Strategy paid off for CrossFit Explode, CrossFit Syndicate and Rising Orange in the Mid Atlantic team competition.
A year ago, Brad Weiss and Luke Espe of CrossFit Syndicate knew they would be in this position. They sat in the stands at last year’s Mid Atlantic Regional and contemplated their strategy for taking a team to the next level.
Strategy is defined as the ability to put a plan of action into effect in order to achieve a major goal. The final questions of the weekend remained: Which strategy will the teams use? Will it help the team maintain control and secure a podium finish?
Heading into the final day of team competition, the strategy was to maintain focus, perform the movements as practiced and communicate to the fullest extent.
Members of CrossFit Syndicate came into Day 3 with the hope of maintaining their position on the Leaderboard and a solid placement on the podium.
“We have a plan,” Weiss said. “We’re going to do better at running our own race this time. So for (Event 7), we plan to be a little more strategic than (Event 8). (Event 7), more than anything, is about communication. (Event 8) is just kind of a ‘go’ workout.”
Espe agreed: “Today’s huge. Everybody has their points they are very good at. We are going to try to put the people in the place that they can thrive as much as possible and just go for it.”
Weiss was especially excited about the team’s current placement.
“We know it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be up to us to go get it,” he said.
With one point standing between Syndicate and Rising Orange, the final two events could cause a serious disturbance in the Leaderboard.
The teams needed to secure their grip for the second to last event of this weekend.
In the first heat of the co-ed partner event, several team members lost grip on the pull-up bar and lost wind as they ended up at the floor of the competition rig.
At this point in the weekend, the top teams have made every attempt to maintain their position or advance on the Leaderboard.
As athletes moved across the floor, the event appeared chaotic. However, it was anything but. This is what elite CrossFit competitors do, this is their element, and the events of Day 3 are the culmination of their entire season.
Different strategies worked for different teams.
“We put our strongest rowers up front knowing the last two didn’t have to row super hard,” Weiss said. “Jimmy (Violand) and I are faster so we rowed the hardest along with the two girls and let our highest skilled athletes go last so they didn’t have to worry about the row.”
Rising Orange—sitting in third overall with a fourth-place finish on Event 7—took an alternate approach.
Knowing the row could be the most important station Ryan Boswell recounted, “We sent our slowest partners first and tried to bust it on the row so they could move out of the way.”
Maintaining solid and consistent rhythm in this event meant every second counted and technicalities would make the difference in placing on the podium.
CrossFit Greensboro A-team was second on the Leaderboard going into the event. They dropped two places after a disappointing 19th-place finish.
“We were doing fine and things were going well until our last guy got to the toes-to-bars,” Cameron Williams said. “They kept getting no-repped because he’s tall and couldn’t get his feet behind the bar. It was heartbreaking to stand on the finish mat and watch it.”
Knowing the order of the athletes and strategic partnership would have a huge impact on the event outcome and overall standings leading into Event 8, CrossFit Explode expected to take first place. They ended up second.
“There are some hungry teams out there,” Cody Loeffler said. “It’s a great fight out there and we are going to battle for this last one. Hopefully we can squeeze out another win in the end.”
Brian Quinlan agreed: “We are here to do work, finish up strong. That’s what we came to do.”
CrossFit Syndicate took first place in the event with a time of 15:20 as the crowd roared while the team jumped for joy on the mat. They beat CrossFit Explode maintaining a mere nine-second lead, shifting them to second place overall.
“We are really happy with the way we performed and it puts us in a good place for the last workout,” Weiss said.
Team Event 7 Results
1. CrossFit Syndicate (15:20)
2. CrossFit Explode (15:29)
3. Forward (15:55)
Today’s objective: Make it to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
The first wave of men in the final heat of Event 8 set the tone and pace for the rest of the competitors. Butterfly pull-ups were the preferred method of movement because of their speed and fluidity.
CrossFit Unrivaled and CrossFit Forward were the first two teams with men moving onto the overhead squats. Following closely behind, the first male athlete from CrossFit Wilmington ran to pick up his bar.
It was clear that all teams had their eye on a top finish in this event for their last chance at reaching the podium.
The leader going into the final event, CrossFit Explode, had their first female athlete reach the stop mat before all other teams. College Hill CrossFit, in an attempt to make up for a disappointing finish in Event 5, watched eagerly as their first female athlete complete her overhead squats and rushed to the mat
In a surprising turn of events, Rising Orange’s first female athlete struggled to complete her overhead squats. As soon as she finished, their second male quickly closed the gap between Rising Orange and Explode.
CrossFit Greensboro A-team started to make their move, coming forward from the middle of the pack. Greensboro needed a win in this event to make up for a less than stellar performance in Event 7.
Rising Orange and Greensboro took advantage of an opportunity when Explode began to lose their momentum.
Greensboro was the first team to put their last female athlete on the floor. Lorraine Castle was the anchor for Rising Orange, completing incredibly quick and efficient butterfly pull-ups. She jumped off of the rig just ahead of Greensboro’s Cameron Williams.
Williams switched from butterfly to kipping pull-ups for her last few reps and rushed to her bar to start the overhead squats.
Castle had completed six out of seven overhead squats before Williams even picked up her barbell. Simultaneously, each lowered for an overhead squat and then rose. As soon as Castle reached the top of her squat, she lost her grip and dropped her bar resulting in a no-rep. The crowd screamed out of pure terror for the inevitable.
“I was just like ‘Get the bar back up there, hit it and get to your teammates,’” Castle said.
Williams rushed to complete her remaining overhead squats before Castle could finish her final repetition. Destroying all seven overhead squats unbroken, Williams ran to the finish mat to an ecstatic team.
After Greensboro A-team finished with a time of 12:27, Castle was able to complete her last overhead squat to make Rising Orange’s final time 12:57.
Explode was able to get all of their athletes across for a fourth-place finish with a time of 13:11. This was enough to secure their first-place finish overall and their third consecutive trip to the CrossFit Games.
Team Event 8 Results
1. CrossFit Greensboro A-team (12:27)
2. RAW Training (12:36)
3. Rising Orange (12:57)
Team strategy and communication was the determining factor in today’s final team events and it paid off for Explode, Syndicate and Rising Orange.
Espe, of CrossFit Syndicate, is “kind of overwhelmed right now.”
“We didn’t come in here expecting not to go the Games,” Espe said, “but now that it’s happened we are sort of shocked. I haven’t even gotten to see my parents yet. I saw them up in the stands freaking out. I can’t wait to see them and celebrate.”
In its third consecutive trip to the Games, Explode had a top-five finish in all events and they are thankful for the opportunity.
“It means a lot. It means we are doing the right things,” Quinlan said. “We keep getting better every year, which is really good. We are really pumped—really pumped to be going back to the Games. We’re gonna get together tonight and have milkshakes.”
Team Overall Standings
1. CrossFit Explode (19)
2. CrossFit Syndicate (40)
3. Rising Orange (41)