Mississippi has a lot of cultural cache. This southern state has given us the Mississippi delta blues, literary treasures such as William Faulkner and Eudora Welty, and, of course, football great Brett Favre. But it’s probably the last state that would come to mind if you were thinking about fitness.
Mississippi may be the fattest state in the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fitness wasteland. In 2011, three Mississippians competed as individuals at the CrossFit South Central Regionals in the sweltering Texas heat.
One of them was Hunter Owen of Mississippi CrossFit in Jackson, Miss. The 26-year-old former college baseball player has high hopes for the 2012 competition season and may prove a dark horse in the region. Here, Owen reflects in his experience in 2011 and how he is preparing for 2012.
What’s your athletic background?
I played football, soccer, and baseball in high school. I played baseball for five years in college at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. After that, I played two years of professional independent baseball in the United and Frontier leagues.
What’s your day job?
I am a Freight Manager at Advanced Drainage Systems in Jackson. I have had this position since December 2010. I also coach classes at Mississippi CrossFit, when I have time.
Describe your preparation for the 2011 competition season.
Last year was my first year of CrossFit, and I felt that I was pretty far behind everyone else. With that in mind, I tried to do as many WODs as possible. I trained as many days in a row as I could before I took a rest day, sometimes 10 or more. I did some strength training, but for the most part it was all met-cons. This worked well as far as conditioning went, but I did not get much stronger, and I started to wear down.
Will you describe your 2011 competition experience?
I went into the 2011 Open qualifiers with the goal of making it to Regionals. I had never done a CrossFit competition and didn’t really know how I would stack up, but I knew that going to Regionals would be a great experience. I came in 24th in the Open for the South Central Region, which I was happy with. The weekend of Regionals was very tough, but it was very fun and I came away with a much better idea of what I needed to work on.
Growing up playing baseball, I had always been told never to lift overhead. Therefore, my overhead strength was by far my weakest area of CrossFit. This really hurt me in the first two workouts, and I was near the bottom after Day 1. I did much better on Day 2 and was able to pull myself up to finish in 28th, which I was very happy with, considering how poorly I did on the first two workouts.
By far, the hardest workout was the 100s workout. Much has been said about how hot it was at the South Central Regional, so I will just say that it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Overall, the competition was very rewarding and it was great being around so many great CrossFit athletes. I learned a great deal and came away with a much better idea of what I needed to do to get better.
What’s your preparation going to be like going into the 2012 competition season?
This year I feel that I have a much better idea of what I need to be doing. I have been doing a three on, one off, two on, one off schedule with a much bigger focus on strength training. My sessions are much longer than they used to be because of the strength work, but I am training fewer days a week. This has been working very well so far, and I have been making some big gains.
I plan on keeping this approach until January, when I will start doing two training sessions a day a couple of times a week. The second session will most likely be an interval type row, run, or swim. I will probably stick with this approach up until Regionals.
What are your goals for the upcoming competition season?
My only real goal is to make it to the CrossFit Games in 2012. I have set some goals as far as numbers go for where I want to be by the time the Open starts, but these are all with qualifying for the Games in mind.
What does CrossFit mean to you?
CrossFit has really changed my life. It has greatly altered my lifestyle, and has given me an avenue to still pursue my athletic career. Being a professional baseball player was all that I ever wanted to do, and now that that part of my life is over, CrossFit has filled the competitive void.
I honestly do not know what I would be doing right now without CrossFit, which is strange to say since I have only been doing it a little over a year. It gives me something to look forward to every day after work, and the progress that I see is greatly fulfilling. I love CrossFit and can’t imagine doing anything else.
What should the CrossFit community at large know about CrossFit in Mississippi?
Mississippi is behind most of the rest of the country as far as the growth of CrossFit, but it is growing very quickly. More and more people are starting to ask me about it, and I think that it is only a matter a time before Mississippi is right up there with the rest of the country (relatively), in both amount of affiliates and quality athletes.
One thing that makes the CrossFit experience in Mississippi distinctive is the closeness everyone has with each other. There aren’t too many boxes, but we all know each other fairly well and support each other fully. It is a neat thing to be a part of, and something that I think a lot of the larger areas with tons of boxes might be missing out on.
Hunter’s CrossFit Stats
Weight: 200 pounds
Filthy Fifty: 21:24
Fight Gone Bad: 448
400 m run: 58 seconds
800 m run: 2:15
Max Clean and Jerk: 275 pounds
Max Snatch: 215 pounds
Max consecutive pull-ups: 50
Max Back Squat: 400 pounds
Max Front Squat: 335 pounds
Max Deadlift: 505 pounds
Max Overhead Squat: 265 pounds