While heavy thunderstorms drenched the streets of San Antonio, Texas, the mats inside the Freeman Coliseum were drenched in nothing but sweat. The morning’s long chipper left most competitors feeling drained, but to finish the day, they would take on a heavy couplet of deadlifts and box jumps.
On the team side, Event 5 included a tie for the win and a comfortable third place.
Amid the largest crowd ever for a South Central Regional, individual athletes had only 90 reps standing between them and an ice bath. Competitors took advantage, their primary objective: all-out speed. While the women impressed with their resilience, it would be the men who put on the best show of the day, pounding out reps and offering the most exciting and fast-paced contest of the weekend thus far.
Deadlifts are a funny thing. On one hand, they are one of the most impressive showcases of raw power and strength. On the other, they can also be a window to raw emotion and vulnerability. At 315 lb., the weight for the afternoon couplet would start off as an easy pull for many of the male athletes. The real challenge came as they continued to pull the weight as fast as possible while battling through fatigue. As the men struggled to remain efficient, it became abundantly clear by the looks on their faces that many had hit a wall as the cardio-intensive box jumps began to take their toll.
The first of four heats started off steady, but left room for improvement for the remaining competitors. While none of the first competitors managed to break the 4-minute mark, Jeremy Brannon, of Imperium CrossFit, left a solid time on the floor of 4:40.
Heat 2 followed with a race between Crocket Ladd, a tall and powerful figure, and Kirk Victorian, a compact, yet impressive individual who has been dominating his heat in previous events. While Ladd found advantage on the box jumps, Victorian managed to push past him with endurance and incredible power. In the end, he edged out Ladd but fell short of Brannon’s performance, finishing at 5:13.
With Heat 3 ready to vie for the fastest time of the day, “Harlem Shake” began to blast out of the speakers. Before long, Hunter Owen emerged as the “guy in the alien costume” who you couldn’t help but watch. As he pulled further and further ahead of the pack, a new top score appeared inevitable. Owen sprinted to his finishing mat leaving most of the men still muscling through their set of 15 deadlifts. The new time to beat was 4:33.
Finally, the region’s top 12 fittest men assembled to complete Event 5. Right from the start, familiar face and 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor, Jason Hoggan, took to the front of the pack. He repped out unbroken deadlifts for all three sets and impressed with effortless rebounding box jumps. Three minutes and 29 seconds later, he was done.
“In 2011, I did well on that workout,” Hoggan said. “I won it in the Mid Atlantic … I knew it was still a strength. I especially needed that going into today. I needed a good couple of workouts to get near the top again, and I feel like I did that.”
Rounding out the top three were Aja Barto and Paul Smith competing rep-for-rep, until the last seconds. Ultimately, Barto’s ability to stay light on his feet and rebound through his final nine reps allowed him to secure second place with a time of 4:13. Mike McGoldrick snuck up on the action, finishing in third with a time of 4:15.
The women prepared to lift 205 lb., 45 times, as efficiently as possible. While competitors strove for unbroken glory, the event became an eight-minute battle to keep the work as manageable as possible for many.
One woman who made the weight look insubstantial, though, was Veronica Pike, of CSC CrossFit, who set the time to beat for the remainder of the pack at 3:34. Her challengers arrived in Heat 2 and Jessie Joe Young fought to defeat her. While Young beat the others in her heat, she wasn’t faster than Pike, completing the event in 4:03. After comparing Pike’s stunning performance to the rest of the competitors, doubt began to arise as to whether or not the remaining women of the South Central could inch any closer to the world record set last weekend in the North East region by Erin Clancy at 3:07.
Going into the final heat, all doubt faded as heavyweights Holly Mata, Jenn Jones and Candice Ruiz took to the starting position. Ruiz was the first female competitor to her box after the 21 deadlifts and the 24-inch jumps that followed did little to slow her pace. With challengers on her heels, she pushed through and returned quickly to her bar.
Going into Event 5, Ruiz knew this would be her biggest chance to perform and was prepared to take advantage of the repeat workout from the 2011 Regional.
“I know that it’s strength for me. I’m good at this combination. I just wanted to go 10, every time I drop the bar, rest for three seconds, and get right back on it. This seemed to work out for me. I got third the last time I did it [at the 2011 South Central Regional].”
In addition to experience, Ruiz had one other advantage during Event 5.
“My home crowd was right in front of me, screaming their heads off, so that was pretty good,” she added.
Ruiz earned the best time of the day with 3:22, followed by Veronica Pike at 3:34 and Jessica Malone with 3:38.
Event 5 moved swiftly for the South Central’s top teams as they raced to the finish in the short, brutal mash-up of deadlifts and box jumps. The first heat of team competition saw CrossFit EaDo set the pace with an opening top time of 8:59. Competitors faced the strategic, and in some cases, skill-based decision of whether or not to attempt rebounding box jumps. For many of those who did, it proved advantageous; for others, though, it proved to be a little tricky resulting in a few toppling boxes and ice packs for bruised shins.
Ultimately, fierce competition in the second heat of the day would result in a neck-and-neck race that resulted in a dead tie for the top score. CrossFit Deep and Team CrossFit Kemah battled from the get-go as their male competitors went rep-for-rep completing their portion within seconds of each other. That left the real excitement up to the women of their teams. While CrossFit Deep appeared slightly stronger on the deadlifts, Kemah more than made up ground with explosive box jumps. In the end, the women sprinted to their finish mats arriving in unison.
Regarding her team’s top performance, CrossFit Deep’s Lindsay Marshall attributed the win to her teammate and supporters.
“I felt our guy really carried the team,” Marshall said. “He went out of the gate super-fast . . . My box is all here to support me, the place where I coach at, and that really helped me, too.”
While CrossFit Deep and Kemah had a photo finish for first place with a time of 8:11, Get Lifted rounded out the top-three performances of the event when team competitors Tammy McDonald and Nick LaMantia dominated the final heat of team action with a time of 08:14.