Mid Atlantic athletes know how to keep things interesting. Here's what happened in the first half of Day 2.
Nate Schrader called his shot.
After wrapping up the first day of Mid Atlantic Regional competition with a stellar performance in Event 2, the CrossFit Games veteran told reporters he would win Event 3 on Saturday.
You can guess how this story ends.
Working in the final heat, Schrader cruised through his four sets of 10 one-arm 100 pound dumbbell snatches and sprints. The 27-year-old owner of Iron Forged Athletics finished in 4:11 – 23 seconds faster than the 2nd place time turned in by Steve Pinkerton of CrossFit Vitality – to claim 1st in the event.
Cody Loeffler of CrossFit Apex finished 3rd in 4:43.
Overall Regional leader and defending champion Ben Smith finished in 4:59, 8th in the event.
Schrader’s plan going into the event was to go at about 90 percent effort for the first round of dumbbell snatches and secure a lead going into the first sprint. He did that and never let up.
“Once I noticed there was no one around me, I slowed up on the last two rounds of snatches and the sprint,” Schrader says, who finished 14th at Games in 2011. “I was right where I wanted to be, so there was no reason for me to maintain that speed.”
Pinkerton won Heat 3 with a time of 4:34, and with his 2nd place finish, he continued his quick ascent to the top of the Leaderboard after a subpar first event.
He was disappointed with his Diane time (4:17), but rebounded with a 3rd place finish in the punishing Event 2 (13:05), and even had a world record – for a little while. Pinkerton said he had no choice but to keep improving with each event.
“I had 14 points to make up going into today, so I knew I had to make up 4 points an event to have a chance going into that last event [Sunday],” Pinkerton says, adding that those 4 points were in his head the entire time he was competing in Event 3. “I’m a numbers guy, so for me, I know exactly where I’m at and I can’t just flick it off and be like, ‘O.K., wherever I finish is where I finish.’ I know that every person in there I have to beat, and hope my time stands up through the last heat.”
Loeffler’s time stood up as the best in Heat 2 by far, which was a pretty big surprise to the 24-year-old from suburban Philadelphia. The first time he practiced the dumbbell snatches and sprints on his own, he didn’t finish in the 10 minutes allotted for the event. But he worked on his technique, and the second time he tried he finished in five minutes.
He attributed his strong performance Saturday to being at Regionals and competing against the fittest athletes in the region. A disappointing finish on Event 2 also motivated him.
“It was redemption time for me,” Loeffler said, adding that in Event 3, “it’s going to be a test of will and a test of heart to finish.”
Another Pennsylvanian, Brian Quinlan of CrossFit Explode, provided the crowd with a thrill at the end of Heat 4 when he out-sprinted Smith to the finish. Quinlan tied for sixth with a time of 4:56 to vault into 4th place overall.
“I was looking for him, because I heard the crowd say Ben Smith was right behind me,” Quinlan said. “It’s always good if you can beat Ben Smith at something."
It’s going to be tough for anyone to “beat” Event 4, a marathon of back, front and overhead squats, pull-ups and shoulder to overhead.
Schrader offered another prediction heading into the next event, but it wasn’t nearly as bold as his last one.
“The next workout I want to finish somewhere between 5th and 10th,” he said.
The energy was high as the women’s heats in Event 3 started. With 70 pound dumbbell snatches on the horizon, the game was set to break apart the pack.
The first heat delivered with no women finishing in the time cap. The second heat gave three top 10 finishers in the workout: Michelle Benedict of CrossFit Fort Bragg (4th), Melissa Jamerino of Crossfit Local (7th) and Mary Webster of Hardbat Crossfit (9th). This was Webster’s second top 10 finish of the competition; she finished 8th in Event 2.
The most notable athlete in Heat 2 was Aimee Lyons, owner of CrossFit King of Prussia, despite only getting three reps on the snatches. Lyons has several injuries on her left side, including a tear in her wrist and tendonitis. "I was never able to [snatch with] that hand in practice."
The crowd roared as she repeatedly attempted the left-handed snatch during the event. Finally, she succeeded. The noise was deafening. Lyons said it was "really cool to have the support" from the crowd.
Heat 3 is where the real action began. As the top-ranked athletes walked on the floor, all were certain it would be a fight to watch. Right out of the gate, Gretchen Kittelberger took the lead, followed closely by Emily Pale who all would expect to do well in this event. Pale’s advantage is her top-end strength.
On Pale's heels was Jenn Jones, the current leader in the women’s competition. Then, out of nowhere, 2009 Games champion Tanya Wagner sprinted out ahead after the second set of snatches. The energy at the venue went through the roof.
Wagner, Pale and Kittelberger fought through the last set of snatches. But Wagner prevailed taking 1st with a time of 5:38. “The game plan was to go out easy at first,” she says.
She didn’t want to fall too far behind, but knew from practice she needed to pace herself. “The crowd really got me into it.”
Right behind her with a huge smile on her face, Pale sprinted to the finish. “I feel on top of the world,” she says. “My cheeks hurt more that my arms or legs.”
In 3rd place came Jones. Kittelberger, who led the pack out the gate, fell to 4th in the heat and 5th overall. Christy Phillips finished 4th in the heat and 6th overall in Event 2.
Only 6 points separated the top five teams coming into Day 2, but after the first event of the day, the top teams are beginning to pull away as the battle for a trip to the Games continues.
CrossFit Greensboro’s Alex Kellner and Cameron Williams set a blazing pace to finish in 4:58. This world record pace beat CrossFit Dallas Central’s time at the South Central regional by 15 seconds. William Boylan and Lauren Krygowski of CrossFit Explode from West Chester, Penn., came in second at 5:31. And RedPoint CrossFit out of Fayetteville finished 20 seconds later in 5:51.
For CrossFit Greensboro, the event went better than they planned. Cameron Williams said that, “everything happened perfectly.” They were expecting 50 second rounds from Kellner and under one minute from her. They were right on pace all the way through, clocking 46 seconds and 58 seconds respectively, on their third round.
CrossFit Explode is a new team at this year’s Regionals. This team is turning heads, finishing 2nd in two of three events thus far and sitting 2nd place overall – two points ahead of defending Regional champions RAW Training.
Coach and box owner Brian Quinlan said when the team earned a trip to Regionals, they started training harder and adding more strength workouts. They trained together every Saturday with other local affiliates to stay in competition mode, often using heavier weights than prescribed.
Coming out of Heat 2 to claim 3rd place, RedPoint Crossfit’s Armond Lotman and Krista Owens moved their team up six places in the overall standings, from 17th to 11th. The team placed 25th at Regionals last year. Lotman says they have a whole new team this year and are enjoying working together. “As soon as we saw the workout, we all knew that me and Krista would be the best for it,” he says. “In practice, we hit sub-six every time so were we right at our goal today.”
Heat 1 was led from the start by Keith Bussom and Jessica Reid of CrossFit Apex with a finish time of 7:15. CrossFit West Chester’s James Wingerter and Samantha Hart came in 2nd in 9:32. Bryan Shires and Lindsey Wehseler of Mountaineer CrossFit from West Virginia rounded out the top three with a time of 10:52. Bussom from Apex said they had everybody on the team try this workout in training and he and Reid we were the most successful in it.
Across the board, athletes who competed in this team event are taking the rest of the day off to prepare for tomorrow’s snatch ladder event where all six team members will compete.