In the 2014 Regional season, nothing is guaranteed.
Games veterans Samantha Briggs, Stacie Tovar and Graham Holmberg missed qualifying in previous weekend’s regional competitions, opening up spots for new athletes at the Games this year.
The outcome of the previous weeks’ regionals were likely on the mind of former Games competitors who showed up on Day 1 of the SoCal Regional.
A missed snatch, a fumble on the handstand walk, or a failed muscle-up could ruin an athlete’s chance at qualifying for the Games. This afternoon in Del Mar, there was no room for error.
On the men’s side, the best performance belonged to Kenneth Leverich. He started out the day in the second-to-last heat, but showcased impressive strength, gymnastic ability and all-around athletic prowess to finish the day in first. Dan Bailey, a transplant from the Central East region, is close behind in second place.
The top two spots for the women were occupied by experienced veterans Valerie Voboril and Becca Voigt, but a new name is in third place: 20-year-old college student Lauren Fisher, competing for the first time as an individual. She’ll have to hold off Lindsey Valenzuela and hungry-for-a-shot Jamie Hagiya if she wants to remain in the top three over the next two days.
Spectators didn’t have to wait long to see big weight go overhead.
In Event 1, the one-rep-max hang snatch, the men in the early heats showed they could hang with some of CrossFit’s best, with Andrew Kong hitting 275 lb. in the second heat. Only four other men would lift that same weight: Wayne Willette, Leverich, Bryan Miller and Tory Morgan. No other man matched that lift, and the event ended in a five-way tie for first.
In the final heat, Dan Bailey opened with 245 lb., dropping under the bar quickly and standing up easily. Next, Bailey successfully got under 255 lb., smiling widely as he completed the lift, but failed falling forward with his final lift of 265 lb. Josh Bridges worked through 225 lb. and 240 lb. to finish Event 1 with an easy, quick snatch at 250 lb., while Ryan Fischer fought back from a no-rep on his first lift at 235 lb. to finish with a successful third lift at 260 lb.
Sporting a shirt with “The Chad” on the back, Chad Melton opened with 235 lb., made his second lift at 255 lb. and then loaded his bar with 270 lb. This weight was not a sure thing for him—he had failed at that weight a number of times in warm up earlier in day. Melton put his hands on the bar, got the weight to the hang position, and pulled the weight overhead. For a moment he struggled at the bottom of the snatch, but then got control and stood up with the bar securely locked out overhead.
“I decided to just go for it and I got a five-lb. PR from the hang,” Melton said after the event. “The adrenaline got me through it!”
On the max distance handstand walk, Paul Castaneda was the only man to finish three lengths of the floor. Holding a slow, but steady pace, Willette held on for two and a half lengths, proving not only could he move heavy weight, but could also shine on a bodyweight movement.
In the final heat, Tommy Pease went at a fast pace, circling his airborne legs in a bicycle motion to keep his balance. When the horn sounded for the end of the event, Pease hopped up off of his hands and shouted triumphantly at his fans.
After a 275 lb. snatch and a 280-foot handstand walk in Events 1 and 2, Willette held the top spot on the leaderboard.
“I was definitely aware of what was going on around me,” Willette said. “I didn’t worry too much about everyone’s opening lifts but after that, I tried to one-up them by 5 lb. On the third lift, I decided to just reach and go for a PR (by 5 lb.).”
“I’ve been doing handstand walks since high school so when it came up in CrossFit, I was like ‘Awesome! I already have these!’” he said.
Event 1 Results
1T. Andrew Kong, Bryan Miller, Kenneth Leverich, Tory Morgan, and Wayne Willette (275 lb.)
6. Chad Melton (270 lb.)
7T. Paul Castenada, Ryan Fischer, and Roy Voss (260 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Tommy Pease (320 feet)
2T. Basile Beaty (320 feet)
2T. Dan Bailey (300 feet)
Kenneth Leverich wanted into the final heat.
The three-time Games competitor spent Day 1 in the second-to-last heat, but a fifth place finish in Event 3, Nasty Girls V2, put Leverich in first place overall at the end of Day 1. Tomorrow, he will get to compete alongside the rest of the leaders in the final heat.
On Nasty Girls V2, Leverich was the clear winner of his heat, moving smoothly up and down on his pistols and completing all of his muscle-ups unbroken.
“I knew the event held some movements that I was comfortable with but honestly, you never really know until you’re on the field,” Leverich said.
“Your performance changes every day, so I just tried to stay consistent through the whole workout and just focus on pushing hard and not getting comfortable with slowing down,” he said.
In the last heat, Josh Bridges took an early lead, followed closely by Dan Bailey. Wearing matching gray Rogue shirts, Bridges and Bailey ran back-and-forth between the rings and the barbell. Following right behind was Ronnie Teasdale, shirtless in his trademark slit-up-the-sides jean shorts.
Bridges maintained his lead over Bailey with faster transitions and more rapid pistols, slowing only when he dropped the bar after eight of his last ten cleans. Even with that short break, Bridges won the event with a time of 7:01, breaking Rich Froning’s world record by 20 seconds. Bailey followed Bridges at 7:10, also breaking Froning’s former record.
“I was definitely excited about this workout, with my shorter legs for the pistols and all. I just wanted to go out and beat (Bailey) and beat the rest of the field,” Bridges said.
At the end of Day 1, Bridges said he was glad to have these events finished.
“I’m excited for the rest of the workouts,” he said.
Event 3 Results
1. Josh Bridges (7:01)
2. Dan Bailey (7:10)
3. Ronnie Teasdale (7:25)
1. Kenneth Leverich (14)
2. Dan Bailey (15)
3. Tommy Pease (23)
4. Josh Bridges (24)
5. Ryan Fischer (26)
6. Andrew Kong (31)
7. Michael Hernandez (31)
8. Wayne Willette (35)
9. Tory Morgan (35)
10. Chad Melton (37)
Just like with the men, the heaviest weights were snatched in the final heats.
Anne Marie May, a first-time regional competitor who finished top 15 in the region in the Open, snatched only the barbell during her first attempt. She injured her shoulder in warm up, but came on to the floor to cheer for the other ladies and stay in the game.
In Heat 3, Katie Crowe loaded her bar slowly, taking her time to prep, then hit every attempt she went for, ending at 175 lb., throwing the bar down and cheering triumphantly when she made the lift.
In the final heat, Valenzuela, Fisher and Meaghan Galindo waited until the clock started to tell their judge their opening weights, preventing other coaches watching in the stands to signal to their competitors. With only three attempts, the starting weight was a crucial strategic decision.
Jamie Hagiya and Valenzuela opened the heaviest, both starting with 165 lb.. From then on, Hagiya and Valenzuela matched lift for lift, moving up to 175 lb. and then 185 lb.. On her final lift, Hagiya put her hands on the bar, set up and flipped her long ponytail back as she raised her head, a signature move she calls the “Hagiya Hair Whip,” then snatched the 185-lb. bar with ease.
Then it was Valenzuela’s turn. Snatching 185 lb. from the high hang, Valenzuela got the bar overhead, but lost control as she stood up, and stumbled off the platform.
Hagiya was thrilled with her first place finish.
“I hit 185 lb. in training, so that was a tied PR,” Hagiya said. “In the warm up, I wasn’t consistent, so when I went out there, I had to really focus and believe in myself.”
Event 2, the handstand walk, was an opportunity for athletes who did not do as well as they hoped in Event 1 to redeem themselves.
Danielle Hale, who finished in the top 10 in the region last year, missed all three of her attempts at 145 lb., but took third in the handstand walk, covering 245 feet.
Taking a measured, moderate pace, Becca Voigt walked two lengths plus another 20 feet, finishing just ten feet behind former gymnast Ashley Hegner. Voigt finished well enough in Events 1 and 2 to take first place overall.
After winning Event 1, Hagiya got 19th place in Event 2, walking 70 feet on her hands. She was thrilled.
“I’m proud that I got 70 feet because in practice, I’ve only been hitting 40 feet,” Hagiya said. “So that’s a PR!”
“I really happy about the next event coming up!" Hagiya said about Event 3, Nasty Girls V2.
Event 1 Results
1. Jamie Hagiya (185 lb.)
2T. Katie Crowe (175 lb.)
2T. Lindsey Valenzuela (175 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Ashlee Hegner (270 ft.)
2. Rebecca Voigt (260 ft.)
3. Danielle Hale (245 ft.)
Nasty Girls V2 began as a race between Hagiya and Valenzuela, but Hagiya quickly took the lead with quick and efficient pistols almost two times faster than any other woman. Hagiya was the first to the rings for her first seven muscle-ups, followed closely by Valenzuela.
In the second round, Voboril, a consistent athlete who typically does well on gymnastics movements, began to make her move. Fisher slowly worked her way into third place, stringing together seven unbroken muscle-ups in the second round.
But no woman could match Hagiya’s pistols. She finished her last 50 one-legged squats and then completed muscle-ups in a set of three, two, and then two singles, finishing in first with a time of 7:48, smiling and waving at the crowd when she stepped on the mat.
As Hagiya finished, Valenzuela, Voboril and Fisher started on their last muscle-ups. Voboril made it off the rings and through ten unbroken cleans first, finishing in second with a time of 8:44. Fisher moved past Valenzuela, who was struggling on her final few muscle-ups, grabbing the fourth place spot. After multiple failed attempts, Valenzuela got her last muscle-up, completed her cleans unbroken, jumped over her bar and finished in 10:21. Visibly shaken, Valenzuela took a few moments alone to collect herself, then stood on the sidelines and cheered for the rest of the ladies in the final heat.
Voboril’s second place finish put her in first place overall at the end of Day 1.
“I was nervous—I’m nervous all of the time,” Voboril said about Event 3. “I expect the worst and then I’m really pleased with the better.”
“I just tried to remind myself that I could do all of the movements. My pistols and muscle-ups have been inconsistent during training, but today I was consistent and smooth. I got only one no rep and the rest went very smoothly.”
Voboril was more optimistic about the events coming up on Day 2. “I like the short, fast ones,” she said. “So I’m looking forward to the rope climb workout."
Event 3 Results
1. Jamie Hagiya (7:48)
2. Valerie Voboril (8:44)
3. Shanon Humphrey (8:56)
1. Valerie Voboril (13)
2. Rebecca Voigt (14)
3. Lauren Fisher (15)
4. Lindsey Valenzuela (16)
5. Jamie Hagiya (21)
6. Pam Eamranond (27)
7. Ashlee Hegner (28)
8. Meaghan Galindo (30)
9. Carlie Stone (33)
10. Chelsey Grigsby (34)