The top teams of the South East are comprised of parents, coaches, a doctor, an attorney, a firefighter and even a professional golfer.
The top teams in the South East are comprised of parents, coaches, a doctor, an attorney, a firefighter and even a professional golfer. They have varied backgrounds, but a common passion for CrossFit has the members of three teams all convening in California next month to represent the South East Region at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games.
These three teams have stepped up training in preparation for the upcoming Games. CrossFit Atlanta, CrossFit Adrenaline and Hustle Hard Powered by HEW will be representing the Dirty South in Carson, Calif.
After missing out on a trip to the Games last year, CrossFit Atlanta began training for the 2012 Games as soon as they returned home from the 2011 Regional competition. The team’s training paid off. They dominated the South East Regional this year, taking first place, nine points ahead of Adrenaline.
“I knew after assessing our fourth place ﬁnish last year that we would need well-rounded male athletes, physically strong female athletes, and solid strategy to do well,” says Ken Gall, coach of the CrossFit Atlanta team. “We built our team and training around these three things all year, and as soon as the workouts were announced, I knew we planned right.”
The team took two first places (tie), two second places, one third place and one fourth place (tie) during the Regional competition.
“I was expecting my team to do well. I don’t mean this in a cocky way. I just have a lot of conﬁdence in my teammates,” says Michael Giardina, owner and team member of CrossFit Atlanta. “I know what they are capable of, and I expected some great performances out of them.”
CrossFit Atlanta’s team roster for the Games will have some changes. Nicole Corey who competed at the Regional will be stepping down. Leah Polaski, 32, who competed individually at the Games last year and came in fifth at this year’s Regional, will be taking her place. “Leah has a lot of competition experience and is an amazing and well-rounded CrossFitter,” Giardina says. “We are pumped to have her come on the team. She is going to ﬁll in some of the gaps that we have.”
The team will also be adding Rob Miller, 26, a former swimmer at Georgia Tech who ﬁnished in 35th place at Regionals. He will be replacing Gall, who will be taking on the role of coach in California. “I’m pretty excited to be out there coaching the team,” Gall says. “Coaching and strategy is an absolutely crucial role in the team competition because without being able to practice the workouts, teams have to quickly assess workouts and come up with strategies to optimally perform given their athletes.”
The team will be rounded out by:
- Jessica Denney, 20, who competed on a team at last year’s Games and can clean 265 pounds and snatch 175 pounds.
- Bethanie Giardina, 27, who has competed twice at the Games on the CrossFit Atlanta team and just had a baby 10 months ago.
- Mike Giardina, 31, who competed three times as an individual at the Games and will be competing for the ﬁrst time on a team.
- Andy Miller, 24, also a former swimmer at Georgia Tech.
Since Regionals, the team has ramped up its training a little, but have otherwise stayed on course. “I think we are on the right track with our programming and plan on keeping things the same,” Giardina says. “We haven’t been adding too many new movements or changing too many things. We work a lot with push sleds and interval work. Every once in a while, we throw in some different movement, but we spend most of our time working the movements that we know will show up; O-lifts, gymnastics, rowing, running and such.”
Giardina does not have a prediction for his team, but he says they will be going to California with every intention of winning. “My team is full of a bunch of rock stars, and I am lucky to be able to compete with them. It is going to be a lot of fun. I just can’t wait to get out there.”
CrossFit Adrenaline burst onto the scene at the South East Regional, surprising many by ﬁnishing second overall. The box has only been open since August 2010, and for many of its team members, Regionals was their ﬁrst CrossFit competition ever.
“As a team and as individuals, we all have pretty high expectations of ourselves, but we honestly didn't know what to expect at Regionals. Having never competed as a team, we went down to West Palm blind, not really knowing what any other team was going to present,” says team member Allie Bourdon. “Our main goal going into Regionals was to make it to the sixth workout, and we did. After the fourth workout is when we started to realize that we were actually contenders. It was the best feeling for all us, and the ﬁrst time we felt like a team.”
The team is comprised of:
- Bourdon, 22, a former competitive gymnast and collegiate soccer player.
- Lindsay Bourdon, 26, a former competitive gymnast who ﬁnished fourth in the Open for the South East, but opted to go team.
- Chelsea Lowery, 30, a former globo gym personal trainer turned CrossFit coach.
- Stacey Adams, the oldest team member at 37, whose only athletic background consists of recreational sports.
- Austin Medford, 30, who only started CrossFitting one week before this year’s Open.
- TJ Menerey, 26, a former collegiate baseball player.
Bourdon says the team is more excited than intimidated to compete against some of the top gyms in the world at the Games.
“We don’t know what to expect, but we didn’t know what to expect at Regionals either, and we think we handled that pretty well,” she says. “After meeting other teams at Regionals and getting to know them, it is even less intimidating. Everyone is so humble and welcoming. We didn’t know anyone, but at the end of the weekend we came out of the competition with good friends. We hope the same will come out of traveling to California and meeting teams and individuals from all over.”
Bourdon says the goal is to give it their all. “Our prediction is that we are going to go out to Cali knowing that we are going to do the best we possibly can. We are going to treat it like any other competition,” she says. “To us, it was the moment we were standing on the podium at the close of the South East Regional weekend saying to ourselves that we belonged there. We have made it this far, and we are darn proud of that. We know that some of these teams have been training and competing together for years, so we are going to go and do our best. Who knows where that will take us.”
HUSTLE HARD POWERED BY HEW
On the morning of Day 2 at the South East Regional, the Hustle Hard team found itself in sixth place. Team member Pierre Soero conﬁdently predicted the team would take first and second in Events 3 and 4 and end the day in the top three.
That is exactly what they did.
The team ended the Regional weekend on the podium in third place, 14 points ahead of the fourth place team.
“We were really conﬁdent with all the [events] at Regionals,” says team member Stephanie McCarthy. “Unfortunately, on Day 1 we made a lot of mistakes. Not putting enough trust in your other teammates will cost you at this level. As for [Events] 3 and 4, we were just more focused, and we went into the [workouts] with something to prove … Day 3 was all about creating enough separation in (Event) 5 between us and the teams behind us so that we could assure ourselves a trip to Cali before even performing 6.”
McCarthy attributes the team’s success to simply working hard. The team trains at Hard Exercise Works along with veteran Games’ competitors Chase Daniels and Ron Ortiz. “We don't follow any set programming. It’s pretty much an open format when it comes to WODs. However, Chase and Jon (Adams) are our best programmers,” McCarthy says. “Sometimes I feel their main goal is to kill us, which is probably good and only helps our training.”
The team roster includes:
- Jenna James, 23, coach and also known as the team’s “machine.”
- McCarthy, 26, coach, ex-gymnast and “Team Mom."
- Pamela Tambini, 27, a medical school student and former All-American collegiate basketball player.
- Team captain Jonathan Adams, 30, a patent attorney and powerlifter.
- Chris Muscarella, 32, a ﬁreﬁghter and father of three.
- Pierre Soero, 28, a professional golfer and the team’s motivator and sanity.
Though the team members trained for Regionals as if they were going to compete individually, they are now incorporating more team and partner workouts to improve transitions and mid-workout communication. They have been implementing unorthodox, uncomfortable movements such as strongman movements, partner log runs, burpee wall climbs and beach workouts.
As for predicting how they will do in California, “No prediction,” McCarthy says. “Just make it to the ﬁnal (event), and let the chips fall where they may.”