"This year, I just wanted to see what happened. I didn't know what to expect, but know without a doubt, my goal is to make it to Regionals one year real soon."
While most 17-year-old girls are concerned with finding the right prom dress and college acceptance letters this time of year, 17-year-old Mica Huerta is concerned about her power snatch and muscle-ups.
In fact, in her second year competing in the Open, Mica is holding her own within the top 20 in the Latin America Region to prove she has what it takes to, one day, be on top.
“This year, I just wanted to see what happened. I didn’t know what to expect, but know without a doubt, my goal is to make it to Regionals one year real soon,” she says.
Tackling 13.4 this week, she managed to get through 64 reps, something she never foresaw herself doing two years ago when she could barely even lift the girl’s bar. Now, she has a one-rep max clean and jerk of 155, and continues to work on her weaknesses in order to make them into strengths.
“I practice and practice and practice,” she says. “Things like my muscle-ups, I practiced for two months exactly before I got them. I was in the gym two hours a day, stopped working out, just working on muscle-ups, and one day, it finally clicked.”
At 5-foot-4 and 125 pounds, her focus most currently has been on getting stronger and improving her efficiency in workouts.
“I was not an athlete at all before, didn’t eat healthy at all, so this lifestyle was completely new to me,” Mica explains. “Now, I workout everyday — sometimes twice a day, and I work on my cleans and snatches at least three times per week. A lot of kids just don’t understand it. When they see me, they ask me, ‘How much do you bench? How much do you curl?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I don’t do that.’”
In fact, Mica is so serious about improving at her sport that she recently moved from her hometown in Jupiter, Fla., to Panama, where her dad works on assignment building golf courses. There, she will finish her senior year of high school correspondence while training at CrossFit PTY before starting college in the fall at Palm Beach State College. She also landed an intern spot at the box, and is helping CrossFit athletes of all ages and impressing the coaches with her skills at such young age herself.
Mica’s dad, Jorge Huerta, is proud of his daughter’s hard work over the past two years she has been CrossFitting. He says she inspires him and even challenges him to be a better athlete. He often wears a shirt that reads, “My girl is stronger than me” to prove it.
“I actually need to contact the t-shirt company and tell them, I need them to make a shirt that says, ‘My girls are stronger than me,’” Jorge laughs.
Jorge, 46, is not only the father to the 17-year-old rising CrossFit competitor, Mica, but he is also the proud husband to CrossFit success story, Karen (she lost 85 pounds since starting two-and-a-half years ago). He says he couldn’t be happier than he is today — sharing the CrossFit Games Open with his family.
This year, Jorge is also competing alongside Mica for his second time in the Open, while wife Karen supports them both. Although Jorge acknowledges he may never be a Games athlete, he loves how CrossFit has bonded his family.
However, Mica and Jorge were not always convinced CrossFit was for them — it took witnessing Karen’s transformation through CrossFit before they decided to give it a shot.
“I was overweight and out of shape,” Karen explains.
“We were living in Mexico, for Jorge’s job, designing golf courses, and our house sitter back in Florida told us he started this thing called CrossFit. The more I looked into it online, I made it my goal to start getting in shape, so when we returned home, I could join his box and start CrossFit.”
Since there were no boxes in Mexico at the time, Karen went to work, walking daily, as well as doing her own version of CrossFit at a local globo gym.
“I thought she was crazy,” both Jorge and Mica say, simultaneously.
“She’d come home and talk about what she had done at the gym that day, and there was no way I wanted to feel that way. I played soccer growing up and was a runner so I didn’t need CrossFit,” Jorge says.
“All I knew is she was doing this really intense workout thing at the gym, and I didn’t workout or do any of that. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and have fun,” Mica says of her 15-year-old self.
“My family didn’t have to like it, or do it, but it was working for me,” Karen says.
As soon as the crew moved back to Florida, Karen joined the box, started eating a paleo diet and the pounds started falling off.
Mica says she was impressed by her mom’s change, and she often found herself at the gym after her mom picked her up from school, watching Karen workout and cheering her on.
“When I actually started seeing it, I thought, ‘Wow, this looks cool, but this looks hard,’” Mica says.
However, with some strong prodding and encouragement from the members and coaches of the gym (including 2011 and 2012 Games competitor, Chase Daniels), she decided to go for it.
“Everyday that I’d sit on the side, people would say, ‘Come on, you should try it!’ So one day, I did, and I loved it,” Mica says.
Once Mica stepped up to the barbell for the first time, there was no turning back and Karen had a CrossFit companion in the family.
“My first WOD took me the whole class and part of the next class, as well. But, like my mom, CrossFit has taught me whatever I put my mind to, I can do it, and I finished,” Mica says.
Gradually, milestones such as unassisted pull-ups, double-unders, muscle-ups and squat cleans were things she was able to share with her mom.
“They’d come home talking about the (workout) of the day or the amount of weight they had cleaned, like it was some other language. It was their thing,” Jorge says.
CrossFit was just their thing until February 2012. Karen got sick with a cold and Jorge found himself driving carpool and taking 16-year-old Mica to the box for her workouts.
“Since I had to take her to workout, I thought, I might as well give it a try. It had been a while since I had tried it with Karen, so I figured I might as well get a workout in instead of sitting around waiting on Mica,” Jorge says.
After those two weeks were up, and Karen was feeling better, the Huerta clan officially had three CrossFitters in the family, with the occasional drop-in of their oldest daughter, Adriana, to a class.
While the Huertas currently CrossFit at different boxes (Karen at Gardens CrossFit in Jupiter, Fla., Jorge at CrossFit PTY in Panama, where he often travels for his work, and Mica, both at Hard Exercise Works in West Palm Beach when she is home in Florida, and currently CrossFit PTY while visiting her dad), when they do come together, they say they can’t help but talk about the crazy workout that day, a new PR or the latest news from the Open.
Jorge and Karen also recently discovered a new hobby in taking pictures of CrossFit events and athletes at local competitions.
Mica says her parents’ support is what helps keep her going.
“It’s very cool to have them there, often times right beside me with the camera, since they are taking pictures of everyone at a lot of my events. They cheer me on, ‘Just seven more!’ or whatever it is during my WODs, and it gives me that extra boost to get me through the workout,” Mica says.
Above all, Jorge and Karen say CrossFit has also become one of their primary parenting tools for both their daughters.
“We always tell them, ‘Do your best. You don’t have to be the best, but you need to do your best.’ That’s plenty good enough,” Karen says.