Voboril, Voigt, Fisher, Leverich, Bridges and Bailey will represent Southern California at the CrossFit Games.
First the 2013 CrossFit Games champion, Sam Briggs, missed qualifying for the 2014 Games at the Europe Regional. Then, at the SoCal Regional, Lindsey Valenzuela—who finished second at the 2013 Games—finished the weekend in fourth, nine points behind newcomer Lauren Fisher.
Valerie Voboril is the only woman on the podium at the 2013 Games to return in 2014. She won the SoCal Regional decisively, sitting in first place throughout most of the weekend. In second place is Becca Voigt, making her seventh trip the Games, the most of any woman to date.
They switched places over the three days of competition, but the same three SoCal men stayed at the top the entire time: Kenneth Leverich (first), Josh Bridges (second) and Dan Bailey (third). All three are Games veterans, but only Bridges has made the podium at the Games—he placed second in 2011.
“I’ve had a couple of hiccups the past two years, but I’m feeling healthy this year, so I’m really pushing to prove my athleticism,” Leverich said after his overall win. “Now that I’m feeling good, I really want to show people how well I can compete against the top guys.”
Leverich said he has no predictions for the Games. “I’m just really happy and extremely grateful,” he said.
Dan Bailey said he’s excited to return to the Games, even though he’s disappointed in his finish in the last event. He took 21st.
“With the Games this year and the programming, you never know,” Bailey said. “The minute you think one thing, they do another. But I won’t reveal what I’m hoping to see, so that any listening ears don’t hear!” he said with a laugh.
A long grinder like the 50s would seem to favor the smaller athlete, but it was 205 lb. Josh Golden, competing in the second-to-last heat, who won with a time of 21:05, four calories away from finishing the last 50-calorie row.
“It was really tough,” Golden said, “but I knew it was going to be a good one for me. Best one out of the whole weekend! I like the long workouts,” he said.
Josh Bridges took second on Event 6, and Dan Bailey took third. The event did not change the overall standings: Kenneth Leverich remained in first, Bailey second, and Bridges third.
In the third heat, Golden kept a steady pace throughout, breaking up all his movements into manageable reps, never resting for more than five or 10 seconds at a time. After working his way through the up-and-down ladder of movements, Golden arrived back at his rower with two minutes to spare. He rowed 45 calories with the crowd urging him to complete the row before the 21-minute time cap.
In the final heat, Josh Bridges started off in the middle of the pack, but by the time he finished the ring dips he had pulled away from second-place Bailey and third-place Leverich.
The ring dips marked the halfway point of Event 6, before athletes had to turn around and go through another 50 reps of the wall balls, deadlifts, box jump overs and a 50-calorie row.
“I knew where I wanted to be at after the ring dips, but I didn’t actually look up to see if I was on pace or not. But I think I was,” Bridges said after the event.
Keeping his lead over Bailey, Bridges slowed down his pace on the box jump overs. After the event he said this was intentional.
“With my box jumps, I played it really safe; I didn’t want to hurt myself,” Bridges said. “I knew I was ahead of everyone so I didn’t really push the box jumps that hard.”
Bridges made it back to the rower with just over two minutes remaining and rowed 44 calories, just one less than Golden for a second place finish at 21:06. Dan Bailey held on for third in the event at 21:29.
“My pec is a little tight from the ring dips but the next event should be a good one,” Golden said.
Unlike other events, Bridges said he wasn’t going for a record on this one. “Going into the event, I didn’t know the record time (Brent Fikowski, Canada West, 20:21); I just wanted to finish,” he said.
Event 6 Results
1. Josh Golden (21:05)
2. Josh Bridges (21:06)
3. Dan Bailey (21:19)
This event, 64 pull-ups and eight 205-lb. overhead squats, goes quickly—blink and you might miss it.
Coming off of the pull-up bar first and second, Tommy Pease and Dan Bailey walked over to the barbell, both clean and jerking the weight overhead. Soon, the rest of the heat joined them at the barbell.
Bridges worked easily through the overhead squats, but before Bridges finished Bryan Miller rushed to the finish mat. Although Miller wasn’t first to the overhead squats, once he got to the barbell Miller snatched it smoothly and completed eight quick overhead squats, finishing in 1:48.
“I was definitely trying to win the event,” Miller said afterward. “I knew I had a good time in practice and I wanted to finish on a good note. My strategy was to just go until I felt like I had to drop on the pull ups, rested a little bit and do the overhead squats unbroken.”
A few seconds after Miller, Bridges and Pease ran to their mats. Bridges took second with a time of 1:54, finishing just one second ahead of Pease at 1:55.
Bailey was the first to the barbell, but the last to finish in the heat. Fatigued, he lost control as he tried to stand up with the 205 lb. barbell. His struggle cost him more than a minute, and many placings. He eventually finished his last squat and stepped on the mat at 3:06 for 21st place.
Though this would be Bailey's lowest finish of the weekend, it wasn't low enough to bump him off of the podium. He dropped from second overall to third, and still finished 14 points ahead of Pease to secure the final spot to Carson.
Event 7 Results
1. Bryan Miller (1:48)
2. Josh Bridges (1:54)
3. Tommy Pease (1:55)
Top 10 Overall
1. Kenneth Leverich (31)
2. Josh Bridges (36)
3. Dan Bailey (51)
4. Tommy Pease (65)
5. Ryan Fischer (71)
6. Taylor Yaffee (79)
7. Michael Hernandez (91)
8. Chad Melton (94)
9. Bryan Miller (96)
10. Wayne Willette (99)
Becca Voigt had one thing on her mind—she wanted to be the first to compete in seven consecutive CrossFit Games. To meet her goal, she had to stay focused.
“I haven’t been on Twitter or Facebook and haven’t been watching any of the regional stuff,” Voigt said at the beginning of Day 3. “I refuse,” she said. “I have to stay focused on what I can control and I can’t control any of that what-if stuff.”
There was nothing what-if about Voigt’s performance in Event 6. She won with a time of 21:35, followed closely behind by Lindsey Valenzuela in second. Third place went to a woman in the second-to-last heat, Shanon Humphrey.
Coming off the first row at the same time as many women in her heat, Humphrey opened up a lead on the first set of box jump overs and never looked back. With only 15 seconds left on the clock, Humphrey completed her box jump overs and sprinted back to the rower, but was unable to complete one calorie in time. She finished third in the event at 21:50.
“My plan was to just keep moving and I just kept in my head to give 100%,” Humphrey said, “which is what I tell my three boys all of the time. No matter what place you are in, just give your all and you’ll be fine.”
In the final heat, Valenzuela came out on the floor with a look of determination. She was ready to close the seven-point gap between herself and third place Voigt.
Lauren Fisher was in the lead until she got to the ring dips. Voigt and Valenzuela completed sets of three or more dips at a time, while Fisher started off with singles. Both Voigt and Valenzuela were able to pass Fisher and move on to the second set of wall balls at around 12 minutes.
Voigt broke the wall balls into sets of ten, never letting the ball touch the ground in between sets by resting it on her thighs, passing Valenzuela and holding onto the lead from then on. Through the deadlifts and box jump overs Voigt stayed ten reps ahead of Valenzuela.
Both women made it back on to the rower, but Voigt was able to pull more calories, ending with a first place in the event at 21:35. Valenzuela followed close behind at 21:42 for second place in the event.
After the event, Voigt said she won by sticking to her plan.
“My strategy was just to play my own game,” Voigt said. “Everyone was going to come off the rower with a vengeance and I knew I couldn’t do that, just because I knew the box jumps would be slower for me. So everything went according to plan.”
Event 6 Results
1. Rebecca Voigt (21:35)
2. Lindsey Valenzuela (21:42)
3. Shanon Humphrey (21:50)
Lindsey Valenzuela needed a miracle.
To make it to the Games, not only would Valenzuela have to win Event 7, she would have to beat Lauren Fisher by six points. Val Voboril had a lock on first place, but the fourth grade teacher and mother wasn’t going to take it easy. She won the event with a time of 2:13, and Fisher came in second. Jamie Hagiya took third, but it wasn’t enough for her to take one of the top three spots.
Like she did all weekend, Voboril dominated this event. In most of the heats, the first person to the overhead squats was not the event winner. Voboril broke that trend. Going into the overhead squats, Voboril was more than 30 seconds ahead of the field. With her signature smile, she cranked out seven unbroken reps and finished her regional off with a first place in the final event, which would secure her first place on the podium.
After her pull-ups, Fisher walked to the barbell, clean and jerked the bar overhead, then completed her overhead squats unbroken. Her second place finish in the event secured her third place spot on the podium. This will be Fisher's first trip to the Games as an individual; she was part of Invictus' team last year.
“Hopefully next week, my brother Garret will make the podium,” Fisher said, “and we will be the first brother-sister individuals competing together at the Games. I’m really looking forward to doing that with him.”
Becca Voigt hit the mat fourth in the event at 2:35, finishing second overall this weekend. Though Valenzuela put up a valiant fight, she couldn't do enough to surpass Fisher and make it on to the podium.
Looking back on the weekend, Voboril said she enjoyed the three days of competition.
“I feel like the programming this weekend wasn’t set to try to destroy people and I think it tested people really well. Usually I feel more destroyed after regionals then I do with the Games and this year, I don’t feel quite destroyed. Which makes me worried about what they will do at the Games!” Voboril said.
Event 7 Results
1. Valerie Voboril (2:13)
2. Lauren Fisher (2:26)
3. Jamie Hagiya (2:31)
Top 10 Overall
1. Valerie Voboril (21)
2. Rebecca Voigt (29)
3. Lauren Fisher (30)
4. Lindsey Valenzuela (39)
5. Jamie Hagiya (44)
6. Chelsey Grigsby (67)
7. Meaghan Galindo (75)
8. Melissa Popovich (77)
9. Rachel Serna (84)
10. Carlie Stone (88)