The energy was palpable on Day 3 of the South East Regional, as the region's fittest spectators took their seats to watch the final day of team competition.
Bright-colored booty shorts, sports bras and fitted T-shirts seemed to be the dress code as teams warmed up for their first event. With CrossFit Adrenaline, CrossFit HardCore and CrossFit Atlanta sitting comfortably in the top-three spots coming into the final day, only two events separated them from the goal they had been working toward all year long: the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Team Event 7 was a partner event where one man and one woman worked together to complete the work. The athletes were in for some rowing, double-unders, deadlifts, toes-to-bars and static holds.
"I love that it's a partner (event),” said Brandi Newman of the Carolina CrossFit Silverbacks. “Male and female partnering up, it's classic CrossFit, and I think that's what most people are excited about. It's basic CrossFit movements that everyone should be proficient in.”
"We're excited. These are more of our kind of (events). No more of the very gymnastic-y stuff, which some of us are good at but not everybody on our team," said Stephanie McCarthy of CrossFit HustleHard.
It wasn’t the male’s deadlifts at 275 lb. or the women’s deadlifts at 185 lb. that had the competitors struggling in Event 7. It was the static holds at the top of the deadlift that destroyed grip strength.
With ice bags taped to her forearms, Tina Carson of CrossFit Hinesville agreed it was all about the grip.
“Coming off those deadlifts and going to the toes-to-bars, my forearms were smoked,” Carson said. “I never tape my hands, but I did today so I was slipping and just couldn’t grip the bar very well.”
Athletes were finishing the toes-to-bars one rep at a time as they tried to maintain their grip. Austin Medford of CrossFit Adrenaline fell off the bar to the floor but quickly recovered.
“I just tried to keep up with (my partner, Allie),” Medford said
Steve Walters of CrossFit HardCore knew the team’s work was not over after placing 16th in Event 7. The team started the day in second place but fell to third after the event.
"Now we have a little bit more pressure. We didn't do as well as we thought we were going to do in this (event),” he said.
CrossFit Unmatched finished with the best time of the day at 16:03, placing themselves in contention for a spot on the podium. They tied CrossFit HardCore in points, but with the tiebreaker, enter the final event in fourth.
"We needed this win for sure,” said CrossFit Unmatched team member, Ashley Almand. “We definitely didn't think we were going to win, but it definitely helps us fighting for that third spot to have won this (event)."
"We actually changed our entire order yesterday,” Almand said. “We had our faster people going first, and then the others going last. We completely reversed it and had our faster people go last, and it paid off. We ended up blowing the heat away."
CrossFit Adrenaline tied for second with CrossFit Bound with a time of 16:23, maintaining their overall first place on the Leaderboard.
Team Event 7
1. CrossFit Unmatched (16:03)
2T. CrossFit Adrenaline (16:23)
2T. CrossFit Bound (16:23)
After the grip destroyer that was Event 7, many athletes could be heard strategizing how to tackle the 49 pull-ups in Event 8. But it was the seven heavy overhead squats that would make or break the teams in the final event of the South East Regional.
"Forearms were a little smoked … definitely has to do with the deadlifts and of course toes-to-bars,” said Chase Prime of RPM CrossFit. “We had a strategy going into this one. It changed during it so we had to improvise, but overall we felt tired but good at the same time."
Johnny Brennan of CrossFit Unmatched quickly came off of the pull-up bar but fatigued on the 185-lb. overhead squats. Having to squat clean to get the bar to his shoulders, Brennan missed rep after rep as CrossFit Unmatched watched their chance to make it to the Games disappear.
Lindsay Bourdon of CrossFit Adrenaline went unbroken on the 49 pull-ups and the overhead squats to help her team to take first place on the event with a time of 12:40. CrossFit Adrenaline finishes first place overall for a third consecutive trip to the Games.
"We're thrilled! Very excited,” Chelsea Lowery said. "I think (our strategy) going into that one was not to focus as much on the pull-ups. Get through and be smart, because we knew by the time we got to overhead squats … we wanted to try to do seven unbroken, getting depth.”
Leah Polaski of CrossFit Atlanta made light work of the overhead squats, going unbroken and coming across the finish line for a third-place time of 14:41. This secured the team’s second-place finish and return trip to the Games.
"We feel great! We are now going into our fifth year at the CrossFit Games as CrossFit Atlanta, and that's a huge success in itself," Bethanie Giardina said. “We really achieved what we wanted to. Day 1 was probably the toughest, and from there we just kept moving up the rankings."
"I'm going to let it settle in, go hug my daughter, and maybe go eat some pizza and just relax," Giardina said.
Though CrossFit Hardcore’s chances on the podium were threatened by CrossFit Unmatched after Event 7, the team came back strong for a second-place finish on Event 8. They finish regionals in third place overall.
CrossFit Hardcore last made it to the Games in 2011, and they are excited to be heading back.
“It was a long road since 2011,” said coach Adrianna Grassi-Mosley. “We lost a couple athletes … so it was hard to build back some athletes. It takes about two years before you develop a good team. So last year we did pretty OK at the regionals, and this year, we came back, and we knew we had a chance especially seeing the types of workouts.”
Making its regional debut, Brandon Phillips’ team, CrossFit Bound, finished in an impressive fourth place. Team HustleHard took fifth place, while CrossFit Unmatched ends their regional in sixth.
Team Event 8
1. CrossFit Adrenaline (12:40)
2. CrossFit Hardcore (12:45)
3. CrossFit Atlanta (14:41)
Games Qualifying Teams
1. CrossFit Adrenaline (17)
2. CrossFit Atlanta (36)
3. CrossFit HardCore (39)