March 9, 2012
The Future: Teens Take on the Open
By Stephanie Vincent


The future of CrossFit in the Mid Atlantic Region is filled with some talented athletes. 
Darby Nelson of Hammer Down CrossFit holds a national deadlifting record in her division at 335lbs and has a sub three-minute grace.
LaRynn Blair of CrossFit Apex can clean & jerk 130 pounds and snatch 95 pounds.
Alex Zimnock of CrossFit Apex recently won his division at the Apex Winter Combine and has a 215-pound clean and jerk. 
Kevin Evans of Nepa CrossFit does “Annie” in 5:23 and scores 28 full rounds on “Cindy.”  
Lorelei Wilkey of CrossFit Explode can do butterfly pull-ups and handstand push-ups. 
Kolby Stein of CrossFit Apex can string together 10 muscle-ups in a row, and does 30 in 6:40.
With CrossFit, Nelson says she “goes to sleep a stronger person, mentally and physically.” 



What do they all have in common, besides being elite? They all scored no less than 100 burpees on 12.1 (Evans scored 128), and they all are still in high school. 
CrossFitters all over the world fantasize about how life might have been different if they had started CrossFit when they were young. These teenagers are living proof that that idea is worth dreaming about. “[Kevin] is the kid we all wish we had been at 15,” says Nepa CrossFit coach Brennan Morton.
Great coaches yield great athletes. Each of the teens’ coaches speaks of their exceptional physical abilities and gains. Tanya Wagner – coach to Zimnock and Blair – touts that Zimnock gives the men of CrossFit Apex a “run for their money,” and Blair has had huge gains in her fitness for only CrossFitting since last March. 
Brian Quinlan, who coaches Wilkey, notes how quickly she picks up movements.
The teens themselves are proud of their physical accomplishments but it isn’t their fitness that they see as setting them apart from their non-CrossFitting peers.  
Zimnock and Blair have always excelled at athletics, but it is CrossFit that has taught them the importance of valuing others of all abilities. Zimnock says he is “less judgmental” and Blair says she can now “value the opinions, strength and weakness of others.” 
With CrossFit, Nelson says she “goes to sleep a stronger person, mentally and physically.” 
All of the coaches agree these teens are reaching elite levels of fitness in the blink of an eye, that you sometimes forget they’re still kids. “She carries herself with so much responsibility that at times I have to remind myself I’m talking with a teenager,” says Coach Todd Katz of Nelson. 
It is clear to all who meet these kids that they have gained a skill set much more valuable than double-unders and muscle-ups. 
Stein says he doesn’t just CrossFit to meet his goal of making it to Regionals. “WODs prepare me for the tough roads that lie ahead of me in life” he says. 
Zimnock agrees. “I have a much better sense of being able to accomplish anything I set my mind to because of CrossFit.”
These teens and the adults who coach them agree they are stronger, wiser, more mature, and are more capable and confident in their whole lives because they are CrossFitters. Signing up for the CrossFit Games Open is evidence of that confidence. They are willing to throw their hat in the ring with the tens of thousands all across the world, despite the fact that, as teenagers, they are a minority. 
“I am doing the Open for fun and to see where I place in the world and region,” Wilkey says. 
Just like the rest of us, they all want to see how they stack up and be a part of the community they love.