A fog surrounds the Ohio Expo center as if to keep hidden the tests of strength and will meant for each Central East athlete. Many will enter, many will be tested, few will advance, but it doesn’t seem to faze a single one.
The energy is unbridled and for the first time within the nature of CrossFit competition the judges are the ones fearing the athletes as they shake the earth beneath the feet. Ready to break from the gate with spectators so loud the announcer is muted.
The Central East teams took the floor in what would be a continuation of the season for some – and the culmination for others. Teams from all heats will enter each bar with more screams from the crowd than every heat from previous years.
Event 1 showed the strength and balance of some of the area’s top teams like SPC and Covington CrossFit with only winning in mind. Make no mistake, confidence enhancing ability.
"We wanted a world record," said Sam Heydlauff of SPC CrossFit.
And a world record they got. SPC CrossFit started strong and stayed that way through the course of the event, completing 160 reps of deadlifts and handstand push-ups in 4:28.
But no one on the team expected to set the bar so high, so to speak, in the first event.
"This one wasn't really our worry," Heydlauff added after the event.
"All our strengths, skill are there," said teammate Brett Sepi. "We just know each other really well, we're great friends, we know how to communicate with each other and that's important."
1.SPC CrossFit (4:28)
2. CrossFit Naptown (5:03)
3. CrossFit Covington (5:16)
Going into the women's heats, the competitors of the Central East were ready to get this game underway.
Emily Griffith came out of her heat with a time of 4:22. "I'm excited because the rest will be brutal because of the weight," she says. "Who knows, maybe I'll pull the 70-pound dumbbell out of my ass."
All eyes were locked on the top women in the region – Julie Foucher, Lindsey Smith and Michelle Kinney, as well as the entire third heat wasted no time pushing through the 155-pound deadlifts and handstand push-ups. But it was a neck and neck race throughout.
It was Jolene Grant who took the top spot with a time of 2:28.
"Wonderful," Grant said in a breath at the end of the workout. "Handstand push-ups are easier for me, but I’ve got to get my head on straight for strength."
This competition proved once again to be a breeding ground for the unpredictable as Jennifer Osborne – 9th going into the event – did not finish Diane when the horn was blown.
As she walked off the floor Foucher felt relief. "Feels good. Glad to have the first one over with," she says.
1. Jolene Grant (2:28)
2. Julie Foucher (2:36)
3. Lindsey Nieporte (3:25)
The men’s competition in the Central East is a firestorm of some of the best CrossFit athletes in the country. However, watching world records crushed is still a surprise, especially when the crowd is treated to more than one record obliteration.
As the men lined up behind for the first heat, the crowd gathered at the guardrails – screaming for their favorites, dark horses and fire breathers.
Going into one of CrossFit’s most beloved and feared workouts, Nick Urankar had his sights set on one thing … winning.
Staring Urankar, Froning, and Bailey down was a world record currently held by CrossFit favorite Chris Spealler set just last week, of 1:52, but Urankar is focused. "I want to win 1st place in Diane, whether that's at 2:40 or 1:40, whatever, I don't care. I just want to win," he says.
Urankar’s confidence was justified as he finished Diane 2nd behind new world record holder Dan Bailey who now owns the time of 1:35. "That's one of the ones I get to beat (Froning) on," says Bailey.
ESPN3 viewers, along with the live crowd, were treated to not one, but two previous CrossFit Games winners, when Graham Holmerg comes off the wall shortly after 3rd place finisher Joe Herran. As usual, Holmeberg makes it look like it’s another day’s work.
As Bailey, Holmberg and Froning leave the floor Urankar lets out a howl the crowd hears signifying he came to play, backed up by his performance. In true CrossFit fashion, Froning Bailey and Holmberg cheer on Shawn Stauffer, the sole remaining competitor finishing Event 1. Stauffer’s competitor becomes his coach in a way only CrossFitters would understand when Froning shouts, “One more, one more.”
1. Dan Bailey (1:35)
2. Nick Urankar (1:47)
3. Joe Herren (2:02)