Just before the heats began at the 2013 South East Regional, four-time Games competitor, Shana Alverson, sang the national anthem.
As she sang, CrossFit fans from throughout the south filled the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Today marks the first day of the South East Regional, and for the top athletes of the Dirty South, this is their chance to prove their fitness. At the end of the weekend three men, three women, and three teams will receive a ticket to the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. The rest will pack their bags, and return to their home boxes for another year of training.
The Director of the Games, Dave Castro, watched from the sidelines, excited.
“This is a big day for us, and I’m excited to be kicking off the first Regional in the United States here in the Dirty South,” Castro says.
“The venue is amazing, the competitors are great, and the volunteers are great. This is much better than it’s ever been before. Every year continues to get even better.”
Most competitors couldn’t wait to get started, whether out of nerves or excitement.
“I’m feeling a little numb, but ready to row, thruster and pull-up,” Matt Baird, the South East’s Open winner, says.
Five-time Games competitor, Brandon Phillips, is taking it one event at a time.
"I'm not focused on the rest of the weekend right now, just one workout at a time. Hopefully I can stick to that plan," Phillips says.
We’re not in the Open anymore.
With new events, different skills, and heavier loads, the Regional is a fresh start for all of the competitors.
That became incredibly clear as the South East’s 20th-place finisher in the Open, Adrien Tapia, blazed through the 1,000 meter row, 50 45-pound thrusters, and 30 pull-ups in 5:10. His time not only surpassed all of the men in the South East, it also beat the top times in Europe (Mikko Salo, 5:21) and the North East (Christian Harris, 5:20) by ten seconds. Only time will tell whether it can stand against the top men in Southern California who are taking on the event shortly.
Jeff Evans followed in 2nd with a time of 5:20. He not only crushed his previous Jackie PR, but also matched his morning goal of 5:20.
“I was feeling great off the rower, just focusing on me. Then I thought I could go unbroken on the pull-ups, but my grip was shot so I was pissed that I had to drop,” Evans says.
After that performance, he feels confident heading into Event 2’s overhead squats, an event that gives him an opportunity to demonstrate his impressive strength.
Heading into Jackie, Noah Ohlsen was not sure how it would go. As a shorter guy, he thought he might be off the rower last. That would not prove to be the case, however, as Ohlsen flew through the workout.
“I managed to surprise myself a little bit and, like last year with Diane, I just went black during the workout. All I really remember is the start and the finish,” Ohlsen says.
Men's Event 1
1. Adrien Tapia (5:10)
2. Jeff Evans (5:20)
3. Noah Ohlsen (5:21)
The final heat of the women’s division was a fight to the finish between Talayna Fortunato and Anna Tunnicliffe. Tunnicliffe was first off the rower and the thrusters and seemed to be unstoppable, but Fortunato blazed passed her on the rig, doing all 30 pull-ups unbroken, finishing in 6:06.
"That was a PR. I haven't done it in two years ... I just wanted to get that out of the way. We can just compete now ... That's the best I've ever started a competition,” Fortunato says.
Fortunato’s coach, Doug Katona, was very pleased with the opening workout results.
“The strategy and the pace was perfect, spot on from what we have been doing all week,” he says.
Katona added that the 30 unbroken pull-ups were all part of the plan.
“The goal is for her to gain energy all weekend by sticking to that plan,” he says.
“It felt good to get this one going. I was looking forward to it,” Tunnicliffe says.
Former powerlifter and newcomer, Taylar Stallings, made a name for herself finishing Event 1 in third place with a time of 6:36.
Emily Bridgers narrowly missed qualification in 2012, and many guess that this could be her year for redemption. However, the petite competitor was at a disadvantage in the workout with a 1,000-meter row. Nonetheless, she finished in 6th with a time of 6:54.
"I would have hoped to not come off the bar quite so much on pull-ups, but my forearms and my lats were just smoked,” Bridgers says. “Sitting in sixth I'm positive, staying positive. [Sixth place] is totally fine for right now. I just want to stay in the top five or top 10 in all the workouts. I'm excited for the burpee muscle-ups. I'm anxious to get the overhead squats out of the way, and I'm looking forward to continuing on."
Women's Event 1
1. Talayna Fortunato (6:09)
2. Anna Tunnicliffe (6:24)
3. Taylar Stallings (6:36)
In the team division, the 17th-ranked team in the region, CrossFit Spartanburg, jumped to the top with a winning time of 12:53 on Pair Jackie.
CrossFit Adrenaline showed that they intend to finish the weekend on the podium by taking second place with a time of 13:08.
"We're really just trying to make it back to Cali and just doing the best we can. It's not a given any day. We don't know who's going to show up on what days so we're just going to try our best," Allie Bourdon of Team CrossFit Adrenaline says.
CrossFit Atlanta Formulx rounded out the top three with a time of 13:16.
Team Event 1
1. CrossFit Spartanburg (12:53)
2. CrossFit Adrenaline (13:08)
3. CrossFit Atlanta Formulx (13:16)