"The race is in the thrusters and pull-ups for time, so the row doesn't matter."
Every year, the athletes in our sport get better and the competition stiffens, with a blend of new faces and grizzled veterans all vying for a spot on the podium.
On the men’s side, last year’s Games qualifiers Bryan Diaz, Jason Hoggan and Aja Barto are back for more. The same can’t be said for last year’s female qualifiers. Azadeh Boroumand, dominant in 2012, elected not to compete this year while third-place finisher Kelley Hennigan decided to go team. However, Candice Ruiz is back and looking for a repeat performance after a strong Open showing.
Staying with the women, Amanda Schwartz missed out on the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games by a mere two points and has eyes for the podium. She’ll have her hands full with Games veteran Jenn Jones, a transplant from the Mid Atlantic Region, who looks to continue her Open supremacy at the Regional level.
CrossFit Dallas Central, Bayou City CrossFit and Team CrossFit Central rose above the pack in 2012 to qualify in the affiliate competition. All three return solid teams comprised of experienced veterans, but with several competitors choosing team this year, their places on the podium are hardly guaranteed.
Event 1 asked athletes to tackle a classic CrossFit workout: Jackie. It’s straight-forward stuff — 1,000-meter row, 50 thrusters with a 45-lb. barbell and 30 pull-ups. But looks can be deceiving, as any CrossFitter will tell you. The top-finishing athletes were those who cycled quickly through the thrusters. The butterfly pull-up was also an essential tool for the fastest athletes.
No world records were set, but a few athletes turned in stellar times.
The men put on a show. Even in the early heats, the pace was fast, with the barbell hardly ever touching the ground.
There was some drama in the last and fastest heat as Games veteran Chase Ingraham (aka Captain America) had trouble with his rower — it shut off. In the end, he and his judge managed to get the rower going again. The slow start might have cost him the heat as most of his rivals finished the 1,000 meters in less than 3:35.
Jason Hoggan set a blistering pace on the thrusters but it was Mike McGoldrick who got to the pull-ups first. The race was on between Hoggan and McGoldrick, with McGoldrick rapidly butterflying 20 reps. He came off the bar, but was quickly up again, doing eight with the regular kip before faltering on his last rep. Still, he was fast enough to defeat Hoggan by just three seconds.
The unaffiliated McGoldrick’s patience paid off in the end.
“I knew that everyone was going to get off the row before me, and I had to be comfortable with that and let it keep me calm,” he said. “In my opinion, the race is the thrusters and pull-ups for time, so the row doesn’t matter. So I just tried to stay calm. I actually broke on the pull-ups and I’ve never broken on the pull-ups in my life and I still PR’d by five seconds.”
1. Mike McGoldrick (5:16)
2. Jason Hoggan (5:18)
3. Bryan Diaz (5:22)
The athletes in the final heat proved their Open finishes were no accident as they sped through Jackie at a breakneck pace.
Favorites Jenn Jones, Holly Mata and Amanda Schwartz went rep for rep on the thrusters, with no one putting the bar down, which made the pull-ups a dramatic finale. With her face contorted in pain and effort, Schwartz may have been the first to the pull-up bar, followed closely by Jones and Mata, but she couldn’t sustain her lead. She broke after 10 pull-ups and Jones surged into the lead.
But it was another athlete, on the edge of the main action, who carried the day. Cassidy Lance was one of the last off the row, but she moved quickly through the thrusters and erased her considerable deficit while on the pull-up bar, using the butterfly kip to devastating effect and going unbroken. It was a personal record for the athlete from CrossFit Bolt. After the event, she could be found soaking her forearms in an ice bath.
“Well I knew my row was going to be slow, so I just kept my pace,” Lance said. “Then I looked over and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m one of the last ones. I gotta go.’ And so I moved fast. I was going, I was going, and then like I hit 30, and I was like, OK, catch my breath, slow down, keep going. Then I was on the pull-ups and I was done. It was fun.”
1. Cassidy Lance (6:22)
2. Jenn Jones (6:27)
3. Nikki Isbell (6:40)
Surprisingly, the fastest time of the day came in the first heat. Janet Black, fifth place in the Open, completed Jackie in seven minutes flat to give Atomic CrossFit a sizable lead.
But CrossFit Katy’s Adam Heiman, adopting a “never-say-die” attitude, flew through the thrusters and destroyed that lead. As things played out, CrossFit Katy’s time of 12:55 proved impossible to beat.
In the final heat, CrossFit Dallas Central raced valiantly against the clock. Audra LeBeau powered through the row and performed the thrusters unbroken, with teammate Matt Anderson matching her pace. But their time of 12:59 was only good enough for second place.
Heiman was modest about his stand-out performance.
“I knew I didn’t want to go too fast on the rower because then I would slow down everywhere else,” he said. “And then the same thing happened on the thrusters. I was going fast, but I guess I held up. The only problem was the grip on the pull-ups. On the thrusters, I got them all unbroken, then on the pull-ups, I think I got 20, fell off, fell off again at 27 or something like that, but overall it was good.”
1. CrossFit Katy (12:55)
2. CrossFit Dallas Central (12:59)
3. CrossFit Waco (13:04)