There have been a few tremors in Chicago.
While the Windy City is far from any fault line, the shifts on the North Central Leaderboard can be felt throughout the region.
Five-time CrossFit Games competitor Stacie Tovar sits in ninth place at the end of the second day of competition, 17 points outside of third place. With only two events remaining tomorrow, she will need to put in exceptional performances--and see a couple unfortunate performances by the women ahead of her on the Leaderboard--to close the gap and return to Carson, Calif.
Tovar isn’t the only one in an unusual place. Two-time North Central Regional champion Elisabeth Akinwale sits in second place entering the final day of competition. She’s sandwiched between two new names in the women’s competition, Alexandra LaChance and Katelyn Busacker.
With two event wins, Kasperbauer climbed from fifth place overall to the lead, while Alex Nettey dropped to third. The 18th-ranked man at the 2013 North Central Regional, Jacob Heppner, is tied in the point totals with Kasperbauer but sits in second place overall after the tiebreak.
The triplet of strict handstand push-ups, 125-lb. front squats and bar-facing burpees seemed to favor the smaller athletes.
In the first heat, 4-foot 11-inch tall competitor Megan John finished the work in just 12:02. John was able to pull away from the others with quick rounds of strict handstand push-ups. While most of the other women struggled, doing singles, John strung together several reps in a row.
Five-foot 2-inch tall competitor Kelley Jackson finished the work faster than John to take the event win with a time of 11:17.
Jackson said the key to her success in Event 4 was executing her strategy of pacing herself on the handstand push-ups. She practiced it prior to the regional and consistently finished in the 11-minute range, she said.
“I have a tendency to have a plan and then get out there and just go. And that cost me last night in Nasty Girls (V2),” Jackson said. “First time in four years I think I’ve stuck to my game plan, so I’m happy with that. You never know how you’re going to do when you get out there against the girls.”
The only exception to the rule in the Top 3 was 5-foot 5-inch Stacie Tovar. After a rough start to the weekend, Tovar earned a third place finish on Event 4 with a time of 12:32.
The first- and third-ranked women in the overall standings, LaChance and Busacker, rounded out the top 5 on Event 4.
Akinwale was slow but steady. Finishing in 16:47, she dropped to 11th place on the event.
Event 4 Results
1. Kelley Jackson (11:17)
2. Megan John (12:02)
3. Stacie Tovar (12:33)
4. Alexandra LaChance (12:41)
5. Katelyn Busacker (12:55)
The legless rope climbs were a merciless test of upper-body and grip strength. Ten rounds of legless rope climbs and 200-foot sprints proved too much for many of the competitors.
But not Akinwale.
“I’m really excited for a sprint,” Akinwale said before Event 5.
She wasn’t joking. Akinwale maintained a fast pace through the 10 rounds of sprints and legless rope climbs.
After an event that favored short competitors, Akinwale took full advantage of her 5-foot 7-inch frame on an event that favored height.
“I try and use as much hips as possible with a nice long reach,” Akinwale said. “My six-foot wing span worked against me this morning with the handstand push-ups, so I tried to take advantage of my long reach with the rope climbs.”
Akinwale finished the work in 6:12, to take the event win. LaChance, Dresher, and Busacker moments before the clock ticked over to 7 minutes, just seconds apart.
Tovar’s jovial mood was gone after Event 5, where she was unable to complete her final rope climb. She ended up in a tie for 10th, and she left the floor visibly upset.
Event 5 Results
1. Elisabeth Akinwale (6:12)
2. Alexandra LaChance (6:55)
3. Grace Dresher (6:56)
4. Katelyn Busacker (6:59)
5. Mallory Lawson (8:25)
Alexandra LaChance of CrossFit Gambit in St. Louis, Missouri hung on to the overall lead with two more solid performances on Day 2. She placed fourth in Event 4 and second in Event 5, giving her a 10-point lead over Elisabeth Akinwale of CrossFit Construct in Chicago going into the final day. Katelyn Busacker, who also trains at CrossFit Omaha, continues her surprising run at the North Central Regionals and sits in third place, only three points behind Akinwale.
LaChance said she’s sticking to her game plan and not getting caught up with what the other athletes are doing.
“It’s just funny to me. I mean, it’s not what I expected at all,” LaChance said. “I’m honestly like praying the whole time. That’s really the only thing that calms my heart down. I’m really just focused on breathing. The stuff here is not anything new, I mean we’ve all done this before. I mean, I just have to trust in myself, trust in my training.”
LaChance admitted to some nerves going into Day 3, but she’s focused on remaining calm and soaking it all in.
“This year, I just wanted to get the experience,” LaChance said. “I’m still figuring out nutrition, ... I’m nervous and don’t want to eat. I’ve been choking down baby food between events, but that’s about it.”
1. Alexandra LaChance (16)
2. Elisabeth Akinwale (26)
3. Katelyn Busacker (29)
4. Grace Dresher (35)
5. Jessica Schulz (39)
6. Kelley Jackson (40)
7. Mallory Lawson (42)
8. Michele Weissenhofer (45)
9. Stacie Tovar (46)
10. Kady Sackett (48)
In Event 4, Kasperbauer finished 92 seconds faster than Heppner with a time of 10:14, currently the event record. It was a wire-to-wire win for Kasperbauer, who completed the event before Heppner had even started his final round. Going into Event 4, 54 total reps of strict handstand push-ups, 195 lb. front squats and burpees, Kasperbauer knew he’d do well based on his strengths.
“My thought when I saw the strict (handstand push-ups) was, ‘It’s about damn time.’ They shouldn’t have kipping handstand-push-ups anymore at the elite level,” he said. “Strict movements are always safer anyway, but they’re harder, so they expose weaknesses, so I liked it.”
In yet another example of CrossFit’s community-first philosophy, he and Heppner walked up and down the competition floor after they finished, offering encouragement to the athletes who were chasing them in the standings.
Event 4 Results
1. Kyle Kasperbauer (10:14)
2. Jacob Heppner (11:46)
3. Justin Allen (11:57)
4. Andrew Wissmann (12:00)
5. Brandon Pastorek (12:01)
Event 5 was quick but not short on excitement. The 10 rounds of legless rope climbs and 200-foot sprints showed which athletes had superior pulling power and grip. Once again, Kasperbauer dominated.
He was able to maintain his pace while others faded. But it wasn’t easy.
“I was thinking dig deep,” he said. “I was getting into the muscle fatigue and the pain cave, that ‘dark’ area. I’ve got to win. I’ve got to get to Carson. No exceptions.”
Some of the biggest cheers of the day were reserved for athletes who aren’t near the top of the Leaderboard.
Kenny Brown of Power Cat CrossFit in Manhattan, Kansas continued to be a crowd favorite on Day 2. Brown, who has a titanium rod holding together two broken bones in his leg, struggled with the front squats in Event 4. But he excelled in Event 5, where he finished first in his heat with a time of 4:15.
In Event 4, newcomer Roderick Holloway of CrossFit Kirkwood in Kirkwood, Missouri struggled on his last 195 lb. front squat, falling a half-dozen times as he struggled to lift the weight. Cheered on by both the sell-out crowd and his fellow heat competitors, he finally completed his last front squat, powered through the final three burpees and stepped on his finish mat to an eruption of applause. The medical team sat with him following the event, but he was fine and competed in Event 5.
1. Kyle Kasperbauer (32)
2. Jacob Heppner (32)
3. Alex Nettey (35)
4. Justin Allen (47)
5. Brandon Pastorek (54)
6. Jared Stevens (58)
7. Michael Bodi (58)
8. Dre Strohm (69)
9. Marshall Creed (70)
10. Zak Carchedi (71)
The men’s events provided thrilling moments as well as Day 2 ended with a new overall leader in a tight race for the top spot. Kyle Kasperbauer sits in first, trailed closely by Jacob Heppner and Alex Nettey. Although Kasperbauer and Heppner both have 32 points, Kasperbauer won the tiebreak (1st, 1st, 2nd, 7th vs. 1st, 1st, 2nd, 9th).
Kasperbauer moved from fifth to first after Events 4 and 5 by virtue of two first-place finishes as he sets his sights on a return trip to the CrossFit Games. He said he felt good coming into the regional and feels comfortable going into Day 3 based on his training and strategy.
“You need to know your body,” he said. “Anybody can workout all day. You need to know your strengths, what you are weak on, what you need to work on, and continuing to focus on that all day, everyday.”
After Day 2, CrossFit Kilo of Cedar Falls, Iowa remained at the top of the leaderboard despite being chased by CrossFit Green Bay of Wisconsin. CrossFit T-Town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Team CrossFit North Peoria of Illinois and Timerbwolf CrossFit of St. Paul, Minnesota ended the day in a three-way tie for third place. It's still any team's game as only nine points separates first place from third.
1. CrossFit T-Town (9:03)
2. CrossFit 417 (9:20)
3. Team CrossFit North Peoria (9:28)
1. CrossFit Kilo (7:40)
2. The Gym (7:42)
3. Timberwolf CrossFit (7:48)
1. CrossFit Green Bay (16:20)
2. On Track (19:40)
3. Team CrossFit North Peoria (19:53)
1. CrossFit Kilo (31)
2. CrossFit Green Bay (33)
3. CrossFit T-Town (40)
4. Team CrossFit North Peoria (40)
5. Timberwolf CrossFit (40)
6. CrossFit St. Louis (42)
7. Quad City CrossFit (48)
8. CrossFit 417 (54)
9. 540 Beefy (57)
10. CrossFit St. Paul (62)