May 4, 2013
It's Mayhem!
By Lauryn Lax

“Our workouts are always intense, constantly varied, and encompass all general principles as far as strength, skill and endurance. Dan and Rich will do workouts with us …  their drive and efficiency are contagious.”

Photos by: Hilary Froning

Last fall, CrossFit Mayhem opened its doors for business. Less than a year later, their team is tied with CrossFit Maximus for first place in the Central East. Now, they’re preparing for the showdown at the 2013 Central East Regional.

“It’s funny to me that a little town like Cookeville, Tenn., has so many people in the top of the Leaderboard from our box,” team member Sarah Rogers says. “It’s awesome. It just goes to show what good athletes and coaches we have here.”

CrossFit Mayhem is owned by two-time CrossFit Games champion, Rich Froning and is home to his training partner, Dan Bailey. Although Froning and Bailey contributed great scores to the affiliate during the Open, it wasn’t a two-man show. Mayhem has eight dedicated competitors who helped earn first place.

As Froning and Bailey prepare for the Individual competition, eight athletes are training alongside them in hopes of giving it their all at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus this June.

During the Open, eight athletes proved themselves to be top performers: Jackie Cox, Jen Hoffman, Lauren Neal and alternate Sarah Rogers will represent the women. For the men, Froning’s cousin, Darren Hunsucker, Thomas Cox, Ben Rogers and alternate Jake Lockert will be putting their game faces on.

The relatively young affiliate isn’t full of rookies. With the exception of Derek Robinson (who is competing as an individual this year), Hunsucker, Thomas and Jackie Cox, Hoffman and Neal made it through last year’s Regional weekend to place fifth overall with CrossFit Faith.

Missing a podium spot by only two places was tough and the athletes went straight to work following the competition with 2013 in mind.

“We want to go to the Games this year as athletes, not as spectators,” Neal says.

Since the Open ended, CrossFit Mayhem has been working on individual weaknesses to ensure a group victory.

“I believe our main difference from last year is that our females have made great improvements in both strength and skill,” Hoffman says.


The women on the team have improved their Olympic lifts tremendously by focusing on technique. They may add weight to the bar weekly, but not at the expense of immaculate form, doing their best to be patient, not sloppy.

Now, there isn’t one woman who snatches fewer than 130 lb., and when it comes to the clean and jerk, they all lift 175 lb. or more.

A few of the women admit that bodyweight movements are a weakness they’ve been working on perfecting.

“Last year at Regionals, my lack of ability to do muscle-ups cost us a spot at the Games, so I have been training those hard and I can say that will not be the factor holding us back this year,” Hoffman says. “Now, all of us can do muscle-ups.”

Neal, on the other hand, says while she may not be the strongest athlete on the team, she can pick up some of the slack with her efficiency in bodyweight movements. As a former soccer player, Neal moves quickly and pull-ups aren’t an issue — she has a 2:38 Fran.

“I try to just be consistent in most things, but things like handstand push-ups and pull-ups are some of my strengths,” Neal says.

In an effort to improve their gymnastic skills, the women devote time each week to perfecting chest-to-bar pull-ups, toes-to-bars, handstand push-ups, box jumps and muscle-ups.

“A huge highlight for me was 13.3,” Jackie Cox says. “I just completed my first muscle-up in February and my goal was to beat my previous score of 240 by one point. When I got to the muscle-ups, I took a full minute break before I even attempted. I got one, then two and on the last try, I decided to try to string two together for the first time and did it. So I was super stoked to end up with a score of 244.”


The men of Mayhem have been working just as hard to extend their season past Regionals.

Thomas Cox clean and jerks 305 lb., has a 1:50 Grace and a 255-lb. snatch. Lockert is not far behind him with a 275-lb. clean and jerk and a 225-lb. snatch. Ben Rogers has a 275-lb. clean and jerk, a 245-lb. snatch and says gymnastic movements have become a strength for him.

Most of the men agree that strength will be tested at Regionals, so they spend much of their time training with Froning — shoulder presses on Monday, front squats on Tuesday, deadlifts on Wednesday, bench press on Thursday and back squats on Friday. The rep scheme varies depending on the week; sometimes it's triples or sets of five and sometimes it's as high as 10 reps, as heavy as possible.

Tuesday through Thursday, the team incorporates Olympic lifts in varied formats, typically weaving in monostructural work like rowing, sprints and the Airdyne three or so days a week. Classic met-cons are scheduled for everyday but Sunday, when the team rests.

“I have learned so much from training with Rich,” Ben Rogers says. “He has taught me a lot about how to attack a workout smarter than I used to, using good form through workouts and how to train smart, as well.”

Strong Minds, Strong Bodies

Froning has taught the team to be mentally tough.

“One thing we all do when we are doing a workout that is an AMRAP is we finish whatever round we are on when the clock runs out,” Jackie Cox says.

While the team does not have an official coach since most of CrossFit Mayhem’s coaches are a part of the team, they coach each other. They also look to Froning who programs their weekly workouts, ensuring the team is prepared for the unknowable.

“Our programming is not easy,” Hoffman says. “Our workouts are always intense, constantly varied, and encompass all general principles as far as strength, skill and endurance. Dan and Rich will do workouts with us when in town and not traveling. It is always nice to have them …  their drive and efficiency are contagious.”

Every time the team trains, they practice two rituals.

“We pray together before we lift and listen to the Jesus Culture and Elevation Worship on Pandora,” Thomas Cox says.

The team agrees that keeping their focus on their faith is their “secret weapon.”

“We always pray before a workout because we know who our strength and abilities come from,” Sarah Rogers says.

Be it their faith, their champ or their spirit, CrossFit Mayhem hopes to make this year’s Regional event something special to remember by making it nothing more than another step in the journey.

“You can always go harder and farther than you think,” Thomas Cox says.