Jessica Sieff, Cindy Young and Josh Bunch
What's true in the Central East Region is just as true everywhere else when the final event meets each competitor upon the chalk-filled arena floor that has already witnessed record after record fall to the strength of such remarkable athletes.
For the top 12 teams competing in this weekend’s Regionals, Event 6 would be a true test of cooperation, communication, strength, skill and endurance. It would be a true team effort. Each team would have to power through muscle-ups, wall balls, buddy/dumbbell carries and box jumps. Meanwhile, while one works, the others are holding 225 pounds or holding their chin over the bar until the reps are completed.
If there is a theme the 2012 Regional Events, it is that no one team member can hide. This becomes the most evident within the last workout of the weekend as enormous crowds of teams, judges, and spectators gather around a pit of athletes all working simultaneously as a unit. Clanging above the rings, falling beneath the lights, and achieving amidst the rigs.
CrossFit Maximus was the first to get to the wall balls and the partner farmer carry followed closely behind Regional leaders, SPC CrossFit. In a stunning upset CrossFit Maximus took 1st place in Event 6 – soaring through the muscle-ups and stealing the thunder from SPC CrossFit who would end their Regional performance on top but without that final world record they were hoping for.
Favorites from the weekend, Friendship CrossFit and CrossFit Covington, were visibly disappointed, struggling with the muscle-ups for the majority of the time with hopes to return next year having that particular talent within their wheelhouse.
The real team battle was witnessed between the top five spots. Rogue Gahanna (No. 2), CrossFit Faith (No. 3) and Jacked and Tan (No. 4) were separated with just two points between them. Each team found themselves slowed by the rings giving CrossFit Maximus the edge with every passing minute. Finally, after a very slow male start, the women of Rogue Gahanna saved the day, completing their portion of Event 6 with one second to spare, and guaranteeing their spot to California.
Due to a muscle-up bottleneck, coupled with spectacular comeback performances, CrossFit Maximus stunned everyone in the house tying Jacked and Tan for 3rd place. It all came down to the finish, leaving the tie-breaking decision hinging upon the fact that CrossFit Maximus attained the best event finish of the two, scoring a 1st place finish in Event 6. Coming off the floor, CrossFit Maximus’ Chris Walker pointed over to teammate Jennifer Smith. “She’s so excited she wants to squeal,” Walker said. “We fought all weekend to stay in it, to get to this WOD. We knew this would be our best. Winning WOD 6 was the plan … we are ecstatic.”
1. CrossFit Maximus (14:11)
2. SPC CrossFit (15:23)
3. Jacked and Tan (20:47)
1. SPC CrossFit
2. CrossFit Maximus
3. Rogue Gahanna
The problematic gauntlet of a final workout starring the remaining female competitors in the face would prove troublesome for even the top athletes. The final individual workout for females would require the completion of; three rounds of deadlifts (225 lbs.) and muscle-ups; three rounds of wall ball shots and toes-to-bar followed, finally, by a 100-foot farmer carry, 28 burpee box jumps, another 100-foot farmer carry and three muscle-ups with a 17-minute cap.
Nicole Holcomb and Jolene Grant took deep breaths while Abby Knowles of CrossFit Covington moved through her toes-to-bar. Grant was the first female in the second heat to head for the box, getting in a couple of burpees before the horn brought the second heat to a close. Worn out after the final event, Jen Osborn went into the workout thinking, “Just have fun,” she says. When the fun was over, she leaned against the wall back in the athlete's village with a smile on her face.
A stunning upset by CrossFit Maximus earlier in the team event reminded everyone anything can happen in competitions. With her husband already on the road to the Games with his team, Rogue Gahanna’s Heather Welsh was getting anxious back in the athlete's village during the second heat. "I'm ready to get this over with. I've done this workout before and was at the burpees at the 17-minute mark, so we'll see."
Within the final heat, Kinney was the first of the women to make it to the second round of muscle-ups, followed closely behind by Julie Foucher. Kinney eventually left Foucher behind becoming the first athlete to enter the wall-ball/toe-to-bar couplet. Kinney was fighting. Desperately giving her all in a last ditch attempt to continue her season.
Foucher did not remain behind Kinney for long. She again left all her competitors eventually returning back to the rig with what appeared to be the fastest box jumps and farmer carry of the day. All that remained between Foucher and yet another world record was two wooden rings.
Foucher finished her final event with a world record-breaking time of 15:21. "The crowd played a huge part," Foucher said. “I can hear certain people, I can hear the announcer, I was keeping Michelle in the corner of my eye the whole time."
With Foucher shouting her home, Kinney managed to become the second woman ever to complete Workout 6 with a time of 16:38. Welsh, held on to her 3rd place spot and will head to the Games with her husband in July.
With the CrossFit Games on the horizon and Regionals behind her, Foucher, a CrossFitting medical student, has only one thing to say. "I have homework."
1. Julie Foucher (15:21)
2. Michelle Kinney (16:38)
3. Heather Welsh (17:05)
1. Julie Foucher
2. Lindsey Smith
3. Heather Welsh
While Julie Foucher was stealing the hearts of every member in the audience at the Ohio Expo Center at the end of the women's competition, the man who started it all, Greg Glassman was watching just steps away and just moments before the men took on the final event of this Region's spectacular weekend. "We've created an event," Glassman said. "This is huge."
By comparison, the first male heat felt almost like the calm before the storm as Dane Youtz made it to the first farmer carry of the first heat. Multiple athletes in heats to come would somehow make it to the box jumps and final set of muscle-ups, but their struggle was nothing compared to what was seen by some in the second heat as David Stowe was handed one no-rep during muscle-up attempts. Stowe's face was pained as he pushed through the toes-to-bar.
The performance-spoiled crowd had peaked by the time the final heats of the Central East Regional took the floor. A total of 13 points separate 4th and 5th place in the men's final heat. Which meant that before the stage was even set for the final heat – there would be only one spot open for a fresh face.
Before the workout, Bailey turned to his friend, Froning and said, "Let's break another record."
Bailey and Froning kept a steady pace going into the muscle-ups while Holmberg suffered no-reps in the first set. The weight belt came off for Bailey and Froning and the wall balls went up, with Holmberg clinging to 3rd. While Froning, Bailey and Holmberg held tight to their places, every rep mattered most to Marcus Hendren and Scott Panchik who were clearly battling for 4th place, followed by Urankar.
Froning made it to his first couple burpee box jumps as Bailey picked up the dumbbells and ran his farmer carry to the box.
Holmberg stopped mid-carry, picking up the dumbbells, as it was Panchik to take the 4th place lead coming out of the gate to the box. The top three men in this division showed three different styles of box jumps, Holmberg stepping down from the box, Bailey jumping over and Froning keeping to a more classic form.
Froning went on to break yet another world record finishing Workout 6 at 12:22, a full minute less than Ben Smith's prior 13:24. Bailey and Holmberg finished 2nd and 3rd.
Even the cheers awarded to Froning for his world record-breaking performance are meager compared to the eruption given to those left fighting for a chance. Urankar fought for every rep, taking his farmer carry to the box, leaving Hendren on the bar. But it was in the farmer carry that Hendren, a farmer, hit his stride, practically sprinting to the box.
After Panchik secured 4th place in the event, Urankar approached his final three muscle-ups. As if his life and future depended upon the next 20 seconds, Hendren sprinted his farmer carry back to a ring-ridden finale meeting Urankar. Hendren immediately jumped up to the rings. "I saw Urankar and said, ‘I'm a farmer. I can farmer's walk,’” Hendren said.
When all was said and done, Panchik and Hendren will join the rest of the competitors on their journey to the CrossFit Games 2012.
As the arena emptied out, three days filled with PRs, world records, returning favorites, new favorites, surprises and disappointments still echoed off the walls.
Yet for Greg Glassman, CrossFit remains more about the people than the titles. It's about changing the lives of the people who live the culture they way he saw it from the beginning. The same people who will take with them a love for the sport when they go back to the box after what they've seen here.
"At the root, this isn't about the elite athlete," Glassman said. "What this does is promote the programming. I'll take a person losing 100 pounds over the Games any day."
1. Rich Froning (12:22)
2. Dan Bailey (13:06)
3. Graham Holmberg (13:59)
1. Rich Froning
2. Dan Bailey
3. Graham Holmberg
Athletes in this Article: