June 15, 2012
Ascent to the Top: Bryan Diaz
By Karen Feiner

"Day 2, workout two was an 'Oh shit' moment for everyone across the board."

Bryan Diaz is the comeback kid. The past two years, Diaz has just missed making it to the CrossFit Games, but in 2012, Diaz not only made it to the Games, he made a statement by staying at the top of the Leaderboard throughout the South Central Regional.

There is power and there is will power; Diaz has both in spades. Although his coach, Brian MacKenzie of CrossFit Endurance, couldn’t be at the South Central Regional, Diaz talked to him on the phone before and after every workout, which helped him maintain focus. While it’s hard to believe Diaz has any trouble focusing or staying grounded, he maintains that, like anyone else, there are things that get in his head and MacKenzie knows how to keep him where he needs to be.

“I have an ability to focus really well, but at the same rate there are some points where I’ll start thinking about other things,” he says. ”My focus is not directed towards the right objective.”

Whatever MacKenzie said over the phone seemed to have the desired effect. Diaz’s focus was unshakeable throughout the weekend.

CrossFit rewards the well-rounded athlete. This certainly rang true for Diaz who didn’t dominate any one event – his highest placing was second in Event 4, while the lowest was ninth in Event 1. 

Ironically, the event he saw as the worst was the workout he did the best in. “Day 2, workout two was an, ‘Oh shit’ moment for everyone across the board,” he explains. “I knew it was going to be a hard one for everyone. I knew I was going to go in there and complete it and maintain my pace.”

“I had an approach and a plan going into the workout, but my nerves got to me. I started off too fast to sustain and I felt myself slow … but I had to stay mentally there.”

Diaz may have felt himself slow down, but to everyone watching, he actually accelerated. He caught up to Jason Hoggan and ended up winning his heat.

On the final day, Diaz wasn’t about to lose his grip on his first ticket to Carson, Calif. He continued to be a model of consistency, tying for fifth place on the Snatch Ladder with a lift of 235 pounds and then tying for third on Event 6. “The last workout came down to hearing the bar drop and saying that I’m not going to put it down and that’s how it went at the very end,” he says.

His effort was more than enough, as he finished with a small cushion, 8 points ahead of second-place Hoggan. He was strong in every event, but never won any event. “Everything worked the way I wanted it to, and the way my coach expected it to.”

Immediately following the competition, when asked about preparing for the Games, he said he needed a couple days to figure it out. “Not exactly sure. I have to talk to my coach and see what he wants to change,” he says. “The program has accelerated me this fast the last four to give months, so I don’t expect any major changes.”

After a swift recovery following Regionals, Diaz is feeling great and has gone right back to training in preparation for the Games, as well as helping coach Bayou City’s team that also qualified for the big show.

Over the past three years, Diaz had his sights set on Carson, Calif., to see how he stacks up against the fittest athletes in the world.