Entering the final event of the 2013 Southern California Regional, Josh Bridges and Kenny Leverich had a firm grip on gold and silver, while Tommy Pease cautiously grasped bronze.
Wes Piatt’s point total was so close to Pease’s, their performances on the last event could easily shift the standings.
“I went into the last workout knowing that Wes was close with me in points. I knew that I had to stick with the top two guys, Bridges and Leverich,” Pease said.
It didn’t start off well for Piatt.
He couldn’t get his foot wrapped around the rope, so he dropped back to the ground to collect himself and begin his climb again. By the time Piatt was back on the rope to start the event, every other competitor had finished their first climb.
Piatt soon made up for lost time. He caught up in the second round, passing Leverich and Wayne Willette. The 225-lb. squat cleans, which slowed down many of the men, posed no problem for Piatt. He worked steadily and took over the second spot behind Bridges with a time of 4:29.
Meanwhile, Pease slowed down on the final four cleans, and was passed by Ryan Fischer and Willette. Pease tied for ninth place on the event, which put his point total in an even tie with Piatt’s. The final berth to the CrossFit Games would be determined by the tiebreaker. Since Piatt had higher finishes on the other events than Pease, Piatt won third overall.
“I have respect for any rules in a given sport … Wes and I tied as far as points, but I lost the tiebreaker. Rules are rules. Wes won fair and square,” Pease said. “I was pretty numb after they announced (that) I didn’t get (third).”
His wife, Samantha, watched it all happen from the stands.
“When I saw Castro pull Tommy aside and let him know he didn’t get it, I was just heartbroken for him,” she said. “It was seriously like a death with all of our members—walking back to pack up the tent … everyone dragging their feet in disbelief.”
Pease packed his gear, and headed home.
A couple months later, Piatt went on to compete at the CrossFit Games in Carson, California. Pease watched Piatt compete, which prompted an unexpected friendship between the two competitors.
“We didn’t talk during the competition weekend or right after, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been upset or surprised if the dude never talked to me or even liked me,” Piatt said. “But he reached out to me on social media soon after, telling me congrats and that he was rooting for me.”
To Pease, it’s as simple as good sportsmanship.
“I love Games season and the excitement that is sparked within the CrossFit community (and) the true sportsmanship that comes with it. The camaraderie that comes with the sport is what brings me in everyday,” Pease said. “(Piatt) handled it with grace and I have nothing but great things to say about him.”
Piatt moved to the Northern California Region after last year’s regional and he and Pease remain friends.
Piatt will watch Pease compete in Del Mar, California this weekend, and Pease will do the same for his friend the following weekend.
“I know who I'm rooting for this year in the SoCal Region,” Piatt said, “and you better believe I'll be wearing (a Team Tommy Pease hat) at this year’s regionals. This year is Tommy's year! He's gonna freaking crush it!”
Each year, Pease has bettered his placing at the regional—sixth in 2012, and fourth in 2013. If he keeps on track, he’ll be on the podium in 2014.
The narrow miss last year has motivated him to train harder than ever.
“It absolutely fueled the fire,” Pease said. “I wouldn’t be an athlete or a CrossFitter if it didn’t!”