They may not be the headliners, but Crump and Paquette could well be the best battle of the 2014 Canada East Regional.

They may not be the headliners, but Crump and Paquette could well be the best battle of the 2014 Canada East Regional.

Simon Paquette

Brandon Crump

Brandon Crump

At the 2013 Canada East Regional, the most exciting battle wasn’t for first place.

Albert-Dominic Larouche dominated from the start and had first place locked up. Fans turned their attention to two young challengers: Brandon Crump and Simon Paquette.

Crump appeared poised to clinch a spot after the first day, but as Saturday night dreams became Sunday morning reality, he watched his ticket to Carson, Calif., slip into the hands of Paquette. Crump struggled on Event 5—the deadlift/box jump couplet. Obviously discouraged, his rank dropped and Paquette swept in to take the second coveted spot to the CrossFit Games.

“The whole weekend started to add up, and the 315 started to feel like 500,” Crump said six months later. “It got in my head, and I don’t think it helped my potential.”

A fresh season dawned, and the 2014 Open sorted the top Canada East competitors. Crump and Paquette finished within two points of each other—fourth and third, respectively. Though they boasted different strengths in 2013—Paquette is a rock-solid lifter, and Crump a body-weight ninja—the 2014 Open placed them 105th and 106th worldwide with Paquette in the lead.

They may not be the headliners, but Crump and Paquette could well be the best battle of the 2014 Canada East Regional.

Paquette finished 26th at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. His athleticism was obvious when he finished third in Row 1, hinting at his potential over the long term.

“I admit, I’m more confident this year,” he said. “I was sick with pneumonia for the last two workouts of the Open, and I still did well.”

Still coached by Roch Proteau, Paquette reached a 360-lb. jerk and a 305-lb. power clean over the winter. And he hasn’t lost any ground on his work capacity, posting 279 reps on 14.2 and 398 on 14.1—the same score as Crump.

“I think my advantage is my consistency,” Paquette said. “I’d like to see a long and heavy chipper at regionals.”

Paquette has been training with top Canada East athlete Pascal Baillargeon—10th after the Open. He said he feels more confident in 2014 after proving himself last year. He plans to maintain his training pace—and joked that he’d try to improve his English before May 16.

Crump is equally confident, though he’s bringing a different body to regionals in 2014.

“I think I’m a different athlete now,” he said. “Last year, all the body-weight stuff would have been my strength. This year, I’m a little heavier and a lot stronger.”

After being disappointed in his deadlift/box jump score at the 2013 regional, Crump pushed both movements hard.

“I was happy with the deadlift workout in the Open,” Crump said. “I’m trying to get comfortable at the heavy weight.”

He managed 26 deadlifts at 315 lb., for a score of 156 reps.

Other numbers have improved, as well. Crump has a 405-lb. back squat for six reps and 21 unbroken muscle-ups. He’d love to see the deadlift/box jump event again at regionals “to get revenge on it!”

To prepare, he’s practicing previous regional events, playing with odd implements at home. He said he feels well rounded.

Finishing a mere two points behind Paquette in fourth place, Crump is aware the two may be in a close race again. But he won’t count anyone else out either.

“He’s an amazing athlete, but we can’t rule out all the other top dogs at all … (Chris) Cristini, (Matthieu) Dubreucq,” Crump said. “I think it’s always going to be tight at the top.”

There are no certainties in Toronto beyond that promise.