Emily Abbott and Lucas Parker take gold at the West Regional.
In the first meeting of the North West and Canada West Regions, two Canadians came on top: Lucas Parker and Emily Abbott.
The most dramatic competition was among the men. Going into the final event, the points were so close among the top 10 no man was guaranteed a trip to Carson, California.
In the end, Parker’s second-place finish on Event 7 pushed him to the top.
“This was a lot harder than years past,” Parker said. “I’m usually fairly confident throughout the competition. This year, I knew I could make it, but in my head, I came here to win.”
“This is my fifth year at the Games,” Parker said. “I think I’m overdue for a top finish.”
It was a different story for the women. Emily Abbott was in first place throughout the entire weekend. She said her advantage going into Day 3 did not change her approach.
“I didn't care what the point spread was. That doesn't change the workout plan. You have to go in and give it everything,” Abbott said.
When Cody Anderson does well, he does extraordinarily well.
In the 2014 Games, Anderson surprised the crowd by taking a first in the Muscle-up Biathlon. Today, in Event 6, Anderson took a decisive first place, a minute ahead of second-place Kevin Simons. The win moved Anderson from eighth to fifth place.
Anderson’s performance was a master class in how to pace a CrossFit event.
Cole Sager, Lucas Parker and Mitch Barnard traded off the lead for the first two rounds, breaking up their pull-ups and push-ups, pushing hard, trying to stay in the lead. However, this 5-round triplet of rowing, chest-to-bar pull-ups and strict deficit handstand push-ups can punish the athlete who comes out too fast.
In the third round, Anderson made his move.
Although he had been quietly completing his pull-ups and handstand push-ups unbroken, Anderson switched into a higher gear for the last two rounds.
While the other men broke their pull-ups into sets of two and three, Anderson continued to complete the 16 reps in one set. His body betrayed no fatigue, moving from the pull-ups into 9 unbroken strict handstand push-up. His fourth and fifth rounds looked faster and smoother than the first.
Anderson said pacing an event is something that took experience.
"When I first started CrossFit, it was hard to not sprint out of the gate, you just want to go really hard. I think it just comes with experience, how to control your adrenaline,” Anderson said.
Sager and Barnard, the early leaders, began stalling out in the handstand push-ups.
This allowed Kevin Simons to pull ahead and come in second.
“(The event) turned out to be in my wheelhouse,” Simons said. “I wanted to break up the pull-ups in two sets and hit the handstand push-ups in threes,” he said.
“Once I moved the chess piece (the final time), I kinda saw where I was. I decided to push it,” Simons said.
Sager took eighth place and Barnard 14th. Those finishes moved both athletes out of the top five.
Now that Anderson is in fifth, he is determined to hold onto his spot. He thinks Event 7 will be a good one for him.
“I practiced that one,” Anderson said. “The muscle ups are good for me and the cleans will be ok. I am mindful about jumping over the bar. It seems that people are tripping.”
"The next event is just a sprint—you can let your adrenaline work in your favor. It is only a minute and a half long, less than a minute hopefully. That's one where you can feed off of everybody else and go as hard as you can,” he said.
1. Cody Anderson (11:19.5)
2. Kevin Simons (12:19.4)
3. Apollo Lewis (12:19.5)
4. Joe Scali (12:55.0)
5. Zach Carlin (12:56.4)
Event 7 was when everything changed.
The points were so close among the top 10 men, anything could happen in this event.
And it did.
Going into the event, Cole Sager was in seventh place. He needed his muscle-ups to be quick, so he devised an unusual muscle-up strategy.
Sager put his hands on the rings, and instead of throwing his legs back in a kip, he popped his hips in what was almost a strict muscle-up. This gave Sager the slight lead he needed. He was the first man to the clean ladder, followed by Cody Anderson and Lucas Parker.
Sager aggressively cleaned the weight, leaping over one bouncing bar to the next. Parker gave him a chase, but Sager made it to the finish in first. The win moved Sager into second place overall, earning him his second trip to the Games.
“The crowd this weekend was amazing. I have been to some amazing stadiums events (Sager is a former University of Washington football player), and this is one of the best crowds. I’m so thankful for everyone that is a part of it,” Sager said.
Brent Fikowski, who occupied the top spot on the leaderboard all weekend, was in second going into this event, even though he took 20th on Event 6.
A 14th-place finish on Event 7 moved Fikowski down to seventh place, and Kevin Simons, who took fourth, to moved to third place.
And Lucas Parker, who was in third place going into the event, took second, allowing him to win the Regional.
“I had a feeling Event 7 would be decent (for me),” Parker said. “I’m a little peeved to take second. These workouts that Dave Castro comes up with, there are there to thrill the crowd and stress the athlete.”
Joe Scali took the hotly contested fifth-place spot. He will go to the Games for the first time.
“Going to the Games has always been a dream of mine,” Scali said. “I've made so many sacrifices, I've lost friends and sleep and time with family. This is just awesome.”
1. Cole Sager (1:19.2)
2. Lucas Parker (1:19.7)
3. Zach Carlin (1:21.1)
4. Kevin Simons (1:22.8)
5. Cody Anderson (1:23.6)
1. Lucas Parker (563 points)
2. Cole Sager (543 points)
3. Kevin Simons (541 points)
4. Tyson Takasaki (540 points)
5. Joe Scali (539 points)
Only two women at the West Regional finished Event 6: 43-year-old Jolaine Undershute and Jessica Core.
Regan Huckaby, who has been outside the top five all weekend, took fifth, moving her into fifth overall going into the final event.
The winner of Event 7 was Jessica Core, moving her into third place. Although Core has competed at the Games five times as a member of the CrossFit Fort Vancouver team, this year is her first time competing at a regional event.
Just as with the male competitors, the athletes who led in the early rounds were not the overall winners. Emily Abbott and Carleen Mathews started off in the lead, with Core in third.
Regan Huckaby stayed in third place in the early rounds, moving into second place at the beginning of the fourth round. While she was on the rower, Huckaby looked into the crowd and smiled.
After the event she said she was smiling at her son and husband, who were cheering her on. (Huckaby has two children: a three year old and a five year old.)
“They are the reason I do CrossFit,” Huckaby said.
Then, in the fourth round—when it mattered most—Core took the lead. She completed the 16 chest-to-bar pull-ups in two sets, and the 9 handstand push-ups unbroken.
This gave Core a 30-second lead over Emily Abbott going into the fifth round, one she expanded by again completing all 9 handstand push-ups unbroken.
"On the handstand pushups, I just wanted to go on how they felt,” Core said. “That mat on the floor (under the deficit) was money,” she said.
Core said she knew Event 6 would be a good one for her.
“Yeah, (it was on) my radar. I maybe have an advantage with my height on the handstand pushups,” she said.
Going into Event 7, Huckaby has a slim 10-point lead over sixth place.
She said she’s looking forward to the last event.
“I think it is one of the funnest events of the weekend,” Huckaby said.
Event 6 Results
1. Jessica Core (14:58.8)
2. Jolaine Undershute (15:52.2)
3T. Emily Abbott (CAP+2)
3T. Carleen Mathews (CAP+2)
5. Regan Huckaby (CAP+10)
Regan Huckaby made it to the Games last year, and she said a highlight of the experience was the Speed Clean Ladder.
“I made the final heat. I love lifting heavy weights. I am stoked,” she said before Event 7 began.
In Event 7, all that lay between Huckaby and a buffet of heavy weights were 15 muscle-ups. Huckaby worked through them quickly and was the first woman to the ladder. She moved smoothly through the first three cleans, and then on the fourth—a bar loaded with 165-lb.—she missed the lift. Huckaby made it on her second attempt, cleaned final 175-lb. bar, and finished in first in 2:02.
“I did 1:47 in practice—a little bit slower today,” Huckaby said. “But that is to be expected, some fatigue. I wanted to come out ahead on that one and I did, so I am stoked,” she said.
The win moved Huckaby into fourth place overall, earning her a second trip to the Games.
This year, Huckaby said she is going to work on her mental game.
“I think this year I am going to try to mentally prepare better. Last year was mentally exhausting, so this year I will be going through some training between the ears,” Huckaby said.
Alex Parker finished Event 7 in 13th, but she took fifth overall.
“It was a surprise (to finish top five),” Parker said. “I just had to make sure I performed to my capabilities,” she said.
“I have a lot of training ahead of me. I'm a little scared, some of those (Games) athletes are ridiculous,” Parker said.
“I was already taking this summer off to train. Now instead of training for regionals and the Open next year, I'm training for something a little bit closer.”
Event 7 Results
1. Regan Huckaby (2:02.5)
2. Tia Wright (2:17.0)
3. Caitlin Ritchey (2:17.8)
4. Carleen Mathews (2:21.5)
5. Whitney Darchuk-Parenteau (2:39.4)
1. Emily Abbott (584 points)
2. Carleen Mathews (566 points)
3. Jessica Core (533 points)
4. Regan Huckaby (506 points)
5. Alex Parker (483 points)