"We're going to really set an example, to do the right thing for a future generation that looks up to us as leaders."
“We’re just a real tough team, mentally and physically,” Brandon Shriner of CrossFit New Albany says. “We may not look pretty doing it, but we get the job done.”
On June 9, the team climbed onto the podium for the first time. With 42 points, CrossFit Mayhem sealed first. Tied with 45 points, Indy North Black and CrossFit New Albany took second and third through a tiebreaker.
The team’s members were stoked to stand on the podium, but they say the podium wasn’t the original goal. They got together to be an example for their box.
“We’re doing it for more than just ourselves,” Shriner says. “There are a lot of kids and families that look to this team as an example of not just health and performance, but life, and that fuels us.”
Until the Central East Regional, team members trained with the classes at CrossFit New Albany. They didn’t form a separate competitor class, or come in off hours. They just added weight or more complex skills to the gym’s daily workout.
“It was the (workouts) that were programmed for the community, but amped up on steroids for us,” Shriner explains.
The extra work paid off at the Regional. They got off to a strong start on Jackie, as Danielle Koch sped through the 1,000-meter row. Although she slowed on the thrusters with rowing-induced fatigue, her partner, Dane Youtz, was able to make up for lost time with unbroken butterfly pull-ups. Youtz passed CrossFit Grandview to take second behind CrossFit Maven.
In the afternoon, Shriner opened the overhead squat ladder at 245 lbs. He was no-repped on his first set. Then after a two-rep success and nearly extending his third, he celebrated too soon and dropped the rep early.
“I got too excited at first,” he says. “No one (else) opened at that weight, and we wanted to set the tone of coming for business.”
When Youtz tried his hand at the weight, he dropped the bar on his head. Shriner was no-repped again on his first try at 265 lbs., and the team was shaken and frustrated.
“We all had to take a deep breath and say, ‘Let’s not freak out, we’ve done this a million times,’” Shriner recalls.
Shriner’s second effort at 265 was a success, and CrossFit New Albany bagged another second-place finish, sharing the spot with CrossFit Naptown Competition Team. Although the women struggled with the muscle-ups in Event 3, they got through their six and the men’s 68 reps kept the team afloat in second overall with just 15 points.
Eighth- and third-place finishes in Events 4 and 5 boosted the team to first overall on Day 2, with an 11-point safety net between them and Team Indy North Black in third place.
“I believe that the Deadlift/Box Jump (Event) solidified the weekend,” Shriner says. “Both of our individuals jumped like rabbits, and that put us in a pretty decent lead going into Day 3.”
A lead they needed come Event 6.
Shriner and his partner, Courtney Chae, kept pace with the other 11 couples on the floor all the way through the shoulder-to-overheads. It wasn’t until the 90-foot lunge that the sky darkened.
With CrossFit Polaris and CrossFit Mayhem already long gone, Shriner strode nearly rep-for-rep with CrossFit Maximus’ male in an argument for third. He tumbled headfirst over his bar and onto the mat at half past 10 minutes. When he turned expecting to see his partner a pace or two, his effort turned to confusion as Chae was stuck on stutter mid-field, unable to string together lunges that met the judges standards.
“I thought if I made it to the end and went unbroken, that it would light a fire and get her pumped up to not put that bar down,” Shriner says. “But the problem wasn’t whether she was able to clean the bar, she was just really tired. Her gas tank was pretty cleared at that point.”
Youtz says Chae’s performance was an example of the integrity the team strives to uphold.
“She was absolutely exhausted, and gave it her all,” Youtz says. “She didn’t get annoyed, she didn’t go off on her judge, she did what she had to do. She finished, she got through and we were all right.”
Even though team CrossFit New Albany was last in their heat, and 12th in Event 6, they maintained their first place overall standings by two points. The final event, however, was the perfect storm as a few missed cleans and a surprise takeover by team Indy North Black bumped them down to third.
“God had a plan,” Shriner says. “It wasn’t the plan we would have liked to have had, but at the end of the day, we went to the Games and that’s all that matters.”
According to Shriner, their third-place finish taught the team a lesson they’ll take with them to Carson in July.
“It’s all won on the third day,” he says. “You can’t come out guns a-blazing on the first day.”
In the final weeks before the Games, the team is adding three team workouts per week to their previous single session. They started by practicing old Games workouts from 2011 and 2012 to get an idea of what to expect.
“It’s helping us tremendously as far as getting comfortable with each other, and getting used to team formats,” Youtz says.
He says they’re also working to get their “triathlon wind up,” building swimming and distance running into their programming. They frequently travel to the Hoover Dam Recreational Park in Westerville, Ohio, to drill high-volume stair sprints.
“We’re not 100 percent polished, and there (are) certain things we obviously have that are weaknesses, but I know we’re gonna finish it and no one’s gonna give up,” Youtz says. “We’re definitely scrappy, but we can throw it together.”
“We’re controlling the things we can control,” Shriner adds. “Our diet, making sure we’re staying well-adjusted, and just taking care of our bodies and mentally preparing ourselves to go to a place not many people want to go.”
Team CrossFit New Albany hopes to survive until the final day of competition in Carson, Calif.
“What would be the sense of training?” Shriner says. “But that’s not why we’re going. We’re going to really set an example, to do the right thing for a future generation that looks up to us as leaders.”
They hope the team can use the spotlight in Carson to influence the youth in their community.
“You never know when there’s going to be a kid watching on the TV or computer, and how are you going to be carrying yourself?” Shriner says.
“Us going to the Games is going to help motivate people and show them what it takes,” he says. “The consistency, the time, the effort and getting together every day and doing what you need to do to get there.”