In the first meeting of Northern and Southern California at a regional CrossFit competition, it was Northern California that came out on top.
NorCal CrossFit, to be specific.
The team finished the California Regional exactly as it started: in first place. Out of seven events, NorCal CrossFit set four event records and earned just as many first-place finishes.
Jason Khalipa said he enjoyed the switch from individual to team competitor.
“Being on a team has been so different but so much more fun,” Khalipa said. “Being an individual athlete, I don’t usually get to have fun.”
“If you’re not having fun, it’s pointless,” his teammate Miranda Oldroyd said.
CrossFit 808 took the second-place spot, followed by Kinnick in third. Showing the team’s experience as six-time Games competitors, CrossFit Invictus spent the morning moving from seventh place to finish in fourth place overall.
“We were able to pull it all together,” Catherine Blatner of CrossFit Invictus said.
Last year, Kinnick missed going to the Games, finishing in fifth place. This year, the team left nothing to chance, anchored by husband-and-wife duo Jeremy and Giermaine Kinnick.
“Everything went pretty much as planned for the weekend. We’ll have a light week and then we’ll be back at it,” Jeremy said of preparing for the Games.
In Event 6, NorCal CrossFit didn’t just set an event record. They demolished it.
NorCal CrossFit finished Event 6 in 16:39, more than a minute faster than the record set by Ute CrossFit (17:57.9). The second-place team, Kinnick, finished close to 3 minutes behind NorCal.
“We were really excited to go into this event,” Oldroyd, of NorCal CrossFit, said. Despite the presence of former Games champion, Khalipa, on the team, Oldroyd said it’s teamwork that has carried the team this far.
“We have a really strong team,” Oldroyd said, “all six members.”
In this event, which consists of GHD sit-ups, muscle-ups and hang power cleans, the women must finish all their work before the men start. The NorCal women gained such a commanding lead for their team, they almost finished their 50 135-lb. hang power cleans before the women on the other teams had finished the 50 muscle-ups.
As Kinnick worked its way into second place, a battle for third began to develop as Invictus pulled away from the pack. These former champions, who are used to dominating the SoCal Region, have struggled at this year’s competition. Going into this event they were sitting in seventh place, well out of the top five.
The men of Invictus began to pull ahead of CrossFit 808 on the muscle-ups, and opened up their lead on the 205-lb. hang power cleans to finish in third place, 37 seconds ahead of CrossFit 808.
The third-place finish moved Invictus into the top five, and within sight of the 2015 Games.
Heather Hippensteel of Invictus said their secret was following the plan laid out ahead of time. Although they never ran through the entire event in practice, they knew exactly how much work each athlete would do.
“We had a strategy, based on who was doing the bulk of the muscle-ups. We changed a little on the muscle-ups, but we stuck to our plan,” Hippensteel said. “We’ve got one more event, and we’re just going to do our best. We just have to stick to our plan. I think we’ll do well.”
Team Event 6 Results
1. NorCal CrossFit (16:39.7)
2. Kinnick (19:01.5)
3. Invictus (19:09.8)
4. CrossFit 808 (19:46.6)
5. CrossFit Santa Cruz (20:14.9)
Before Event 7, Oldroyd said her team, NorCal CrossFit, was “ready to have fun.”
“It’s Day 3 and we’re a little more tired, so we’ll see if everything goes to plan,” she continued.
As it turns out, a tired NorCal CrossFit is still a record-breaking team. The team won Event 7, setting an event record with a time of 18:54. No other team in the California Regional finished this event.
Khalipa was the first NorCal team member to begin, starting off with a 30-calorie row. Khalipa proved his rowing prowess at the 2013 Games, when he took first in both Row 1 and Row 2, the 2,000-meter and 21,097-meter rows. Khalipa was the first athlete to accumulate 30 calories on the rower, followed by an athlete from Diablo CrossFit Anejo.
Although Khalipa started off his team strong, this is not an event that is won by one person. Rather than completing the strict handstand push-ups in sets of five or fewer, the NorCal athletes each started off a set of 15 unbroken. While Molly Vollmer completed her 30 toes-to-bars, Khalipa hung off the bar with his hands close together, using a mixed grip.
All alone on the floor, well ahead of the competition, Khalipa wrapped up his first regional competition on a team with a 50-foot overhead walking lunge. With his work done, there was nothing left for Khalipa to do but wait, and cheer.
His team came through, never slowing down.
“Everyone knows what their job is, and they just execute it,” Khalipa said, “nothing more, nothing less.”
The final NorCal athlete, Oldroyd, started her overhead walking lunges at about 18 minutes. She had 2 minutes to complete the event, but 1 minute to set a record.
Oldroyd went for the record, completed the lunges unbroken in less than a minute.
Second place on this event and overall went to CrossFit 808.
“We practiced over and over, but you have to be flexible,” Kyla Evers of CrossFit 808 said. “The handstand push-ups really threw a wrench in things for us.”
While NorCal CrossFit, CrossFit 808 and Kinnick were comfortably in the top spots all weekend, it was CrossFit Invictus that had the most dramatic performance, taking sixth in Event 7 and finishing fourth overall, securing their seventh straight Games appearance.
“We never ran through these events fully,” Catherine Blatner of Invictus said, “it was a new experience.”
A new, but successful experience for the team, who ended the weekend in fourth place, just 2 points ahead of fifth-place Diablo CrossFit Anejo.
Team Event 7 Results
1. NorCal CrossFit (18:54.6)
2. CrossFit 808 (CAP+188)
3. CrossFit 808 Plan B (CAP+192)
4. Kinnick (CAP+199)
5. Brick Nation (CAP+244)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. NorCal CrossFit (670 points)
2. CrossFit 808 (635 points)
3. Kinnick (572 points)
4. Invictus (516 points)
5. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (514 points)