February 11, 2014
Big Shifts in the South East
By Devin Webb Killmeier
Tunnicliffe, Friedman, Gold and Nasso won’t be in the South East.
Tunnicliffe, Friedman, Gold and Nasso won’t be in the South East.

Without four of the big names in the region, newcomers and veterans will have a chance to make a name for themselves in 2014. 

Emily Bridgers

Taylar Stallings

CrossFit Adrenaline and the Bourdons

Jaime Gold

Cheryl Nasso

Anna Tunnicliffe, Emily Friedman, Jaime Gold and Cheryl Nasso won’t compete in the South East Region this year.

Tunnicliffe and Friedman have moved to the Mid Atlantic, and Nasso has moved to the North East. Gold plans to sit out this year to finish her clinical rotations as she pursues her doctorate in physical therapy.

Without four of the big names in the region, newcomers and veterans will have a chance to make a name for themselves in 2014.

“Of course with Emily (Friedman) and Anna (Tunnicliffe) both leaving the South East, you would think that our region has become easier,” competitor Taylar Stallings said, “but one thing I love about this region is that there are so many newcomers coming in and so many veterans looking for their first time on that podium that it will keep you hungry and still ready to give it everything.”

Many consider only two spots up for grabs, since Talayna Fortunato hasn’t gone anywhere. Fortunato is one of the fittest women in the world, with two first-place finishes at the South East Regional (2012, 2013) and two top-five finishes at the CrossFit Games (third in 2012, fifth in 2013).

This summer, she underwent surgery to remove a heel spur that impacted her performance in the ZigZag Sprint at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. Despite the heel spur, Fortunato finished just seven points behind Lindsey Valenzuela and Valerie Voboril to take fifth overall. After that narrow shut out, expect the quiet but exceptional competitor to come back with a vengeance in 2014.

“I feel like as long as I'm healthy and perform to my capabilities at Regionals, I should be going back to the Games in 2014,” Fortunato said. “I'm actually really excited for this season, as I feel healthier and ahead of where I was at this time last year.”

Emily Bridgers has narrowly missed the CrossFit Games for two years (by one place in 2012 and two places in 2013), and she may finally close the gap in 2014.

“Frankly, I'm tired of fourth place, and I'm hungry for a standout year,” she said.

At Wodapalooza, Bridgers finished behind Sam Briggs, Fortunato and Friedman in—you guessed it—fourth. Facing some of the best athletes in the world gave her an extra boost of confidence.

“(The competition) was a great experience … and I left with confidence that I'm still hanging in there with some of the best in the sport,” Bridgers said. “It was an honor to compete alongside Sam Briggs and hang in there with her on most of the workouts.”

Stallings said she hopes to prove she can do more than lift heavy. The former powerlifter has struggled in long chippers with an emphasis on gymnastics movements like 2013 Regional Events 4 and 6. Over the last few months, she has worked on that weakness.

“I am just trying to be the best all-around athlete I can be,” Stallings said. “I know people mainly see me as a strength (and) power athlete, but I hope to surprise a lot of people this May and prove that I am an athlete nonetheless.”

Lauren Brooks, Sarina Woodworth and Gabrielle Andrews have been excelling in local competitions in the South East, and may come in hot to the Open this year.

Last year, Lindsay Bourdon took first in the South East on three of the five Open workouts, and second on the other two. As the top-ranked woman in the South East and third-ranked woman in the world after the 2013 Open, she surprised everyone by deciding to compete with her team.

Lindsay and her sister, Allison Bourdon, plan on trading the individual competition for the team competition yet again in 2014. With their help, CrossFit Adrenaline took third place at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games and they believe they could put in another great performance this year.

“We decided after we got home from Carson last July that we all had one more good year as six so we are giving it one last go,” Allison said. “We will try our hardest to get back on the podium at Regionals (as a team) to make it back to Cali.”

The sisters hint they may eventually make the switch to individual competition.

“Although some of us compete as individuals throughout the year, there will be no individual competition for any of us—yet!” Allison said. “Who knows what the future holds?”