The California Regional individual leaderboard has some new names at the top.
After two events, both the top-five men and women include some athletes who have never competed as individuals at the CrossFit Games.
The challenge for Brooke Ence, Kirsten Pedri, Rasmus Wisbech Andersen and Ben Alderman will be to hold onto those top spots. That’s not an easy task, with athletes like Josh Bridges, Kenneth Leverich, Rebecca Voigt and Valerie Voboril focused on returning to the Games.
Andersen, who was on the Games-winning Invictus team last year, said the transition from team competitor to individual “has been crazy. It’s way less pressure on the team, but I’m calm and excited for the rest of the weekend.”
As for Pedri, her priorities tonight are resting and spending time with family and friends. And “eat lots of food,” she said.
When asked how the first individual event of the 2015 California Regional felt, Dan Bailey had one word: “painful.”
In his case, the pain paid off. Bailey won Event 1 and set an event record with a time of 2:18.
Randy, consisting of 75 snatches, is a blink-and-you-miss-it event. Of course, as most CrossFit athletes know, it’s often the shortest workouts that hurt the most.
Most competitors in the final heat of Event 1 started off muscle-snatching the weight, bending at the waist and not dipping under the bar, making the 75-lb. barbell look like a PVC pipe.
As Bailey pulled ahead of the pack, a few athletes started to falter. Bridges, who power-snatched the bar from the beginning, began to slow, dropping the bar between sets.
Bailey was the first athlete to the last set of 25 snatches. It was only then that he finally began bending his legs.
“Toward the end I had to do four to five power snatches. It was really starting to get harder,” Bailey said.
When Bailey finished his snatches and sprinted to the finish, he was alone on the stadium floor, finishing almost 20 seconds ahead of second-place Jon Pera.
Bailey said his strategy was “fast and smooth. I can crank out 50 snatches a lot faster than that, but I needed to keep consistency, so I dialed back a little,” Bailey said. “I saw one to two guys drop the bar and that gave me the drive to keep going.”
“I demolished my practice time,” Pera said after the event. He finished about 30 seconds faster than his best practice run. “In practice I muscle-snatched a lot more. Here, I power-snatched, I dipped under the bar an inch or 2 inches.”
“I tried to keep moving at the same time as the person next to me. Then I saw (the athlete next to me) drop the bar and I pushed through,” Pera added.
Pera has not been to the Games since 2012, but he said he plans to take this competition one event at a time.
“I’m not going to worry about anyone else,” he said.
Men’s Event 1 Results
1. Dan Bailey (2:18.9)
2. Jon Pera (2:37.4)
3. Neal Maddox (2:37.9)
4. Teddy Hwang (2:38.6)
5. Chad Melton (2:39.5)
The winner of Event 2, Tommy V, was not one of the CrossFit Games veterans in the final heat. The winner—and the only male to finish in under 8 minutes—was Dusty Sulon of CrossFit Danville, competing in the second-to-last heat.
Sulon finished Tommy V in 7:42, well ahead of second-pace Rasmus Wisbech Andersen.
“Rope climbs are probably my best,” Sulon said after the event. His strategy was to rest as little as possible.
“I was hoping to get under 9 minutes,” Sulon said, “but when I saw I had a chance to get under 8 (minutes) I picked it up.”
With its sets of 12, 9 and 6 rope climbs, Tommy V has the most rope climbs in a row of any previous individual CrossFit competition. The athletes in the final heat easily completed the 115-lb. thrusters, but they all carefully managed the rope climbs, wary of burning out their grip and earning a costly no rep.
Josh Bridges took an early lead in the final heat, which he held all the way through to the final 6 rope climbs, until he was overtaken by 6-foot-tall Andersen. Andersen finished in 8:02, 6 seconds ahead of Josh Bridges.
“(Andersen) came out of nowhere,” Bridges said. “I should have been paying more attention.”
Andersen said he practiced on higher ropes, so this climb felt easier than he’s used to.
“It’s not about your grip,” Andersen said. “It’s about getting back up the rope and not feeling sorry for yourself.”
“I didn’t have a set amount of rest, I just took a few deep breaths,” he added of his rope-climbing strategy.
Men’s Event 2 Results
1. Dusty Sulon (7:42.7)
2. Rasmus Wisbech Andersen (8:02.6)
3. Josh Bridges (8:08)
4. Wes Piatt (8:20.6)
5. Dan Bailey (8:30.2)
1. Dan Bailey (180 points)
2. Jon Pera (170 points)
3. Rasmus Wisbech Andersen (166 points)
4. Neal Maddox (163 points)
5. Ben Alderman (140 points)
6. Julian Alcatraz (132 points)
7. Josh Bridges (127 points)
8. Dusty Sulon (120 points)
9. Blair Morrison (118 points)
10. Dakota Rager (114 points)
Event 1: Randy
The final heat of Event 1 was filled with former Games competitors—including a determined-looking Lindsey Valenzuela—but it was a competitor in the second-to-last heat, Ana Caldas of CrossFit Anywhere, who won the event. The 37-year-old former swimmer, who almost qualified for the Portuguese Olympic swim team, finished Randy in 2:30.
“I did it a little faster in practice,” said Caldas whose max snatch is 220 lb. “I got a few no reps, but I just kept going.”
The only woman to come close to Caldas’ time was Jamie Hagiya, who finished in 2:31. Hagiya took fifth place at the 2014 SoCal Regional, but then tore her Achilles in June.
“My Achilles was not an issue,” Hagiya said after the event. “It felt amazing to come back strong after recovering. It was a great first event.”
“Don’t put it down,” Hagiya said of her strategy. “Pick up the pace in the middle and go all out at the end.”
Valenzuela, who finished in 2:39.4 for fourth, walked off the competition floor smiling. “I’m very happy,” Valenzuela said. Just like Hagiya, Valenzuela said her strategy was to just “go.”
Val Voboril and Lauren Fisher struggled with this short and nasty event. Both women power-snatched the weight throughout all 75 reps, and Voboril finished in 22nd place overall and Fisher in 29th, perhaps slowed by her recent foot injury.
However, as all experienced CrossFit competitors know, this is the first of many events. By Sunday, everything could change.
Women’s Event 1 Results
1.Ana C. Caldas (2:30.5)
2. Jamie Hagiya (2:31)
3. Alessandra Pichelli (2:37.7)
4. Lindsey Valenzuela (2:39.4)
5. Brooke Ence (2:42.8)
Event 2: Tommy V
Chyna Cho not only ended the first day of the California Regional with a win on Tommy V, she also set an event record and finished the day in first place overall.
“I was able to (finish) 2 minutes better than my practice time. Adrenaline and competition took over,” Cho said of her time of 7:56.
As with the male competitors, an early lead in Tommy V does not guarantee a win. Brooke Ence and Jamie Hagiya were the first to the rope after the 21 thrusters. Ence looked at her watch between rope climbs, carefully timing her rest periods.
Without a watch, Cho had to rely on another method of timing her rests.
“I made sure to count my breaths,” Cho said. “I started with three slow breaths for a break, but the rope was shorter than the one I practice on, so I was able to do two breaths.”
Cho was first to the second set of thrusters, followed by Chelsey Grigsby. However, no matter how hard they tried, nobody could catch Cho. She finished her last 9 thrusters before any of the other competitors got to the bar.
Cho’s time beat the previous record, set by Kara Webb, by more than 20 seconds.
“I had no idea I beat the event record until after it was all over,” Cho said. “That definitely made it all better.”
“My weekend will really be a rollercoaster,” Cho said at the end of Day 1. “I knew I would be average in the first event, and would do well in the second. I’ll have more ups and downs in the next couple of days, but I’m glad I was able to pad myself with this event.”
Women’s Event 2 Results
1. Chyna Cho (7:56.8)
2. Kirsten Pedri (9:09.7)
3. Chelsey Grigsby (9:41)
4. Jessica Goeser (9:55.5)
5. Brooke Ence (9:57.9)
1. Chyna Cho (173 points)
2. Brooke Ence (160 points)
3. Lindsey Valenzuela (158 points)
4. Kirsten Pedri (152 points)
5. Alessandra Pichelli (151 points)
6. Chelsey Grigsby (145 points)
7. Jamie Hagiya (138 points)
8. Sarah Hopping Estrella (138 points)
9. Rebecca Voigt (124 points)
10. Meaghan Gonzalez (120 points)