeful for the remainder of the weekend.
Jaquelyn Kastelic, member of CrossFit Unrivaled, said, “We’re really just trying to do our best, we really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Team Event 1 Results
1. CrossFit Syndicate (8:18)
2. CrossFit Unrivaled (8:25)
3. Rising Orange (8:27)
Going into the second event, the Mid Atlantic team athletes looked ready to be finished for the day. Knowing that any small increase in the hang squat snatch or failed handstand walks could impact the Leaderboard, the pressure grew with each heat.
This is not the first time CrossFit Explode has tested its team strategies. They have consistently sent a team to regionals and the CrossFit Games so they know the importance of catering to team strengths and weaknesses.
“I think fortunately for us as a team we have some really strong girls so that wasn’t really a question mark. It was just really about where people were going to open up, “ team member Cody Loeffler said.
“In terms of our guys we all are relatively similar with the hang squat snatch, so again it was smart but time effective for us to open up at 225 lb., so we didn’t have to change weights and made it a little bit faster and more routine,” he continued. “Like we’ve done with some of the lifting workouts in the past, you get a probable and a possible and you attack the probable and knock it down.”
Emily Pale, of Explode, loves to lift heavy weights and considers movements like the squat snatch one of her favorites. But missing her first attempt was “nerve racking” for her self-esteem.
“You know most of the time in training we’ll have a three by three and I’ll end up maxing out or something,” Pale said. “ It’s something I’m really comfortable with and putting that weight overhead so opening up with 155 lb. it’s a number that I’ve strung three hang squat snatches together. In the end, I was like, ‘Great, you’ve got one more chance so don’t mess it up.”
Transitioning to the handstand walk proved little relief from the pressure to perform. Many teams were already prepared with shoes removed and paraphilia in hand as they headed down the floor to test their gymnastics skills.
With a frustrating finish for most teams, the handstand walk was a rough way to end the day. One team, CrossFit Forward used every final ounce of strength to finish first in the final event of the day.
Team Event 2 Results
1. CrossFit Explode (1130.00)
2. CrossFit Greensboro A-team (1105.00)
3. CFWC Snatches and Jerks (1090.00)
Team Event 3 Results
1. CrossFit Forward (585 feet)
2. CrossFit Explode (555 feet)
3. CrossFit Woodbridge (485 feet)
After three events today’s fitness endeavors have proven that placement at the Mid Atlantic Regional is constantly varied and always unpredictable. Hovering at the top of the Leaderboard, CrossFit Explode has used its competitive experience to show their team strengths
1. CrossFit Explode
2. CrossFit Forward
3. CrossFit Syndicate
4. College Hill CrossFit
5. CrossFit Greensboro A-team
6. Hardbat CrossFit
7. CFWC Snatches and Jerks
8. Rising Orange
9. Shenandoah CrossFit
10. CrossFit Unrivaled