After a grueling day of workouts tailored to strength and endurance, South West athletes were forced to shift gears on Day 3 as the morning's snatch-ladder event was designed to test both strength and technique.
Workout 5 also proved to be a mental test, as men, women and teams jockeyed for position to make the cut and be one of the 18 individuals or 12 teams moving on to the final workout of 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games South West Regional.
Teams were tasked with making their way through the ladder, while individual male and female competitors had to perform 20 double-unders before each attempt.
For the men — all in one heat — many struggled to make it past 205 pounds.
Nate Beard was the first to make a strong move up the ladder. The CrossFit Red athlete fell just short of his personal best but managed an impressive 255-pound snatch — the second-best of the men.
Behind Beard, Drew Canavero was next to make it to at least the 245-pound lift, which would have been good for third-best had it not been for Matt Hathcock. Hathcock edged Canavero out of the top three with double-unders to finish.
The men's division included a 10-pound PR for crowd favorite Chris Spealler, who snatched 225 pounds.
"Of course I was a little tired and sore, but once you get out there and start moving and get around the crowd and competition, you kind of forget a little about it," says Spealler, who was cheered on by the crowd who erupted each time he made a lift. "I wanted 225. Bad.”
Instead of attempting 235, he deadlifted the bar reeling off a series of double-unders.
As the final few dropped out, only one remained on the floor: Matt Chan.
Saving the best performance for last, Chan didn't disappoint. He lifted his way past 255 pounds as the crowd erupted in roars each time he nailed a lift. It was evident he was all-in as he approached the next bar, but ultimately fell short after two failed attempts. Still, it was enough to edge out Beard and win Workout 5. Hathcock placed third in the workout.
As we enter the sixth and final workout, Chan has moved ahead of Burke to take hold of the No.1 overall position. Burke now sits in second place, followed by Hathcock.
As the day started, South Central's Azadeh Boroumand was the only athlete to successfully complete a 170-pound snatch, a PR for the Get Lifted CrossFitter. Several South West women — also in one heat — also saw PRs.
Hannah Caldas was the first, making her way through the first five lifts with relative ease before peaking at 140 pounds.
As the heat progressed and the athletes thinned, two athletes who were separated by a single lift — Whitney Cappellucci and Juli Bauer — began pacing their way up the snatch ladder. It was an exhibit in poise and strength as Cappellucci and Bauer, fueled by the roaring crowd, continued their ascent and eventually set PRs.
“My PR was 135 before I got 145," says Bauer, who exited the floor with a huge smile on her face and tears running down her cheeks. "I was so excited, I cried! I wanted to get 135. I wanted to match my previous PR because I’d only gotten that once. So, to get over that was crazy!”
Not only was her performance on Workout 5 a new PR, Cappellucci won the event after successfully completing at 165-pound snatch.
“When we practiced this at home, I got to 160 and that was on the second attempt and it was after the time expired," Cappellucci says. "So, I really didn’t know how I was going to do."
Colleen Maher, 17, continued to put on a display of strength and made her way to 155 pounds. After adding a few extra double-unders, Maher finished behind Cappellucci in the workout. Rounding out Workout 5’s top three were Jasmine Dever with a 150-pound snatch.
Heading into the sixth and final workout, Maher remains ahead of the curve, followed by Dever at No. 2 and Becky Conzelman at No. 3.
Female team members saw a slow start out of the gates, with a number of them failing to advance past the first couple rungs of the snatch ladder. But as Workout 5 progressed, so did the athletes.
Klubo Flingai of CrossFit Scottsdale made the first strong push of the morning, powering her way through the first six lifts to become the first to reach 135 pounds.
CrossFit Verve was the next to make their presence known, with all three members of the women's team advancing past 135 pounds. But 140 pounds proved too much for the trio and that was as far as they got.
As the teams dwindled, Wasatch CrossFit Blue put together a strong series of lifts to become the first team to crack the 145-pound mark. But the team was outdone a short time later by Bomb Squad, who was able to advance to 155 pounds thanks to an impressive effort by Deanna Gillespey.
“Deana is definitely our strongest lifter, so we knew she had to go first, and then me and Katie would just see how we got through, letting Deana take the way," says Bomb Squad teammate Aimee Berensci. "We knew Deana had it though.”
Not only did Gillespey have it, it ended up being quite the achievement for her.
“It was a PR for me," she says. "I thought I could have gotten more if I actually squatted.”
Next, the first few male team members moved one after another through the first few lifts, with the rest of the teams looking on and pacing around the sidelines like lions in a cage. Much like we saw with the men and women's individuals, the herd quickly was thinned and the top teams made their move.
Midway through, CrossFit Dixie caused a stir thanks to an impressive exhibition of strength by team member Misiovala Tupe. He progressed further than anyone, making it look easy as he successfully completed a PR and a heat-best 265-pound lift.
“I just listen to what all the coaches tell me — just to stay focused going in here, stay relaxed. Just throw the weight up," says Tupe, a former Texas A&M football player who started CrossFit just six months ago. "Today was my PR. I just started snatching probably three weeks ago. My goal coming in was to hit 265 and I hit 265. I had 275 for a second. I was shocked that that weight went up, oh my goodness, I almost had it, but there is always a next time.”
Bomb Squad was the first team to advance all three male members to the 225-pound snatch, but it was Will Trujillo who would move past the lift. He would make his way up the ladder past 255 pounds before peaking at 265 pounds — a PR for the former collegiate linebacker.
"I got to get pretty emotional ... I was nervous. But if I’m not amped up, the bar is not moving," says Trujillo, who helped his team to second place in Workout 5. "I just want every lift to be max effort, balls to the wall. My mom is always telling me to take yoga breaths. I don’t know what that means, but I just knew that those guys from Front Range and Tommy and Adrian [from UTE], they’re strong as shit so I knew I had to do something to keep us competitive."
Front Range CrossFit also advanced all three team members to the 225-pound mark and eventually finished third in the event.
Not to be outdone, the top overall team entering Day 3, Hacks Pack UTE, also saw two members reach 255 pounds and eventually won the heat that included all teams. Hacks Pack was led by none other than Tommy Hackenbruck, who, like Trujillo, fell short at the 265-pound lift.
Heading into Workout 6, Hacks Pack remains ahead of the pack at No.1 overall, followed by Front Range and Bomb Squad.