Bill Grundler, 42, wins the men's competition, and Kristan Clever sets a new world record by 10 seconds.
Southern Californians love their cars, so it’s fitting the SoCal Regional took place in a parking lot underneath palm trees.
The Fairplex, the site of this year’s Regionals, has been the home of the L.A. County Fair since 1922. “We’re thrilled to have CrossFit here” said Melissa DeMonaco Tapia, who was responsible for bringing the event to the Fairplex. Inspired by the fit and strong-looking crowd, DeMonaco Tapia said that after watching the athletes compete she was ready to try CrossFit herself.
Southern California is one of the most competitive regions in the world. Amid the large Invictus crowd, known as the “sea of green” and the orange-clad fans of Brick CrossFit, who call themselves Brick Nation, the pre-event chatter focused on the individual women. Would the athletes of Brick Nation be able to break up the Valley Girl juggernaut?
1. Bill Grundler 2:12
2. Colin Jenkins 2:15
3. Roy Voss 2:16
The first heat of men’s Event 1, the classic CrossFit couplet Diane, included a newcomer to CrossFit, Neil Minella. After watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN, Minella, who has only been doing CrossFit for 26 weeks, placed 29th in the Open. Minella, who trains by himself at a globo gym, finished with a time of 6:32.
The first heat also included dark horse Colin Jenkins from CrossFit Ventura. Jenkins placed 36th in the region after the Open, but was on fire during this event and finished with a time of 2:15, securing him a second-place spot overall in the event.
The second heat started with a false start by one of the athletes, which wasn’t called until the rest of the athletes were several reps into their deadlifts. All the men had to start over again, but despite the confusion, Rich Voss of CrossFit Mission Gorge won the heat with a time of 2:16, giving him a third place finish overall.
The crowd in the stands swelled for the last heat of Event 1, which featured many former Games athletes. The loudest cheers were from Jeremy Kinnick’s enthusiastic fan base. As in the earlier heats, athletes struggled with no-reps from their judges, either from failing to lock out their arms, or when their feet came off the wall at the top.
Kenneth Leverich, first in the region after the Open, took an early lead, knocking out strict handstand pushups and rapid-fire deadlifts. It looked like event was in the bag for Leverich when he got stuck on the wall during the last set of nine handstand push-ups. It took Leverich 16 seconds to complete his last set of handstand push-ups—including many no-reps from the judge when his feet came off the wall. Leverich, who was visibly upset after the workout, finished in fourth place overall.
This allowed 42-year-old Bill Grundler to move ahead and capture first place. “I’m not as nervous as I was last year,” Grundler said before the event began. “This year, what are you gonna do? You gotta go out there and see how it plays out. I like Diane. I think I want to hang in the low 2’s [under two minutes], definitely under 2:30.” With a winning time of 2:12—faster than Rich Froning’s time of 2:14—Grundler accomplished his goal, laying the groundwork for the possibility of finally securing a spot at the Games.
1. Kristan Clever: 1:54
2. Rebecca Voigt: 2:08
3. Madelyn Curley: 2:44
The handstand push-ups were the limiting factor for most athletes in the first few heats of the women’s Event 1. First-time individual regional competitor and former gymnast Lindsay Renteria of CrossFit Pacific Beach won her heat with a time of 4:44, just beating Katie Hogan of Valley CrossFit who finished with a time of 4:51.
Games veteran Linda Leipper of CrossFit for Boobs said that for Event 1, it’s all about strategy. Forty-four-year-old Leipper, a year away from qualifying for masters division, competed in the second heat. Going into Diane, Leipper knew she had to be strategic. “I'm not going straight through the deadlifts because I need to save myself for the handstand pushups, which are a weakness,” Leipper said. Leipper broke up the first few sets but still struggled at the end, repeatedly failing on her final handstand push-up. She finished with a time of 5:56.
The final heat was a battle of veterans versus newcomers; Brick CrossFit versus Valley CrossFit. Madelyn Curley and Andrea Ager of Brick CrossFit were competing head-to-head against Games veterans and Valley CrossFit athletes Lindsey Valenzuela, Rebecca Voigt and Kristan Clever.
Before the event, Clever said her strategy was to not kill herself on any of the first few events. “I mean, if you finish first on any one of these workouts you may have made a mistake,” Clever said.
It’s possible Clever forgot her own advice once she stepped out onto the competition floor. With the crowd cheering, the music blasting, and a world record within sight, it’s difficult for any true competitor to hold back. Clever tore through the workout, finishing with a world-record-setting time of 1:55. Her Valley CrossFit teammate, Becca Voigt, finished just behind her with a time of 2:08. “It went better than I expected,” Voigt said. “Rep Scheme? Yeah, kill it. Everything went flawless my warm up, it felt smooth and seamless.” It wasn’t all Valley CrossFit veterans in the top three; former gymnast Madelyn Curley finished third with a time of 2:44. It will remain to be seen if Madelyn can hang onto her top three spot as the weight gets heavy in Event 2.
1. Team CDR Redlands: 5:08
2. CrossFit SoCal 5:15
3T. CrossFit 760
3T. Outlier CrossFit Vader
The key to Team Event 1, the team version of Diane, was the partner deadlift. Many teams struggled with the transitions—loading and unloading weights for the men and women’s weights—and height difference between the partners hindered many pairs.
Lauren Jirges, of Brick CrossFit said her team practiced transitions twice before regionals. Jirges said it helped that she and her teammate Sylvia Galindo are the same height. “Having about the same strength and build helped a lot with the deadlifts,” she said. “Plus, being a former track athlete I am really about speed and Sylvia used to dance so she is very technical. We were able to feed off each other's strengths.”
In the final heat, Molly Biss of CrossFit 760 came off the last set of deadlifts and her legs buckled beneath her. “I started to run and my hamstrings wouldn’t fire,” Biss said. She began to fall a few steps into the run and dove across the finish line. “I locked my eyes on the finish line. If I fall I’m going to fall into the finish line,” she said.
Team CDR Redlands finished first with a time of 5:08. CrossFit SoCal came in second, and CrossFit 760 and Outlier CrossFit Vader tied for third. “It hurt a little more than we thought it would due to the adrenaline, but we knocked off 20 seconds from the last time we practiced,” a team member from Outlier CrossFit said.
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