NorCal CrossFit finished Day 1 of the California Regional in first place, but holding onto that spot will not be easy.
“Everyone has seen me as an individual competitor in the last seven or eight years,” NorCal CrossFit competitor Jason Khalipa said, “but that Jason has retired. A new Jason has appeared. There is no ‘me,’ no ‘I.’ It’s all about the team.”
The California Regional has one of the toughest team competitions in the world. Although NorCal CrossFit easily won Event 1, it took third in Event 2, behind Diablo CrossFit Anejo and Kinnick.
The end of Day 1 saw Invictus, the 2014 Affiliate Cup champions, in fifth place, However, this team has experience on its side as it looks to make its seventh consecutive Games appearance.
No one competitor can assure a team victory, especially when the NorCal and SoCal regions combine for the first time.
NorCal CrossFit finished Event 1 so quickly that even the teammates seemed surprised by what they had done.
The team blazed through the mash-up of partner deadlifts and synchronized chest-to-bar pull-ups, setting an event record with a time of 12:22.
“We annihilated our practice times,” NorCal’s Pat Barber said after the event. “Our best practice time was 14:00.”
NorCal finished more than 2 minutes ahead of Invictus, which finished in second. NorCal’s time was also more than a minute faster than the previous event record of 13:28, set last weekend by Ute CrossFit at the South Regional.
Khalipa said his training didn’t change until the regional events were announced. Since then, Khalipa has practiced with the team, working around his teammates’ schedules.
“It’s been a huge shift, but I don’t regret it,” Khalipa said.
Teamwork was evident throughout the event as Molly Vollmer and Nick Zambruno of NorCal took an early lead that grew substantially when Khalipa and Miranda Oldroyd, the second pair, began their deadlifts and pull-ups.
Khalipa and Oldroyd started with beautifully synchronized butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups, Khalipa looking over at Oldroyd to maintain the rhythm. Even though they eventually switched to kipping pull-ups, Khalipa and Oldroyd completed their work in about 8 minutes, more than a minute ahead of the second Invictus pair.
Then it was up to the last NorCal pair, featuring Barber and Jen Zambruno, to hold the lead. Even with Zambruno doing a few extra pull-ups after Barber let go of the pull-up bar, the two held the lead and clinched the event win.
The Invictus team took second with a time of 14:43.
“We stuck to the plan and it worked out,” Bryce Smith of Invictus said. “We’re very happy with the end result.”
Holding onto third place in Event 1 is CrossFit Kinnick, whose team was anchored by husband-and-wife pair, Jeremy and Giermaine Kinnick.
“We’ve been married for nine years,” Jeremy said, “so that’s how long we’ve been practicing.”
Team Event 1 Results
1. NorCal CrossFit (12:22.0)
2. Invictus (14:43:7)
3. Kinnick (15:18:9)
4. CrossFit 808 (15:20:5)
5. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (15:58:8)
Diablo CrossFit Anejo missed qualifying for the CrossFit Games last year. The four-time Games team competitors don’t want that to happen again.
Holding off both NorCal CrossFit and Kinnick, Diablo CrossFit won Event 2 with a time of 18:45.
In Event 2, the men took on 175 snatches, 25 rope climbs and 115 thrusters, followed by the women. In this event, minimizing transition time is key, but the victory came down to the women and rope climbs.
“The guys just had to snatch and then they got a vacation,” said Elyse Umeda of CrossFit 808, speaking to the importance of the women in this event. “The snatch to the rope climb wasn’t too bad—the rope climb to the thruster was worse.”
All three men of CrossFit 808 got on the finish mat first, but it was the Diablo women who moved their team ahead to take a victory.
CrossFit Diablo’s strategy, Kayla Clark said, was simple: “Just rope climb as fast as you can.”
The key to Diablo’s win was to ignore athletes’ exhausted forearms and hands from the snatches and rope climbs and hold onto the bar during the thrusters.
“We did 20 unbroken thrusters out of the gate,” Clark said, “then sets of 10.”
Team Event 2 Results
1. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (18:45.8)
2. Kinnick (19:13.9)
3. NorCal CrossFit (19:16.3)
4. CrossFit 808 (19:20.8)
5. CrossFit CrownTown (19:38.3)
1. NorCal CrossFit (190 points)
2. Kinnick (185 points)
3. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (180 points)
4. CrossFit 808 (170 points)
5. Invictus (158 points)
6. CrossFit Foothill (148 points)
7. Team CrownTown (145 points)
8. CrossFit Davis (138 points)
9. CrossFit CSA (136 points)
10. CFCM (130 points)