Individual athletes appeared refreshed and well-rested Saturday afternoon as they took the floor for Day 2 at the South Central Regional. of competition.
First-day nerves aside, athletes were also ready to get down to what many of them considered ‘more classic CrossFit’ events.
“I am happy yesterday is over. I think today’s workouts will be more fun,” Karen Pierce said before the events.
Last year’s regional champ, Jenn Jones, remained in her first-place spot at the end of Day 2. On the men’s side, Roy Gamboa’s name was atop the Leaderboard.
Jason Hoggan, 2012 Games qualifier, withdrew from competition due to a broken clavical and broken rib.
“It happened on my second set of cleans,” Hoggan said. “My judge told me to clean my bar higher, so I think I exaggerated my clean, and ended up breaking a rib and separating my left shoulder.”
Hoggan said the injury has only made him ready to come back stronger next year.
“I went out to dinner with my coach (Spencer Arnold) last night, and we are both bummed, but were already talking about training,” he said.
Strict handstand push-ups were a dividing line during Event 4 this afternoon.
The leading men from Day 1 entered the final heat of Event 4, knowing the time to beat: Braden Torrez’s 10:50. Torrez, who made a stand-out appearance during Event 3 Nasty Girls V2—first place with 7:40—continued to turn heads today.
“Handstand push-ups are a strength for me, so we were just going to go until I felt the need to break,” he said. “I didn’t want to over do it there. And then just push it on the front squats. Burpees were just going to stay a certain pace.”
The crowd was on its feet, cheering him on. Despite his two top performing finishes, Torrez was left in 13th overall, still climbing his way to be in the first heat.
“I am not competing where I want to be,” Torrez admitted. “It is difficult when you get out ahead of people, to keep pushing. You want to try your hardest to do that. It is difficult when something sucks that much, it’s hard to keep going.”
Rookie to the competition floor, Jordan Cook was flat on his back at the end of the event, trying to come close to Torrez’s time, nearly one minute later in 11:42.
“My goal was to go unbroken,” Cook said he said of the front squats. “I did it a couple times in training, once unbroken and once broken. I think when I did it broken, I mentally broke too, so today, I said, ‘Just don’t put my bar down.’”
Right behind him, third-place event finisher, Dusty Flores affirmed his belief that when you look good, you perform well. He wore a pair of hot pink leopard spandex pants to prove it, finishing in 12:07.
“It’s just building my confidence up, so I feel like if I wear bright pants like this, I should be able to show that I’m confident in myself, and my faith to go out there and give it everything I’ve got—it’s not just for attention,” Flores said. “It’s more about showing my character. I’m here to have fun and give my heart in every workout.”
The former 240 lb., 5-foot-8 football player started strong and his engine carried him through. Two years of fitness, and standing now at 190 lb., Flores conquered each movement rep-by-rep, showing no signs of fatigue.
Down and up, Flores powered through each handstand push-up, 195-lb. front squats and burpees with little to no breaks, with redemption in mind.
“Last year, I got my butt absolutely kicked on handstand push-ups, so I practiced all year kipping, and I’m a kipping master,” he said. “Then y’all throw strict at me, so that was definitely a curveball. This was one of my weakest workouts in practice, but today, I PR’d it by about three minutes, so I am pretty happy.”
Gamboa kept a quick pace throughout the event, staying smooth and steady, up until his round of 9s. Between sets of one to two handstand push-ups, he took a break, hunching over his knees to catch his breath before kicking back to the wall.
The breaks cost him and he finished in 10th place. It dropped him from first to second on the overall Leaderboard.
Event 4 Results
1. Braden Torrez (10:50)
2. Jordan Cook (11:42)
3. Dusty Flores (12:07)
The energy was high for the final event of the day: 10 rounds of legless rope climbs and a 200-foot sprint.
The men’s sprint-pace throughout Event 5 brought life back to the Freeman Coliseum.
Athletes in the first two heats took the Leaderboard by surprise.
Kyle Flowers, sitting in 44th place going into the event had the Coliseum back in the game, with a time of 3:50.
“My strategy was to not die, not to fade out,” Flowers said. “When I had practiced, I faded out on Round 8 or 9, so I knew I just did not want to hit failure. Today, I just dove in, and said, ‘Ya know what? I am in second-to-last place, why not at least have fun with it?’”
First-time regional competitor Justin Wofford also seemingly came out of nowhere, beating Flowers by just two seconds in 3:48 in Heat 2. Wofford said he only knows how to do one thing: “Work hard.”
Wofford did not stop once during the event.
Flores was hungry to climb into a top-three spot. He moved through the event just like he had in Event 4: rep-by-rep with no sign of fatigue.
Flores and Gamboa sprinted out their final round, but Flores reached the mat one second faster (3:59). The Event helped boost Flores to third place at the end of the day. Flores said his focus was performing at his personal best.
“Honestly, it just happened,” Flores said. “(Gamboa) and I were out there close together. Thank God for my Pillar (CrossFit) family. They were right there in the stands telling me when to pick it up, when to go faster. To be honest, if it wasn’t for them cheering me on, I don’t know I would have finished the way I did.”
Gamboa said he had fun with the event.
“I practiced that one twice and I watched Elijah Muhammad’s strategy. He just murdered it, and I wanted to mimic that the best I could,” Gamboa said. “These T-Rex arms don’t help. I did better than in practice though. I think it was a 12-second PR.”
Event 5 Results
1. Justin Wofford (3:48)
2. Kyle Flowers (3:50)
3. Braden Torrez(3:53)
1. Roy Gamboa (45)
2. Jordan Cook (51)
3. Dusty Flores (57)
4. Jared Astle (64)
5. Richard Bohlken (64)
6. Luke Mullen (67)
7. Braden Torrez (68)
8. Mike McGoldrick (69)
9. Jeff Germond (74)
10. Cody Spell (76)
Women of the South Central Region had the opportunity to finally put their practice spent working on strict handstand push-ups over the past four weeks to the test.
CrossFit Central’s Carey Kepler kicked off the first heat as the only female to finish the event within the 20-minute time cap.
The 54 reps of each movement came easier to some than others, particularly former gymnasts like Kelsey Briner, who said she has been walking on her hands all of her life.
During Heat 3, Briner gracefully completed strict handstand push-ups in strategically planned sets of five, followed by sets of three as she grew tired, with little to no rest between reps.
Briner kept her composure throughout the neck-and-neck race between 2013 Games athelte Holly Mata, who revealed her upper body strength during the handstand push-ups. Mata was determined not to let Briner lead the way.
“I don’t think I would have gone as fast had Kelsey not been there,” Mata said after the event. “She pushed me and came out of nowhere.”
“When I saw Holly’s bar get ahead of mine, it made me go even faster. I didn’t know where it came from, but I did not want to put that bar down,” Briner said.
Mata immediately dropped to the ground for her burpees as she bounced up from her final front squat and jumped with both feet on the mat at 12:48, two seconds ahead of Briner.
As the final heat of women made their way to the floor, the leading ladies of Day 1 knew it was going to be a similar race to the finish.
Cassidy Lance surprised herself by winning Event 4 in 10:17.
“Kipping handstand push-ups are really good for me, but I was nervous about the strict,” Lance said. “During practice the past several weeks, I’ve been working on them, one at a time, with ankle weights.
“Then, today during the workout, my initial strategy was to go 10-6-5 on the first set of 21,” she continued. “I ended up doing 12-5-4. Then, I was going to break on the front squats, but they felt good so I kept going.”
Jenn Jones fought to keep her name at the top of the Leaderboard, bounding onto the mat from her last set of burpees nearly one minute after Lance (11:33), followed closely by gymnast Arielle Armstrong (11:36).
Jessie Jo Young and Beth Spearman went rep-for-rep, one in front of the other. It looked like Spearman was ahead as she dropped to the ground for her last set of burpees, but one no-rep set her back, and Young managed to get ahead to finish in 16:59, one second ahead of Spearman.
As the athletes finished, all gathered around the last woman on the floor, Audra LeBeau in Lane 2, to give her an extra push. With less then one minute left, LeBeau struggled to finish her last set of nine handstand push-ups.
In the final 20 seconds, she picked up her bar to get through as many front squats as she could before time was called.
“It’s been really tough this weekend being out here, competing injured,” LeBeau said. “I tore some ligaments in my foot earlier this week when I landed on my foot wrong from a rope climb. It’s especially hard when you know you’re the last one out there and everyone else has finished.”
Event 4 Results
1. Cassidy Lance (10:17)
2. Jenn Jones (11:33)
3. Arielle Armstrong (11:36)
Kepler had fans cheering her on to the finish once more as she sprinted her final round take first place in the first heat of Event 5 in 8:27.
“I look around here, and it’s another league,” said the veteran competitor. “It’s awesome and hats off to these girls that are killing it. In fact, looking at the 1 percent who actually qualified for the regionals is why I decided to do it this year. I was like, ‘I qualified? Why not?’”
She added: “I felt good on the rope climbs today, and it was faster than I finished in practice so I felt good about that.”
During Heat 2, Karen Pierce looked as though she may have a shot at beating Kepler’s time, but as arm fatigue set in, she got a no-rep on the last climb.
“My strategy was to just breathe, stop trying to rush and slow down,” Pierce said.
That was one of several no reps throughout the event. In final heat, Candice Ruiz and Armstrong started off strong, leading the pack. Ruiz, who looked like she was in the position to win the event, got stuck on the last rope climb.
“I was doing really well, really felt like I could win this event and then I have to go and make a rookie mistake, even though this is my fifth time here at regionals,” Ruiz said afterward. “I am really disappointed, but the only thing I can really do is go home, re-group and come back ready for tomorrow.”
In Heat 3, Jessica Malone was the first to sprint to the end after her 10th rope climb, followed by Amanda Schwartz, then Jones in the following heat. The win helped Malone advance from 10th place to fourth.
“’Just run,’” Malone said. “That’s what my coach said. Just run, because the rope climbs are not an issue for me. I didn’t really realize how much I liked legless rope climbs until training for this—it’s all about strength.”
Event 5 Results
1. Jessica Malone (5:47)
2. Amanda Schwartz (5:57)
3. Jenn Jones (6:08)
1. Jenn Jones (17)
2. Amanda Schwartz (32)
3. Cassidy Lance (33)
4. Jessica Malone (41)
5. Arielle Armstrong (45)
6. Candice Ruiz (49)
7. Chely Galvan (50)
8. Jessie Jo Young (54)
9. Beth Spearman (55)
10. Holy Mata (56)