It was almost a repeat of 2011.
Two years ago, the winners of the SoCal Regional were Josh Bridges, Rebecca Voigt, and Invictus.
This year, the top spots went to Bridges, Lindsey Valenzuela, and Invictus, with Voigt in second place, one point behind Valenzuela.
The fact that so many familiar names topped the Leaderboard is impressive, especially in a field that gets more competitive with each year.
"I came here on a mission this weekend and I succeeded,” Bridges said. “It feels great.”
Voigt said the secret to earning what will be her sixth trip to the Games is easy.
“Move better, eat better, sleep better,” she said. “It's done me pretty well.”
The first two spots were sewn up by Bridges and Leverich, but the third ticket to the Games was up for grabs going into Event 7.
Wes Piatt and Tommy Pease were locked in a battle for third place in this short and heavy rope clean/squat clean event.
It didn’t start off so well for Piatt.
The men — most of them wearing shirts to protect their chest from the cleans — all went right to the ropes and began climbing. Except for Piatt.
He couldn't get his foot wrapped around the rope, so he dropped back to the ground to collect himself and begin his climb again. By the time Piatt was back on the rope to start the event, every other competitor in his heat had finished their first climb.
As with almost every event of the competition, Bridges took an early lead and held it. He knew he didn’t need to win this event to place first overall, but taking it easy is not the Bridges way.
“Going into the last workout, I just wanted to go out there and give it my all,” Bridges said.
“I know I could have come out and coasted through it and still finished great, but I wanted to give the fans a show. They've been out here, long days all weekend, and they deserve it,” he said.
Piatt soon made up for lost time. He caught up in the second round, passing Leverich and Wayne Willette. The 225-lb. squat cleans, which slowed down many of the men, posed no problem for Piatt. He worked steadily and took over the second spot behind Bridges with a time of 4:29.
This was Piatt’s first Regional competition, and now he will join Bridges and Leverich at the 2013 Games.
Pease slowed down on the final four cleans, passed by Fischer and Willette. He tied for ninth place with Teddy Hwang, missing a spot to the Games by a single second. (Piatt and Pease ended up with the same number of points, but because Piatt had higher finishes on other events than Pease, Piatt took third.)
“I'm just on cloud 9 right now!” Piatt said after he learned of this third-place finish
“I had no idea, going into Event 7, if I was going to finish in third or not. I missed Regional (competition) last year by two spots in the Open, so this season is my 'redemption' season. Going into the last workout, I just wanted to do my best. Knowing that I gave it my all and did my best was my goal. It hasn't even crossed my mind or sunken in yet that I'm going (to the Games).” Piatt said.
Leverich, who will return to the Games for a second time, said this year he “traded some strength for some smarts."
"I really focused on body awareness during my training this year,” he said.
“I rested a lot more, took care of myself. I didn't let myself get worried about what other athletes were doing or let anyone interrupt my focus. I just got more efficient.”
Leverich said his plan for tomorrow is simple. “I'm going surfing, dude!"
1. Josh Bridges (4:23)
2. Wes Piatt (4:29)
3. Kenneth Leverich (4:39)
1. Josh Bridges (21)
2. Kenneth Leverich (34)
3. Wes Piatt (69)
Event 7, with its heavy squat cleans, played in Valenzuela’s favor.
However, it wouldn’t be an easy victory. To win, Valenzuela would have to fight off a determined Voigt, who had ruled the SoCal Leaderboard all weekend.
In the first round, it seemed like Voigt had a win locked down. By the second round of cleans, Voigt was comfortably in first, followed by Valenzuela, Allison Truscheit, and Valerie Voboril.
It was at the end of round two that Valenzuela made her move.
Once she pulled ahead, Valenzuela maintained her lead until the end. She worked through the last four 135-lb. squat cleans one at a time to finish in 4:33, the fastest time yet for a woman in this event.
Valenzuela said this was her favorite workout of the weekend, and not because she won.
“It was the shortest one,” she said with a laugh.
Voigt finished in second, with a time of 4:50, and Voboril took third in the event (finishing in 5:08), as well as third overall.
Kristan Clever fought through her injury on this final event, and managed to pull through with a fifth-place finish. She held her injured right arm to her chest after the workout, having trouble signing her scorecard. As a past Games champion, as well as an impressive performance that proves she can compete with the best, Clever received an invitation to compete in the 2013 Games, despite her fourth place overall finish within the region.
Voboril, who admitted at the beginning of the weekend that she was nervous about living up to last year’s performance, said her third-place finish feels great.
“But I'm torn between being super excited, and thinking that I have to work hard again,” she said.
Valenzuela said she was worried going into the weekend because the majority of the events featured lightweight.
“I wanted to have fun and keep it enthusiastic,” she said, “but get into (the right) mind frame and not worry about anyone else except for myself.”
This will be Voigt’s sixth trip to the Games.
She reflected on past competitions after the event. “Regionals has changed so much,” she said, comparing this year to the early days.
“For example, I'm not running out to an outhouse in the middle of a field to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes. But really, this venue is amazing, and the fan base has grown so much,” Voigt said.
"Tomorrow I'm just going to rest, recap — and eat a lot of junk food. Tomorrow is definitely a cheat day!"
1. Lindsey Valenzuela (4:33)
2. Rebecca Voigt (4:50)
3. Valerie Voboril (5:08)
1. Lindsey Valenzuela (17)
2. Rebecca Voigt (18)
3. Valerie Voboril (23)
The top three teams didn’t change after the final event, even after Brick Nation struggled with the heavy squat clean-rope climb couplet and tied for 11th, their lowest placing of the competition.
The three teams from the SoCal region going to the 2013 CrossFit Games are Invictus, Team CDR Redlands, and Brick Nation — all Games veterans.
Heavy squat cleans and rope climbs at the end of a competition is fiendish programming. With their grip worn and their legs fatigued, the team athletes had to muster up their courage to take on these two challenging movements.
In the final heat of team Event 7, the race was on between CDR Redlands, Invictus, and CrossFit 760. All three teams traded the first position throughout the event, while Brick Nation, who was third overall at the beginning of the event, struggled with the squat cleans.
During the final female leg, CDR Redlands pulled ahead and sprinted to the finish line where the rest of the team made a bridge for her to run under. They finished first in 15:14.
Nichole DeHart held on to Invictus' lead over CrossFit 760 until the final rep of squat cleans when she was “no-repped.” This opened up a small space for CrossFit 760 to squeeze by. The female team member completed her cleans and sprinted to the line finishing just seconds ahead of Invictus, with a time of 15:41.
Invictus finished the event in third, with a time of 15:54. Invictus teammate Shane Farmer said the battle against CDR Redlands felt very familiar.
“We battled all weekend against CDR Redlands for the last two years and there was never any ‘easy’ workout. All of the other teams were so amazing and were able to just push us all weekend long, and that's what makes it so special — to be surrounded by amazing teams."
Calvin Davis of CDR Redlands said his team won’t spend the next few months glued to other region’s leaderboards.
“We're not paying attention to any other teams,” Davis said. “We've only got eyes on ourselves, and eyes on having a good time! We have to focus on our team."
Davis said their top priority during the weekend was to have fun. And now that it’s over?
“We're going to celebrate with pizza and beer – right now!” Davis said.
Madelyn Curley said she’ll be assuming a position of leadership as the team heads to the Games.
“(I’m) the only one on this team that has been to the Games before. It's fun to be in that leadership role,” she said. “It's great to see how excited they are to pick out clothes and all that exciting stuff that happens now. I think that me having been to the Games before will definitely be an advantage to our team. I'll be able to give a lot of pointers,” she said.
As for what’s next for Brick, it’s back to work.
"I doubt we'll take much time off after this weekend. Maybe a day? We all love working out together though, so we wouldn't be out of the gym long anyways!" Curley said.
1. Team CDR Redlands (15:14)
2. CrossFit 760 (15:41)
3. Invictus (15:54)
1. Invictus (17)
2. Team CDR Redlands (19)
3. Brick Nation (34)