Conjugate Black, NapTown Blue, and Maximus will represent the Central East at the CrossFit Games.
At the start of the season the Director of the CrossFit Games, Dave Castro, said that the Open was designed to determine the fittest.
The Open seems to have done its job.
After eight regional events, the teams representing the Central East Region at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games are the region’s top teams in the Open, CrossFit Conjugate Black (21 points), CrossFit NapTown Blue (46 points) and CrossFit Maximus (48 points).
"It's still in that point that it's hard to put words to it,” said CrossFit Conjugate Black teammate Hunter Britt. “We hoped for it, but now it's actually happened so it's pretty nice."
The podium finish came as sweet relief for CrossFit NapTown Blue, who missed qualification last year by two points.
CrossFit NapTown Blue teammate Peter Brasovan described the feeling as "incredible, incredible absolutely,” after the team secured their first trip to the Games.
With a barrier of just seven points between CrossFit Maximus and fourth-place team SPC CrossFit before the final event, CrossFit Maximus can finally relax, now that they hold their ticket to Carson.
"I kinda feel relieved,” said teammate Jennifer Bradford. “We had so many ups and downs this week, so I'm kinda relieved right now and pretty excited."
Teams looked like an army invading a foreign land located somewhere just beyond the Rogue rig, as they advanced in lines down the competition floor in the seventh event.
After pairs moved through the 500-m row and 125 double-unders each, it was grip that made the difference for early heats. Pairs who dropped their bars after each set of five deadlifts saved their hands for the rig.
Later, however, it was all about who could hold on the longest. And for the first time in the Central East, an event record was broken and then matched by two teams across separate heats.
Shaving 16 seconds off of Australian team CrossFit Active Units’ previous time, team Jacked and Tan of CrossFit Ktown finished the event in 15:09. In the next heat, CrossFit Conjugate Black would tie the time.
Before ten minutes had passed, Jacked and Tan had their first pair on the finish mat. Book ending themselves by sending their fastest couples out first and last, the team’s final pair divided their deadlifts and toes-to-bars into sets of 15 unbroken reps.
The team might have been one second faster if its last man on the rig hadn’t forgotten his final rep, sending the duo back to the for one more toes-to-bar before hitting the mat.
The record was a pleasant surprise.
"I didn't even know the event record, but I knew in practice we were hitting around (fifteen minutes),” said teammate Jessie Boaz. “So we were hoping for some really good times."
For most of the final heat, CrossFit Conjugate Black, CrossFit Maximus and team SPC CrossFit traded the lead. Though team SPC CrossFit was the first to sent a couple to the finish mat at 9:14, CrossFit Maximus and CrossFit Conjugate Black had the faster third pairs.
Going rep for rep throughout the deadlifts, heat three came down to the rig. Though CrossFit Conjugate Black had dropped from the bar after each set of five toes-to-bars through the first 40 reps, they hung on for the final ten, hitting the mat at exactly the same time as Jacked and Tan did one heat earlier.
"We don't really change our strategy based on other teams,” said CrossFit Conjugate Black teammate Hunter Britt said. “We definitely derive our intensity from them."
Though team Jacked and Tan’s record-breaking performance moved the team from 12th-place to 10th overall, going into the final event, the top three teams remain unshaken.
Holding 19 points, CrossFit Conjugate Black has established their dominance with a 23-point lead. Just one point separates CrossFit NapTown Blue and CrossFit Maximus, with 42 and 43 points, respectively. Team SPC CrossFit sits just outside a podium spot, with seven points to make up in the final event.
Team Event 7 Results
1T. CrossFit Conjugate Black (15:09)
1T. Jacked and Tan of CrossFit Ktown (15:09)
3. CrossFit Maximus (15:31)
After a regional weekend packed with ladders, relays and complicated rep schemes, the final event was as elegant as it was simple: a straightforward couplet of pull-ups and overhead squats.
Elegant on paper, perhaps. After 49 pull-ups, the seven overhead squats (185 lb. / 115 lb.) looked heavy. Many teammates struggled to break parallel and stand up with the weight.
When the final teams’ names were announced overhead, screams of support resounded around the arena. As athletes went into play, all eyes went to the leaders in the center lanes. With CrossFit Conjugate Black solidly in first with a 23-point lead before the event, the race was for second and third.
"It's just about knowing what each individual can do,” Chris Walker of CrossFit Maximus said before the event. “You won't be as fresh as when we practiced them. Just be smart, don't fail any reps, and follow the game plan."
At 4:35, CrossFit Conjugate Black, CrossFit Maximus and CrossFit Nashville had half their athletes on the floor. While CrossFit Nashville and CrossFit Maximus broke, Sam Dancer repped out seven unbroken overhead squats with a narrow grip.
Team SPC CrossFit got their break as CrossFit Maximus’ third athlete struggled with the weight, suffering several no-reps and taking long breaks to consult his teammates for advice.
As the fifth athlete for both CrossFit Conjugate Black and SPC CrossFit traded the pull-ups rep for rep, CrossFit NapTown Blue overtook CrossFit Maximus while their fifth athlete struggled on the rig. As her judged flashed the no-rep sign, she chose to finish her pull-ups in singles.
Just after 10 minutes, CrossFit Conjugate Black and SPC CrossFit sent their final females to the rig, but team SPC CrossFit’s Julianne Broadbent was the first to reach her barbell. After an easy power snatch, she went unbroken on the overhead squats and hit the mat at 11:21, giving her team their second event win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make up the seven-point gap between SPC CrossFit and CrossFit Maximus. Though team SPC CrossFit left the floor after Event 8 with a win, it was CrossFit Maximus who left with the third ticket to the CrossFit Games.
CrossFit NapTown Blue’s fourth-place event finish was good enough to keep them in second overall with 46 points, and CrossFit Conjugate Black’s second-place finish added but a two points to their overall total, finishing the regional with 21 points and the title of fittest team in the Central East.
"I was extremely happy with how we performed,” Hunter Britt said of CrossFit Conjugate Black’s first-place finish. “We stuck to our game plan the entire time pretty much, a few changes here and there, but everyone performed exactly as we hoped they would. It worked out well."
Team Event 8 Results
1. SPC CrossFit (11:21)
2. CrossFit Conjugate Black (11:42)
3. Team Plymouth CrossFit (13:41)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. CrossFit Conjugate Black (21)
2. CrossFit NapTown Blue (46)
3. CrossFit Maximus (48)