"You give your all because you know everyone else is, too. They pick me up on days I can't pick myself up."
Crissy Cannon has qualified individually for the Central East Regional twice. She declined the invitation both times.
Instead, she chose to compete with Team Jacked and Tan from CrossFit K-Town.
“I love the team aspect of things,” the 27-year-old said. “I really enjoy learning to work together with people and for people, and learning that it’s not all about me.”
With a score of 263 reps on 14.2, good enough for seventh place in the Central East, she’s on her way to declining a third regional invitation.
The former collegiate gymnast grinned when she checked her phone for the announcement of 14.2 last Thursday night. Chest-to-bar pull-ups are as basic as breathing if you’ve been swinging on the high bar since age 6.
“I was hoping for chest-to-bars,” she said. “It was (a workout) I knew I could do well on.”
For 21 years, she competed alone on the gymnastics floor. But when she started tumbling for the team at the University of Kentucky, she learned that people were more important than points.
“You can have the best meet of your life, but if your team doesn’t do well, it doesn’t feel good,” she said. “It teaches you selflessness. In college, I learned to love that.”
Old friends with two-time CrossFit Games athlete Talayna Fortunato, she joined CrossFit Redding in 2011 while studying in California to see what the fuss was all about. When she joined CrossFit Redding’s team and threw down at the Northern California Regional that year, she knew she’d found a replacement for her old gymnastics family.
“I loved to see people from all different backgrounds come together for a common cause,” she said. “That’s what I was missing (after gymnastics). The community side of athletics and how it brings people together.”
Today, she finds that community in Team Jacked and Tan.
“They teach me to believe in myself,” she said. “It’s pretty neat to have someone look you in the eye and say, ‘We believe in you, no matter what.’”
They believed in her when her body began to fail in 14.2.
“They knew I could get to the 18s,” she said. “When I got tired, they were there yelling ‘Pick up the bar!’”
To get that far, Cannon relied on the strategy she developed the year before when she tied for third in the region on Open Workout 13.5. Treating each round like an every-minute-on-the-minute workout, she said, gave her the space to stay calm and breathe.
“That way, I’d have a minute of rest (between each round),” she said. “I like to sprint and rest. That’s what I’ve done my whole life (in gymnastics), so it typically works a lot better for me.”
As her hands closed around the bar for her first set of pull-ups, she felt like a fish back in water, demolishing her first set unbroken. But after remembering Fortunato’s winning performance, she broke each round thereafter into two chunks to save her grip.
“Rounds 10, 12 and 14 felt exactly the same to me because I kept calm and kept looking at the clock,” she said. “If I had not had a plan, I would have been stressed.”
The plan worked perfectly until minute 12. Fatigue set in, setting her 20 seconds off course.
“If I were to have changed anything, I would have fought harder to stay on the bar to give myself a full minute’s rest between (the rounds of) 16 (reps) and 18,” she reflected.
Though the Open workouts are not team events, she said the drive to give her all for her team is what got her through the pain and halfway through the round of 18s.
“You give your all because you know everyone else is, too,” she said. “They pick me up on the days I can’t pick myself up.”
After Jacked and Tan missed qualification for the CrossFit Games by just one place in 2012 and two in 2013, Cannon is ready to get to the big stage in Carson—but only if she can share the spotlight with her team.
“Celebrating (victories) with people is a lot more fun than celebrating by yourself,” she said. “They know how hard it is to get there and see the days you fail and fail and fail, so the day you make it is like a big family celebration.”
Updated Weds. March 12 at 8:30 a.m. - Changed Cannon's rank on 14.2 from fourth in the Central East to seventh. Rankings are unofficial and subject to change as Affiliate Managers validate scores. Score validation ends tonight at 5 p.m. PT.
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