The race for the elusive 400th rep was tough in SoCal on Event 4.
On the second day of the Southern California Regional, the Del Mar Fairgrounds was also hosting the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.
Given CrossFit athletes’ propensity for walking around shirtless, this wouldn’t be the only gun show at the venue today.
The big news of the morning, however, was Andrea Ager’s decision to withdraw from competition.
Yesterday, Ager failed to make three consecutive overhead squats at 175 lb., but remained in the competition because Head Judge Adrian Bozman incorrectly stated in the athlete briefing that there was no minimum work requirement for Event 2.
After thinking about it overnight, Ager decided to bow out of the competition.
“I like to compare myself with Shana Alverson,” Ager said of the South East competitor who had to withdraw after failing to overhead squat 175 lb.
“I feel like we are both fighting for podium spots and she did not get the chance to move on today, and I feel like that should be the same across the board. No matter what, I would have started with 175 lb. for my overhead squats. I should have been able to overhead squat 175 lb. Today is really hard for me,” she said.
The athletes faced an intimidating chipper for the first event of the day that consisted of 100 wall balls, 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 100 one-legged squats (pistols) and 100 one-arm dumbbell snatches. The sheer number of reps was a test of the athletes’ pacing strategy as well as how well they recovered from day one.
Mindful of the events ahead, athletes had to be careful not to rip their hands on the 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups, while still staying competitive in this notoriously tough region.
Event 4 felt like 2011 all over again.
That year, Josh Bridges astonished the crowd with a record performance on the 100s workout.
This morning, Bridges still owned the event from start to finish, winning with a time of 21:01.
If any man in another region wants to beat him, they’ll have to work for it.
In the earlier heats, Wes Piatt of CrossFit Inferno finished the snatch workout in second overall at 22:32. Another surprise was CrossFit Pacific Beach’s Greg Kuchan. He started CrossFit a few months ago — at the beginning of the 2013 Open — and finished this event just ahead of Bill Grundler, nine reps shy of completing all 400 reps.
Though Leverich gave Bridges a bit of a challenge on the pistols, it was the Bridges show from start to finish in the final heat.
Taylor Yaffee came off the wall balls at the exact same time as Bridges, but Bridges opened with 40 butterfly pull-ups while Yaffee broke them into smaller sets.
Although Bridges got “no-repped” three times in a row on his first 10 reps of the dumbbell snatches, he kept chipping away. At Bridges' 30th rep, Head Judge Adrian Bozman came over to clarify that Bridges could not pause during his pull off the ground. Immediately following, all of Bridges' reps were clean.
Bridges said his strategy for winning was to keep moving and take small breaks.
“That's all I kept thinking once I was on the dumbbell snatches,” he says. “This was definitely a mental workout — anything over five or six minutes is mental.”
Bridges now sits in first place overall, a solid nine points ahead of second-placed Kenneth Leverich.
The come-from-behind story of Event 4, however, was Ryan Fischer of Orange Coast CrossFit.
Fischer fell behind the pack on the wall balls and pull-ups, but burned through the 100 pistols and caught up to the pack, even managing to pass Leverich on the snatches.
“When I was doing those dumbbell snatches, all I could think about was (a) card that I got this morning,” Fischer says.
The card, from his friend Joe Garcia, read, “You have the strength to beat this — but we're here if you need a spotter. Leave no doubt."
“It just kept repeating in my head. It was really cool and meant a lot to me,” Fischer said.
Fischer placed second in this event with a time of 22:39, securing fifth place overall.
Event 4 was when Val Voboril made her move.
This teacher — who was grading papers in between events yesterday — took first place with a time of 23:27 in an event that rewarded strategy and consistency. This morning’s win bumped her up to first place overall.
She’ll have to work to hold onto that spot though — there’s only a single point separating first-placed Voboril, from Lindsey Valenzuela and Rebecca Voigt after the first event of the second day.
Only two women, Voboril and Voigt, were able to finish under the 25-minute time cap.
Randi Slusser, of CrossFit Rancho Cucamonga, won her heat but ended up tearing her hands during the event.
“In a big chipper, I just always try to not stop,” Slusser says. “My hands are bleeding all over the place, but at that point in a workout like that, you just can't stop. You just have to keep going.”
In the final heat, Voigt started off strong on the wall balls by never letting go of her ball. She rested it on her thighs and bent over, holding the ball between her chest and legs.
From the crowd, Katie Hogan, a former Valley girl herself and current NorCal Regional competitor, cheered for Voigt.
“She probably doesn't put the ball down so it feels like she’s not breaking the reps up so much. It is a good mental strategy!" Hogan says.
Voboril took the lead on the pull-ups, stringing together multiple sets of butterflies. At rep 77, Voboril took a few seconds to chalk up and pull a callous off of her hand. She quickly got back on the bar and finished 20 reps ahead of Voigt.
However, it was the dumbbell snatches that became the deciding factor for the ladies in Event 4.
Voigt made a run for Voboril in the last 20 reps, but couldn't catch her. Voigt finished second with a time of 23:34, seven seconds behind Voboril’s 23:27.
"My hands are OK,” Voigt said after the event. “I have some blood on them but I don't think it's mine. That's kind of gross.”
Towards the end of the event, Voboril adjusted her initial strategy.
"I was hoping for sets of 10 for the dumbbell snatch, but ended up with sets of five. I knew that was OK as long as I just kept moving,” Voboril says. “Once I saw (Voigt) step onto the dumbbell snatch mat, I knew she was on my trail. It definitely pushed me — I would have not done that many snatches in a row,” she says with a laugh.
Lindsey Valenzuela was not able to finish under the time cap, taking fourth place after a surprise third-place finish from Danielle Hale.
The warm-up area prior to Event 4 was a traffic jam of athletes rowing, practicing pull-ups and throwing around dumbbells. In this event, each team member had to complete 30 wall balls, 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 30 pistols and 30 one-arm dumbbell snatches.
As with Events 2 and 3, this team event involved all six team members, which meant each team was only as fast as their slowest teammate.
Mike Tromello of Precision CrossFit dislocated his elbow on the overhead squat event yesterday, and he thought he might have to withdraw. However, after receiving medical clearance to compete, Tromello was back in the game.
He showed no signs of injury during the event, muscle-snatching the 70-lb. dumbbell and helping his team finish the event in 19:50, winning the first heat.
“My elbow hurts,” Tromello said after the event. “The adrenaline wound up being enough, and I got through it. Hopefully it'll be OK for the rest of the weekend.”
All but six teams of the 27 left in competition finished under the 25-minute time cap, with the 30 chest to bar pull-ups stalling out a few of the women.
When the teams at the top of the Leaderboard took to the competition floor in the final heat, Amanda Douglas of Brick Nation walked out wearing a bright orange tutu.
“I like to warm up with it,” Douglas said about the tutu.
She put function before fashion, deciding to take off the tutu so it wouldn’t obscure her hip crease during the wall balls.
Douglas didn’t need any accessories to stand out during this event.
Her gutsy performance on the dumbbell snatches helped Brick Nation secure a first-place finish with a time of 15:38, the fastest time so far for any team in Event 4.
The men of Brick Nation took an early lead, with Invictus close on their heels. While the men were completing the snatches, Maddy Curley of Brick Nation did the wall balls and chest to bar pull-ups unbroken. She moved so quickly she had to wait for her teammates to catch up before starting her pistols and dumbbell snatches.
Brick's initial lead was cut down briefly by a charging Nichole DeHart of Invictus, igniting the Invictus spectators, who chanted “IN-VIC-TUS, IN-VIC-TUS.”
The race came down to the last woman on each team. Douglas pulled ahead during the snatches as she passed the dumbbell from the top of the rep to her other hand, helping her start her next rep more quickly.
“All I could hear around me during those final dumbbell snatches was the crowd,” Douglas said after the event. “The gym was cheering so hard, and I couldn't hear myself. I could just hear the crowd, and I knew that I had to just push through. I knew that I would pass out before I quit.”