On the final day of the Southern California Regional, there were no guarantees.
The top three places for the men, women and teams depended on the last workout, especially for the 3rd-place spots.
As the exhausted athletes took on the final workout of the day, the chatter among the crowd once again focused on the women. Would Lindsay Valenzuela manage to hold her lead over Andrea Ager in a workout that played to Ager’s strengths?
There were questions surrounding the men and teams races as well. Could Ryan Fischer take the third spot away from Games veteran Jeremy Kinnick? And with only one point separating CrossFit 760 and CrossFit SoCal going into Event 6, which of the teams would take the third spot?
Event 6 was a combination of deadlifts, muscle-ups, wall ball shots, toes-to-bar, farmer carry and burpee box jumps, finished off with three muscle-ups.
Tory Morgan was the only athlete to finish in the first heat, with 10 seconds to spare before the 17-minute time cap. In the second heat, Taylor Yaffee and Paul Gregow, both from CrossFit South County, took an early lead. Despite taking breaks under a small bit of shade offered by a nearby palm tree, Ronnie Teasdale surged ahead of the other men, and ended up being the only man in his heat to finish, with a time of 16:53.
CrossFit LA led the spectators in a slow clap as the top six men took to the competition floor for the last heat. Ryan Fischer, in 4th place going into the workout, took an early lead. Fischer destroyed the wall balls, doing the sets of 21 unbroken. Then Leverich made his move. He ripped through the toes-to-bar and was the first to the farmer carry. Leverich held his lead for the rest of the workout, winning the event with a time of 14:43.
“I am so surprised!” Leverich said. “I tried to pace myself. I knew everyone else was going to go all out. So I tried to use the sun as a factor as I tackled the WOD. I tried to save myself as I tackled each deadlift one at a time.”
Fischer finished behind Leverich with a time of 15:19, but 2nd place on this event was not good enough to move him up from fourth place overall.
Jeremy Kinnick finished behind Fischer, which allowed him to hold onto his 3rd-place spot. “It went exactly as I planned,” Kinnick said. “I didn’t go out too hard, I didn’t have enough on the burpees, but I just took short breaks. Nothing more than three seconds. I just stuck to my plan.”
Kinnick fought his way back from 12th place after the first event on Day 1, but he was experienced enough to stay calm.
“I’ve been there before,” Kinnick said. “I know that God’s got a plan for me. I focus on that, I don’t have to worry about what place, I just have to focus on going hard. I have a lot of experience and this will be my fourth time at the Games. Maybe things will play out differently this year.”
The women struggled with this punishing workout in the first few heats, fighting hard in the 80-plus degree weather. Shanon Humphrey — a mom of three — put up a good fight, beating out Madelyn Curley to win the second heat.
The crowds grew as the final women’s heat began in a workout that only five females completed worldwide thus far. Out of the six females in this heat, four were Valley CrossFit athletes. Valerie Voboril and Rebecca Voigt were tied on the Leaderboard going into this workout — would Andrea Ager upset them both?
Kristan Clever took an early lead, working quickly through the three rounds of deadlifts and muscle-ups. Past Games competitor Katie Hogan stalled out early on the muscle-ups, and was never able to complete her first round of 7 muscle-ups.
Clever worked steadily, expanding her lead, with her Valley teammate Rebecca Voigt close behind. It was during the farmer carry that Ager made her move, fighting her way to 2nd place after Clever, followed by Voigt.
The women moved onto the burpee box jumps, lying down on the hot black asphalt and jumping over the 20” box jump. Clever was the first back to the muscle-ups, completing three unbroken to finish the workout in 16:06. Following right behind her was Ager, who finished in 16:39 to come in 2nd in the workout.
Her Brick teammates embraced a weeping Ager, who didn’t know if this impressive performance was enough to earn her a spot at the Games when she finished the workout.
“I could just see the Games slipping away, I just want to go so bad. I just kept thinking you have to make this the whole way. If you drop it she’ll pass you. I was telling myself: you’re a burpee-er just go,” Ager said.
Clever and Ager were the only women in SoCal to finish this event under the 17-minute time cap. “Hopefully I’ll pull a Spealler,” Valenzuela said earlier in the day on the battle for 4th and 5th places.
Her two 1st-place finishes earlier in the weekend helped Valenzuela edge out Ager, to the surprise of many, including Valenzuela. “I thought I was out,” Valenzuela said after Event 6.
In addition to Clever, a former Games champion, three other women from SoCal will be heading to the Games: Voigt, Valerie Voboril, and Valenzuela, all prior Games competitors.
The final event of the Southern California Regional competition saw a battle for 3rd place between CrossFit 760 and CrossFit SoCal, who were separated by just one point. Invictus and CDR Redlands were almost guaranteed to finish 1st and 2nd respectively, especially given their strong performances all weekend.
In this mash-up of muscle-ups, wall ball shots, box jumps and buddy carries, the two male team members had to complete all of their work before the women could start their portion. The men of Invictus and CDR Redlands helped their teams to an early lead, going head-to-head on the wall balls.
Then, in a surprising twist, 11th-ranked Rancho Cucamonga pulled into 2nd place as the as the women took their turn, starting with the muscle ups.
CDR Redlands passed Rancho Cucamonga, and on the partner carry back to the last two muscle-ups for the women, it was a race between Invictus and CDR Redlands.
As with all of the team workouts, the success rested on the shoulders of the women. After a long workout and an even longer three days of competition, the women on the team each had to complete one muscle up each before they were finished with the event.
Getting just one muscle-up proved to be a daunting task. Every woman missed their first muscle-up, but the Invictus women recovered quickly to finish 1st, securing their 1st-place spot and a ticket to the Games.
CDR Redlands finished 2nd, putting them in 2nd overall.
Then it was a battle for third place between CrossFit 760 and CrossFit SoCal. CrossFit 760 got to the rings while CrossFit SoCal was just getting to their box jumps. It looked like their third-place spot was guaranteed — once each of the women completed a muscle-up.
After a few failed attempts, the first woman from CrossFit 760 got her muscle-up, and it was up to Kim Wong to finish the last one.
She worked for more than five minutes, and was unable to finish the last muscle-up. Wong was visibly shaken by her inability to secure her team’s spot to the Games: “I just got muscle-ups weeks ago, and this is the most muscle-ups I’ve ever done in a workout,” Wong said.
Meanwhile, CrossFit SoCal closed the distance, making it to the rings while CrossFit 760 was still trying to get that last muscle up. After a few failed attempts, the two women of CrossFit SoCal each completed their muscle-up and moved into 3rd place.
“The wall balls were much harder than we thought, the target was more difficult than what we had practiced with. We all had a hard time holding on to the bar, our grip was failing,” the Invictus athletes said. “But [on the buddy carry] we just went, I told her to just hold on; we wanted to win this workout. We were all on the team last year except for Justin, but he was on the team the year before.”
With their win, Invictus would be headed to the Games again in 2012, along with CrossFit CDR Redlands and CrossFit SoCal.
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