March 30, 2012
A Calm in the Storm: Brista Mayfield
By Amy Duchene

"I think the biggest thing I gained as a college athlete was the experience of competing in front of huge crowds. It calmed my nerves having done that before and made me ready to compete."

With a slow and steady pace, Brista Mayfield of McKinney, Texas made her way up the South Central Regional Leaderboard. At only 24, Mayfield can now officially add the title of “two-time CrossFit Games Regional qualifier” to her list of athletic and life accomplishments.

As young as she is, age has never been a barrier to Mayfield, who is keenly aware of her strengths and weaknesses, and possesses maturity beyond her years. While she has only recently graduated from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, she has proven that she is an athletic force to be reckoned within the CrossFit arena.

“In the 2011 Open, I finished somewhere around 30th place in the Region [she finished 23rd] and I was excited just to be going to Regionals. In the end, I ended up tying for 9th,” she recalls. “It was such a fun experience for me, but in the year since, I’ve gotten more focused on competing. I’ve done a couple of other team events to stay motivated, and I also competed in the Life as RX Competition this past August as an individual.”

Thanks to this newfound determination and cause, the South Central Region watched as she steadily advanced up the Leaderboard, completing the Open with a staggering jump from her 2011 CrossFit Games Open ranking.  This time, she wrapped up the Open tied for 3rd place within the region.

Mayfield’s persistent improvement CrossFit - both week-to-week and year-to-year - hasn’t gone unnoticed, and she has clearly identified herself as a competitor to watch in San Antonio this April. 

Being the target of her competition isn’t new for Mayfield, though. She’s a lifelong athlete who began learning gymnastics at the age of 7. As she grew, she quickly advanced to the national level, ultimately receiving a scholarship to Texas Women’s University for her aptitude on the uneven bars and open floor.

“I think doing gymnastics for such a long time definitely helped me a lot in CrossFit. From the time that you’re little, you work on core strength, flexibility and body weight movements,” she explains. “I think it really helped me transition into CrossFit, and made it easier to learn to do things like pull-ups, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups and overhead squats. I feel like I can really relate to those and other CrossFit tasks,” she says.

With bodyweight movements serving as her strong suit, Mayfield has spent the last twelve months focusing in on one of her main weaknesses - Olympic lifting. “In the last year, I’ve been trying to work on strength and really focus on getting better at lifting,” she says. “I’ve been working on my technique for the Olympic lifts especially. I went to the Oly cert in November, and that really helped me understand the movements and to work on my own form more.”

Through targeting and improving upon her Olympic weakness, Mayfield was able to succeed in Workout 12.2, a prescription that would have harshly challenged her in 2011. In the second week of the Open, she managed to achieve a 5th place finish in a workout strictly requiring the ability to perform the snatch. She completed the workout with a score of 91, finishing with one solid rep of a 120-pound snatch.

Now, with calm nerves, Mayfield is looking forward to facing an undoubtedly competitive field of athletes at the next stage of the competition.

“I think the biggest thing I gained as a college athlete was the experience of competing in front of huge crowds of people. I wasn’t used to that in high school, but in college there could be thousands of people there, and last year at Regionals, being in front of a crowd of people was OK for me,” she says. “It calmed my nerves having done that before, and made me ready to compete. I’m excited for this year’s Regional, too. I think having last year under my belt, knowing how it works and being better prepared is going to help a lot. I am going to be chasing those people that are ahead of me right now, and anyone else that may come out of the woodwork. Then, hopefully, I’ll be leaving to California. That’s my goal.” 

To support her in her dream of making it all the way to the Games, Mayfield has one unfaltering backer - her husband Jonathon. “My husband is my biggest training partner. We WOD together whenever we can, and always try to beat each other. He started CrossFit before I did because I had to wait until I was done with school, but it’s definitely something that’s a huge part of our lives now. I love what we have and I like the competition we have when we WOD. If I know I have to catch somebody, I am going to do my best to catch up with him and that drives me.”

With the 2012 Open now completed, Mayfield will continue to train and use the support of her family to push herself to new limits. At the edges of these new limits, she hopes to find the key skills and strength that it will take to advance all the way to the Games. After all, this is what she was made for, and she’s willing to work for it. “For me, CrossFit has really filled my drive to compete and win. When I finished gymnastics, I had been competing for 14 years, and finding CrossFit helped fulfill that need. What I love about it though is that you can always get better. You’ll never get stuck at one spot, and you’re always improving on something. There is always something else that you can do to make yourself better, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”