May 29, 2013
Chicago Bound: CrossFit Bellator
By Amy Quimby

“I think having been to Regionals before will benefit our team this year ... Additionally, we have trained smarter and harder than we trained last year.”

Photos by: Jeffrey Cohen

For the second year since its inception, CrossFit Bellator will be sending a team to Regionals. A third-place finish in the Open secured their return trip to Chicago.

A high level of competition is considered the norm at this box, co-owned by 2012 Games athlete, Justin Allen, and two-time Regional qualifier, Bob Cole.

Allen and Cole combined forces in late 2011. At the time, Allen was the owner of CrossFit Bixby and Cole was a member of another local affiliate. Allen was ready to expand, but was already balancing a full-time career, as well as a family. He knew he needed a business partner. Cole was the perfect fit.

They renamed the affiliate and CrossFit Bellator officially opened in October 2011. Both men are strong in their faith, put family first and have successful careers outside of CrossFit. Leading by example, with the help of experienced trainers, Allen and Cole have successfully built one of the top CrossFit boxes in the state.

While Allen will be competing for a return spot to the Games, Bellator’s other top athletes are all going team. Bellator’s female team members all finished the Open in the top 75 in the region. This includes 13th ranked Melissa Dinsmore.

With stats like a 200-lb. hang clean, 225-lb. front squat and a 3:21 Fran, Dinsmore could easily be a force on the individual side. However, she has remained focused on team. She’s changed up her programming this year and made some huge gains. 

 “Since about mid August, my training partner and I have been strictly following Ben Bergeron's Competitors WOD programming,” Dinsmore says. “We have had nothing but positive gains and results from it. It helps to have someone with whom you can train who will push you and make you better.”

Additionally, she has added rest days, focused on getting more sleep and dialed in her nutrition.

Like many other top athletes, Dinsmore and her teammates remained focused on Regionals throughout the Open season.   

“Last year was my first Open and I did most of the workouts twice. I made a decision this year to complete each Open Workout one time,” Dinsmore says.

She admits it was tough knowing a few more reps were a possibility the second try and would have made a huge difference in ranking. 

“In the long run, it turned out to be less stressful and provided a faster recovery time so that my teammates and I could continue training for Regionals.”

Bellator’s team will have four returning members — Dinsmore, Cole and Sean Malloy, a three-time Regional qualifier. Malloy brings a large amount of experience and leadership to the team. Regularly working out with Allen has helped Cole and Malloy take things to the next level. 

“We all want to continue to make gains and it helps to be there doing it with other top athletes, who also happen to be your good friends,” Malloy says.  

Following their Open finish, Team Bellator has enlisted the help of Allen’s coach, Dennis Berry. His expertise has been very helpful in preparing the team for Regionals.

“I think having been to Regionals before will benefit our team this year. Several of last year's team members are back and our new additions prove to be strong and up to the challenge,” Dinsmore says.  “Additionally, we have trained smarter and harder than we trained last year.”

One of the team’s new members, Mindy Branchcomb, has recently placed second and third in the two largest CrossFit events hosted in Oklahoma. Competing against big names like Ginny King and Christina Merlo, Branchcomb has made a name for herself on the local CrossFit scene. 

Members of the team agree that their greatest strength is how close they are outside of the gym. Their families are close, they regularly socialize and their kids play together. They feel this bond makes them even stronger when competing alongside each other.

“We all work hard and learn from each other. We are not just teammates, but also good friends,” Dinsmore says.

Malloy makes the goal clear.

“We placed sixth last year at Regionals. We want top three this year!”