If there ever is an athlete capable of stealing the show, it's Spealler. And that's exactly what he did.
It was a fight to the finish, and the top three men, women and teams of the South West Regional have punched their ticket to Carson, Calif., for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Headed west in July are Matt Chan, Patrick Burke and Chris Spealler for the men; Colleen Maher, Jasmine Dever and Becky Conzelman for the women; and Hacks Pack UTE, Front Range CrossFit and Bomb Squad for teams.
Where Workout 5 tested strength and form, Workout 6 threw the kitchen sink at the remaining athletes and teams. They were hit with a barrage of deadlifts, muscle-ups, wall ball shots, toes-to-bars, farmer carries and burpee box jumps.
All six athletes in the first heat made it to the box jumps, with Eric O'Connor and Gil Hollingsworth both dropping off their 100lb dumbbells at the boxes at the same time. O'Connor and Hollingsworth would finish with heat-best times of 17:04 and 17:06, respectively. Kyle Boyer finished 3rd in the heat at 17:09.
In Heat 2, Brandon Mericle became the first man to finish Workout 6 under the 17-minute time cap. The CrossFit Surge athlete lived up to his affiliates name, moving steadily through each of the exercises before closing out his last three muscle-ups in front of a screaming crowd.
Mericle finished in 16:44, followed by Cody Jamison at 17:03 and Kevin Ogar at 17:04.
Great athletes give great finishes, and the final heat of the afternoon certainly delivered. Starting strong was Zach Forrest, who pushed through every deadlift, box jump and muscle-up convincingly to come out on top in Workout 6 with a time of 14:57.
As outstanding as Forrest's performance was, it only got better from there.
Chan carried his 100lb dumbbells back to the pull-up cage for his final farmer carry and appeared poised to bring it on home with his final three muscle-ups. But if there ever is an athlete capable of stealing the show, it's Spealler. And that’s exactly what he did.
Pushing through his second muscle-up, Chan dropped to the mat as Spealler finished his final farmer carry and took to the rings almost immediately. What happened next will likely go down as one of the shining moments in South West history: Three rapid muscle-ups later, there Spealler stood, tied with Chan for the second-best time. Punch that man’s ticket to the Games. Again.
Like Workout 4, the Regional’s final event proved unbeatable for the women.
Heading into Workout 6, no female athlete in the world had completed it within the 17-minute cap. The South West was no different.
Women in Heat 1 had a tough go from the start, struggling to make their way through. None of the athletes even made it as far as the final 100-foot farmer carries.
In Heat 2, Nicole Christensen managed to finish her three rounds of deadlifts, muscle-ups, wall ball shots and toes-to-bars, and had the two 70lb dumbbells in hand, ready to start her first 100-foot farmer's carry when time expired.
Even for the South West's top-seeded athletes, Workout 6 proved to be an exercise in futility. But even futile exercises can have their silver linings.
In the final heat, it was Emmalee Moore who finished her rounds, went the 100-foot distance with her pair of 70lb dumbbells in tow, and started on her burpee box jumps. Joining her seconds later was Becky Conzelman, followed by Tiffany Hendrickson, Colleen Maher and finally Jasmine Dever, in a moving show to close out the Regional.
"I felt bad. It hurt," says Dever when all was said and done. "I was just trying to get through."
The final event was no laughing matter, as the 12 teams who made the cut were put through a gauntlet that included a ridiculous series of muscle-ups, wall-ball shots, buddy and dumbbell carries, and box jumps.
In what has been mostly a three-horse race among Hacks Pack UTE, Front Range and Bomb Squad, a fourth team emerged to deliver an impressive performance in the final workout.
Staying under the radar using the steady-and-consistent approach that saw it climb the leaderboard over the first five workouts, MBS CrossFit saved its best for last.
“It seems since the first day, we’ve been slowly working our way up," said MBS team member Matt Johnson, who was rockin' his trademark mohawk. "Communication was our big thing. We started off practicing a couple of [the workouts] and we realized communication was the best thing to help us out."
Keeping up with the top three overall teams through the early part of the final event, MBS made their move at the final set of box jumps and powered through the final buddy and dumbbell run, and the last two agonizing muscle-ups to finish first in the event with a time of 14:34. It bested the South West's top team, Hacks Pack UTE, by 13 seconds.
"With this one it wasn’t too bad because we were so close to everybody, but Workout 4 was terrible. It took so much communication, we had a lot of mishaps," Johnson says. "We were fourth. It’s going to be like a Cinderella story if we make it. It’s going to be close.”
MBS’ Cinderella story ends there as their finish wasn’t enough to send them to the Home Depot Center.