With 3 points separating the top-four women, Day 2 at the East Regional begged to add clarity atop a crowded leaderboard.
Dani Horan, vying for her third consecutive CrossFit Games appearance held the slight edge through Day 1’s first two events with Michele Letendre, Kaleena Ladeairous and Kelly Munroe bunched up right behind her.
On the men’s side, Alex Vigneault—who missed the Games on a tiebreaker in 2014—owned a 20-point first-place cushion after Day 1, though perhaps no lead is safe with second-place Games finisher Mat Fraser on the floor. Fraser, former strongman Spencer Hendel—who found himself in fourth after Day 1—and Paul Tremblay looked poised to put on a show in Event 5’s max-snatch event.
But first, Event 3’s brutal chipper promised to fatigue the field and test each athlete’s determination and pain threshold. The punishing endurance event—which opens with a mile on the TrueForm Runner—could prove to be Saturday’s catalyst for the leaderboard, ravaging athletes at previous regionals and leaving just a precious few to cross the finish line.
Hours later, individuals were faced with back-to-back shoulder burners—a timed 250-foot handstand walk (Event 4), followed 1:40 later by two 20-second intervals to attempt a max snatch.
It was record-breaking pace for the first three-quarters of Event 3, a two-athlete race dominated by Kaleena Ladeairous and newcomer Kelly Munroe, both who were ahead of Denae Brown’s incredible 24:31 finish in the Pacific Regional.
In the end, neither woman bested Brown, but Ladeairous—who won the Burden Run at the 2013 Games—showcased her magnificent engine, finding another gear on the final 20 box jump overs to take first place in 25:32. Munroe, a serious underdog who entered regionals as the 25th seed, finished right behind her in 25:48, her second second-place finish of the week.
“She gave me a good push,” Ladeairous said of Munroe. “If she wasn't coming up behind me, I don’t know if I would have gone that fast. That’s the whole point of CrossFit, right?”
Like the teams before them, the individuals opened Saturday on a new piece of equipment, the TrueForm Runner treadmill, which made its regionals debut and was a rough start to a brutal 26-minute-capped chipper that just four women worldwide had ever finished.
Ladeairous made her mile run look easy, getting off in 7:47 and attacking the following 50 overhead squats. She was about a minute ahead of Munroe in getting to the cruel middle portion—100 GHD sit-ups—and stumbled off the machine with about the same lead heading into 150 double-unders. Munroe made her move on the 50 sumo deadlift high pulls, ripping out sets of 5 while Ladeairous stuck to 2s and 3s.
“I think that was the toughest, at least for me,” Munroe said of the high pulls. “You know at the end you're already fried, but you have to yank that thing off the ground. There’s really no great form to it so you just have to push at that point.”
Munroe and Ladeairous joined Brown, Emily Bridgers, Kara Webb and Anna Tunnicliffe as the only women in the world to finish under the time cap while the rest of Heat 4 battled to get through as many box jump overs before time expired.
Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault edged out Michele Letendre by 1 rep to take third overall, while Day 1 leader Dani Horan finished tied for sixth place with Heat 2 winner Chelsey Hughes (CAP+49).
Event 3 Results
1. Kaleena Ladeairous (25:32.0)
2. Kelly Munroe (25:48.7)
3. Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault (CAP+21)
4. Michele Letendre (CAP+22)
5. Kelley Jackson (CAP +24)
Michele Letendre looked down and away, unwilling for even a second to be taken in by the roar of the crowd and the weights being hoisted and dropped all around her. The petite powerhouse took a deep breath, grabbed the bar and when 182 lb. was good and locked out, released it from her grasp and looked up as the XL Center brought the house down.
“You want everything to go to plan but not everything does, so when it does you have to celebrate,” said Letendre, who took first in Event 5’s max-snatch event to put her atop the overall leaderboard. “I’m just proud of myself, I think I’ve fought a lot this weekend, and I told myself after the chipper this morning things could only get better for me. And it is, it’s getting better.”
Letendre hit 167 lb. in her first snatch attempt, while Dani Horan—several yards away—-easily hit 166. Horan went up by 10 lb. in her final attempt to take third overall, with Heather Soukas (177 lb.) edging her by 1 lb. Horan said she wasn't aware of anything going on around her as she waited for her 20-second lift window.
“I was just looking at my judge and knowing when to go,” said Horan, who sits in second place after two days of competition. “The weight felt heavy in warm-up but light on the floor, so that’s good.”
The women set the standard in the prior Event 4—a 250-foot handstand walk—breaking the record three times as former collegiate gymnast Kari Pearce took the crown.
Tasia Percevecz set the early time to beat in 1:36.7, easily beating the 1:43 mark set by 2014 Games champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the South Regional last weekend. Two heats later, Rachel Goldenberg edged Percevecz with 1:35.2. Pearce, who was a gymnast at the University of Michigan, had to loosen up her form and allow her legs to hang over to give her the most momentum and post the day’s fastest time.
“This was the event I was most excited for because handstands are my strength,” Pearce said. “I wanted to finish top five, which I definitely did.”
Event 4 Results
1. Kari Pearce (1:32.1)
2. Rachel Goldenberg (1:35.2)
3. Tasia Percevecz (1:36.7)
4. Chloe Gauvin-David (1:39.3)
5. Maude Charron (1:56.6)
Event 5 Results
1. Michele Letendre (182 lb.)
2. Heather Soukas (177 lb.)
3T. Maude Charron (176 lb.)
3T. Dani Horan (176 lb.)
5. Jessica Cote-Beaudoin (175 lb.)
1. Michele Letendre (424 points)
2. Dani Horan (407 points)
3. Kari Pearce (340 points)
4. Kaleena Ladeairous (332 points)
5. Kelly Munroe (327 points)
6. Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault (325 points)
7. Kelley Jackson (325 points)
8. Heather Soukas (323 points)
9. Jennifer Smith (314 points)
10. Maude Charron (309 points)
While the top two from Day 1 remain the same, Letendre’s Event 5 win moved her ahead of Horan. Still, both women are in an enviable position heading into Day 3’s finale while the rest of the women’s field could go down to the wire in determining the final three spots. Pearce jumped up from seventh to fourth with Event 4’s win while Ladeairous saw Event 3’s win hampered by a pair of back-to-back disappointing finishes. Munroe, who has been one of the regional’s biggest surprises, rounds out the Games-eligible spots but just 17 points separated third to eighth place.
Mat Fraser finished his 100th box jump over and turned and raised a hand for the crowd at the XL Center before strolling across the finish line. He had plenty of time.
Fraser put on a show in Saturday’s Event 3, taking down the menacing chipper in a record 24:17—more than a minute-and-a-half faster than the previous mark held by Matt Reilly at the Pacific Regional. Fraser—known much more for his background as an Olympic weightlifter than for any endurance work—turned in the second-fastest mile time on the TrueForm treadmill (7:44) en route to obliterating the rest of the field.
“Our gym was able to get one—when the workout was announced we got one about a week later—so I’ve had a little bit of time to work out the kinks,” Fraser said of the TrueForm treadmill, which rewards good running form and is self-motored. “I didn’t do anything special on it. I just ran a steady mile and wanted to feel fresh when I came off of it.”
Chasing only Craig Kenney after the run, Fraser snatched the 135-lb. bar and took a relentless pace with the 50 overhead squats, taking an 8-rep lead on the ensuing GHDs.
Alex Vigneault, the only man ahead of Fraser at the end of Day 1, also flew through his 100 GHDs and was tied with Fraser as they got to the double-unders. But Fraser showed why he entered the regional as the heavy favorite, cruising through 150 doubles and building a 45-second lead in the process. He ripped through the following 50 sumo deadlift high pulls and stripped off his shirt at 19:54—plenty of time to hit the box.
“I could hear the announcers saying where everyone was,” Fraser said. “I was smiling (off the GHD) because I thought I was 20 reps ahead of Alex (Vigneault), and then when I was starting my 91st rep they said ‘Alex at 90’ and I was like, ‘Aw, shit. I have to keep going hard.’”
Vigneault managed to make it through as well holding off the rest of the field and becoming the third man to finish in 25:39. After coming so close to the Games a year ago, Vigneault—who lost on a tiebreaker—-said he’s fighting for every point possible.
“I tried to stop right before muscle failure,” he said, through an interpreter. “Don’t start too quickly. Just try and keep my pace around 80-85 percent.”
Simon Paquette rallied late and was able to swoop in for third (CAP+9) while Heat 3 winner Daniel Tyminski took fourth (CAP+14), putting both men in the top five overall.
“I was happy with myself for yesterday, I PR’d both those times,” Tyminski said. “But I knew today, this workout would be for me and it would help me get some points on the leaderboard.”
Event 3 Results
1. Mathew Fraser (24:17.6)
2. Alex Vigneault (25:39.2)
3. Simon Paquette (CAP +9)
4. Daniel Tyminski (CAP +14)
5. Austin Malleolo (CAP +29)
In a Day 2 full of new records, the East Regional closed things out with a bang as Trevor James snatched 279 lb. to win Event 5 in record-breaking fashion and keep his Games dreams alive.
“I placed top five in both events (the handstand walk and snatch) last year, but it was switched. I’m technically pretty good at both movements, so I knew the fatigue going into the snatch was going to help me and I decided to take advantage of it,” said James, who broke the mark set by the Atlantic Regional’s Garret Fisher (276 lb.) last week. “Why snatch 275 when you can do 279? 267 (as a first lift) felt good, so I was like, ‘Hey, the griddle’s hot, I might as well cook with it.’”
James, who started the day in 10th, now sits just outside of the top five heading into Sunday’s final two events. And his old lifting buddy, Mat Fraser—who easily locked out 276 lb.—heads into Day 3 as the overall men’s leader.
“I couldn't be happier with today’s performance,” said Fraser, who took third in the handstand race and second in the max snatch. “Handstand walk is out of the way. I wasn’t too worried about it, but there’s a lot of room for error. The snatch, I’m relieved it’s done.”
Fraser, who hit a 256-lb. first lift, said practicing the quick transition time between the handstand walk and the snatch—which had just a 1:40 break—was key to Saturday’s success.
“I was doing it (in training) with the minimum time requirement so having the extra 40 seconds helped a little bit,” he said. “And the crowd made a world of difference.”
The crowd at the XL Center was on its feet while the athletes in the top heat were on their hands. Zachary Moran, a former wrestler, raced down the first 125 feet to garner a sizable lead and despite tripping up at the end, still smashed Alec Smith’s record (1:32.1) from the Atlantic Regional.
“I knew that I had a chance (at the record),” Moran said. “I did this at my gym a couple weeks ago. But we don’t have a long enough gym, so I went out on the hot gravel. I beat the time on the hot gravel going uphill. So I knew I had a chance on a flat surface. I just knew I had to go out fast. If I could just go fast and maintain, I could get it.”
Austin Malleolo crossed the finish line in second (01:34.9) while Cody Mooney came in behind Fraser in fourth (01:47.0) to keep both men in the top five overall.
Event 4 Results
1. Zachary Moran (01:25.9)
2. Austin Malleolo (01:34.9)
3. Mathew Fraser (01:44.5)
4. Cody Mooney (01:47.0)
5. Tim Paulson (01:49.2)
Event 5 Results
1. Trevor James (279 lb.)
2. Mathew Fraser (276 lb.)
3. Pascal Baillargeon (275 lb.)
4. Craig Kenney (270 lb.)
5T. Nicholas DelGrande (265 lb.)
5T. Spencer Hendel (265 lb.)
5T. Paul Tremblay (265 lb.)
1. Mathew Fraser (450 points)
2. Alex Vigneault (410 points)
3. Spencer Hendel (369 points)
4. Austin Malleolo (362 points)
5. Cody Mooney (355 points)
6. Trevor James (352 points)
7. Craig Kenney (349 points)
8. Daniel Tyminski (341 points)
9. Tim Paulson (338 points)
10. Zachary Moran (330 points)
Fraser showed enviable consistency on Saturday, placing in the top three in each event to take first place going into Day 3. Vigneault, who placed outside of the top 10 for the first time in Event 4, dropped down to second but still seems to be in control of a Games spot. The rest of the men’s field is shaping up for an eventful finish as Hendel—who moved up a slot to third—has just a 7-point margin on Malleolo. Mooney dropped two spots and is clinging to the final spot to Carson with two events to go. Just 39 points separate Hendel from 10th-place Moran, making the final three Games spots a thrilling race.