On the last day of competition, the morning event was a chipper involving gymnastics and an unconventional object—the axle.
Shoulders were already taxed from the previous five events. Event 6 promised no let up with double-unders, handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar on the menu. Throw in 30 reps of shoulder-to-overhead with a heavy, unwieldy axle, and the athletes must have wondered what they’d gotten themselves into.
Jenn Jones was the lone athlete who could feel comfortable about her position. Her nine overall points distanced her from the other female competitors. The race for second and third, however, would be a real contest between three athletes—Cassidy Lance, Holly Mata and Candice Ruiz—who were all within touching distance of one another points-wise.
The team competition had a similar look with CrossFit Dallas Central possessing a sizable lead. Atomic CrossFit, CrossFit Katy and Games vets Team CrossFit Central were virtually tied with one another going into the final two events.
With the men’s Leaderboard in a constant state of flux, Day 3 promised a healthy dose of drama.
In the early heats, the axle pushed male athletes to the limit. Alex Romero in the first heat set the standard with a time of 11:11. In Heat 2, Taylor Domengeaux and Brett Andrade were the only two athletes able to finish.
In the third heat, athletes were more proficient with the axle in general, and consequently eight of 11 finished the event.
Mike McGoldrick made a statement in Event 6. While Jeff Germond set the pace by flying through the handstand push-ups, McGoldrick wasn’t far behind. On the shoulder-to-overhead, he employed an efficient push jerk, making good time over to the lunges.
As Germond dropped the axle to rest, McGoldrick lunged 45 feet without pause to overtake Germond. It was a lead he wouldn’t relinquish as he finished the lunges in three sets, landing on the finish mat at 11:51. It wasn’t the fastest time of the day—Romero’s first-heat performance would stand—but that didn’t matter to McGoldrick. By winning the heat, he shot to the top of the Leaderboard. Aja Barto’s third-place finish in the heat brought him to second place overall.
Contenders Paul Smith and Roy Gamboa finished the lunge and stepped on the mat for a tie at 13:11.
Going into the last event, only 4 points separate second and fourth places. All three spots for the Games are up for grabs with no margin for error as Event 7 looms.
Overall leader McGoldrick said the workout was all about desire and pain tolerance.
“That was just about sticking to your game plan and once you're done with the gymnastics, it’s all about who wants it,” he said. “Everyone is strong enough to get through the shoulder to overhead, it’s just who is willing to hurt that long. Same goes with the lunges. I just tried to keep going. I mean you’re not going to fail, you just have to try and push.”
McGoldrick felt a twinge in his groin halfway into the event, but expects to be fine.
“Just over halfway, I felt my left groin start pulling and I was so tired I couldn’t remember what side not to lunge on, so I kept lunging with my left. It just got worse and I had to drop. It feels like it’s pulled right now, but I got four hours to hopefully heal like a Superman so we'll see.”
With spot at the Games a real possibility, he has a straightforward game plan for Event 7: “Go as fast as I can.”
1. Alex Romero (11:11)
2. Blaine Springston (11:13)
3. Cole Marshburn (11:38)
Handstand push-ups were a significant stumbling block for many of the women. In Heat 1, only two women finished under the 15-minute time cap. In fact, with 11 minutes elapsed, 5 of the 12 athletes were still stuck on the handstand push-ups.
Kimmy Trowbridge distinguished herself where others struggled. The compact athlete quickly put daylight between herself and the other competitors then worked coolly through the toes-to-bar. Given her size, the axle slowed her down, but she was always far ahead of the others and finished in 13:24, with Mary Woodruff coming in at 14:35.
In Heat 2, Chelsea Ross flew through the handstand push-ups with Meagan Matthews close behind. Both were making great time until they were rudely met by the axle where both struggled in the beginning, allowing Bethany Hernandez—using a smooth push jerk—to take the lead. Ross rebounded and it became a race between her and Hernandez. The latter strode ahead taking the heat at 12:34. Ross finished in 13:08.
With the standings so close, everything was on the line in the final heat. Though her range of motion was short on the handstand push-ups, Holly Mata got stuck. Likewise, Ruiz struggled to keep up with heat leader, Cassidy Lance, who with a minute remaining was on pace to break the world record of 8:31, set by Europe’s Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir.
Shooting for a debut appearance at the Games, Lance attacked the first two movements. At 2:30, she was already on the toes-to-bar, with Leah Shullenberger and Jenn Jones close behind. On the axle, Lance maintained a 10-rep lead on Jones. With long, controlled steps she then lunged her way toward the finish line, putting more distance between her and her nearest rival.
But Jones is leading this competition for a reason. Determined to catch Lance, Jones pressed forward aggressively. Lance lost control of the axle with only one lunge remaining, which allowed Jones to catch up. Both finished that last lunge together and then sprinted toward the mat, arriving in perfect synchronicity at 8:40, just nine seconds off the world record.
“I was really exciting going in, slightly nervous about doing the double-unders unbroken, just because, anything can happen with a double-under,” Jones said after the event. “And then this workout has a lot of my strengths, with my gymnastics background and upper body strength. But coming off of yesterday, things felt a lot harder today than in practice. When we were doing the lunges I saw her put the bar down, and I was like, ‘OK, I'm going to keep moving.’”
Barring an unlikely collapse in the final event, both Jones and Lance look headed to Carson. Despite falling behind, Mata and Ruiz are still contending for that third spot on the podium. In 5th place overall, Ingrid Kantola isn’t out of the hunt either.
Going into the event, Lance was determined to put breathing room between her and the third and fourth
“Coming into this, I knew that Candice and Holly were right on my butt, so I had to go fast,” she said. “Then it just felt good so I kept going. I saw Jenn Jones the whole time and I just kept thinking pain is going to go away, but glory never does. So I kept saying glory, glory in my head and it paid off.”
She attributed her trouble with the axle at the end with a poor clean.
“I guess I just didn't clean it right and it just flipped, so I had to get my mind set and go,” she said. “I saw my whole crowd cheering and I had to go.”
1T. Jenn Jones (8:40)
1T. Cassidy Lance (8:40)
3. Ingrid Kantola (10:28)
For every team, the double-unders were no problem. The partner handstand push-ups, however, slowed down a number of teams, and the shoulder to overhead—with one team member holding the axle in rack position while the other accumulated reps—was a deciding factor.
In Heat 1, C4 CrossFit established a lead, but couldn’t hold on. CrossFit Lake Charles raced past them on the lunges to take the heat in 12:18.
In the second heat, CrossFit Kemah cycled quickly through the handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar to build a sizable lead, with CrossFit NOLA and Team BoomFit neck and neck for second. Comfortably ahead, CrossFit Kemah lunged their way to a 10:37 finish, with CrossFit NOLA coming in at 11:41.
The last heat featured CrossFit Katy and Team CrossFit Central falling behind due to the handstand push-ups. Also vying for a podium spot, Atomic CrossFit was in a race with CrossFit Strong for first place in the heat.
Atomic CrossFit excelled in the shoulder-to-overhead, establishing a clear lead, then lunging their way to victory with an event-winning time of 9:29. Get Lifted CrossFit passed CrossFit Strong and took second place with 10:17. CrossFit Dallas Central overcame their stumble on the handstand push-ups to take third in the heat and solidify their position at the top of the Leaderboard.
Get Lifted’s standout performance helped them climb to third and Atomic CrossFit stayed in second.
Atomic CrossFit’s Benjamin Bacon said communication was the key.
“The game plan was to listen to each other and tell each other how we were feeling, then break intermittently when we were getting tired. We went in going with 12 reps on the handstand push-ups and 15 on the toes-to-bar and just alternate to that,” he said. “On the shoulder-to-overhead it was to pretty much just go and do as big of sets as we could.”
His teammate Beth Spearman said they stumbled on double-unders, but stayed calm knowing that handstand push-ups and toes-to-bar were in their wheelhouse.
“I think we did a good job of staying within what we knew we could do,” she said. “We got a little tripped up on the double-unders, which was fine, because we knew what we had in the tank for the handstand push-ups and for toes-to-bar, so that we could put together those big sets. So that’s what we did, we didn't let ourselves get frazzled. We had a little hiccup at the beginning, but we stuck with our game plan and it worked.”
1. Atomic CrossFit (9:29)
2. Get Lifted (10:17)
3. Team CrossFit Kemah (10:37)