May 10, 2014
Latin America Update: Day 2
By Brittney Saline

Wanda Brenton and Emmanuel Maldonado lead after two days of competition.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Though legless rope climbs have appeared in WODs and videos dating as far back as 2009, new CrossFit athletes may not have considered them until the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Event, Legless.

The event rewarded athletes who took note last July and took to the rope over the year. Those who dismissed Legless as a stand-alone event or parlor trick only performed on the big stage at the Games, paid the price for their disregard.

But first, athletes had to prove that CrossFit is about more than kipping.

In the descending triplet of handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees, the handstand push-ups had to be performed strict.  


Event 4

For the men of Latin America, Event 4 wasn’t about who was the fastest on each movement, but rather who could hold the most consistent overall pace.

That man was Orlando Trejo.

Among all four heats, Trejo was the only man who looked calm on the floor. Not quite at peace – and who could blame him? – but never showing significant signs of duress.

After “3, 2, 1 …go!” the twelve men of heat four rolled under the wall in unison.

Leonidas Jenkins was the first to make an impression, as the first man off the wall in the set of 21 handstand push-ups. But in his haste to finish the 195-lb. front squats, he put his weight belt on the wrong notch. Dropping the bar to re-adjust, he dropped out of contention.

From there, it was a game of give and take between Orlando Trejo and Chilean competitor Rodrigo Valenzuela of Manada 396 CrossFit.

After doing the set of 15 strict handstand push-ups unbroken, Valenzuela took the lead going into the set of 15 front squats. He also took his time, taking a swig from his water bottle -- he knew there was a lot of work left to do.

Determination on his face and rhythm in his squats, Valenzuela finished seven reps before Trejo picked up his bar.

The more reps Valenzuela logged, the faster he worked. But when he paused to adjust his belt in the round of six front squats, Trejo made his move. Trejo seemed to rebound off his head as he repped out his six handstand push-ups, meeting Valenzuela on the burpees.

In the final round, Trejo went to the redline, passing Valenzuela almost imperceptibly to take the win in 10:58, just one second before Valenzuela.

Surprisingly, the barbell gave Trejo, a former weightlifter, the most trouble in the event.

“The squats where the most difficult thing of all,” Trejo said. “The final (round) was terrible so I did what I had to do. I saw that I (had) a little bit more breath, so I pushed myself to the end.”

Event 4 Results
1. Orlando Trejo (10:58)
2. Rodrigo Valenzuela (10:59)
3. Joel Bran (12:51)

Event 5

In the third heat of Event 5, Claudio Pobleto of Manada 396 CrossFit brought the fans packing the stadium to their feet.

No one would sit down again.

Everyone in the stands knew what it felt like to hang from a rope, unable to go further, unwilling to let go. So when Pobleto’s arms failed him with two ascents left and three minutes remaining, the fans refused to let him quit.

Six competitors surrounded Pobleto, screaming in his ear. He took three steps back, leapt and swung.

He hung, and he fell. Again, he leaped. Again, he failed.

Gazing upward, he shook out his arms for a final attempt, less than a minute on the clock. The rope spun wildly with his momentum, and the collective roar in the room drowned out the buzzer that ended his fight.

“The worst that can happen in the WOD, like in life, to give up and stop trying,” Pobleto said, after the event. “If you give up you lose. When you feel defeated is the moment to stop (for) one second and re-think what you are doing and keep going … it is the only way to know where you can (go).”

The same furious fervor the crowd showed Pobleto, they gave to Trejo. Shouts of “Trejo, Trejo!” cut through the music as he fought for his final ascent at 5:30, nearly two minutes after the heat’s winners had finished.

But it wasn’t just those who fought against failure who earned the crowd’s approval.

In the final heat, Mark Desin went out in a blaze of glory.

He dominated from the first rep, sprinting the 200 feet between each legless rope climb. When he climbed, he never kipped, but instead pumped the air with his legs as his arms did all the work. By 1:20, he was on his sixth round.

On the eighth round, Desin showed his first sign of struggle -- his sprint slowed to a run. Three minutes in, Francisco Javier made Desin work for his win, both competitors dropping from their final ascents simultaneously. But Desin was five paces faster, taking the win in an astonishing time of 3:23. Javier stepped on the mat just one second later.

Event 5 Results
1. Mark Desin (3:23)
2. Francisco Javier (3:24)
3. Lucas Rosa (3:25)

The Leaderboard has a new look at the end of Day 2.

Emmanuel Maldonado, two-year CrossFit athlete and 2013 Regional competitor, sits in first place with 37 points. Francisco Javier follows with 47 points, while Conor Murphy holds third with 53 points.

Orlando Trejo, defending Regional winner, sits in seventh. To make a third trip to Carson, California, he’ll have to make up a 28-point gap in the final two events -- both of which are likely to favor athletes who are light on their feet and quick on the bar.

Overall Standings
1. Emmanuel Maldonado (37)
2. Francisco Javier (42)
3. Conor Murphy (53)
4. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa (59)
5. Rodrigo Valenzuela (59)
6. Alan Garcia (60)
7. Orlando Trejo (65)
8. Mark Desin (69)
9. Tarcio Santos Ferreira (70)
10. Alvaro Lopez (77)


Event 4

While Antonelli Nicole took the glory in the fourth Regional Event, Vanessa Benavides put in a performance that was all heart. The 19-year-old from Toxic CrossFit in Mexico still had 8 reps on the floor when the clock ran out, but the stands screamed louder for her than for Faba Macias, the first woman to complete the descending ladder of strict handstand push-ups, 125-lb. front squats, and bar-facing burpees within the 21-minute time cap. 
Not only is this Benavides’ first regional appearance, it’s also her first year of CrossFit. 
Five minutes into the event, Benavides was on her set of 15 front squats while most of her competitors were still on the wall for their first set of 21 strict handstand push-ups. 
With each 125-lb. front squat, the barbell seemed to be pressing down on her just as hard as she pushed up against it. But with grit and a grimace, she always resurfaced, to deafening roars from the crowd. 
“I felt really good in this workout despite of all the arm work,” Benavidas said. “I have done the (event) before, three times, so I felt really great.”
She wasn’t the only one to celebrate the event despite failing to finish. 
Though Anita Pravatti took 17th in the event, she considered her finish to be a personal victory. In 2012, she earned a DNF on the first event, Diane, after failing on the wall in the handstand push-ups. 
“I'm very happy because last week I was not able to do ten reps each set,” Pravatti said. “I've been training a lot for this regional.” 
The event leaders were determined from the first set of the event. 
In the final heat, Antonelli Nicole was the first off the wall in the set of 21 handstand push-ups. Wanda Brenton followed, just a few reps behind. 
The pair would remain within 10 reps of each other for the entire event. Although their paces on the handstand push-ups were similar -- slow and steady -- Nicole was stronger in the front squat, never breaking them into more than two sets. 
Still, the fatigue was evident in the set of sixes, as Nicole cast aside her belt for the burpees and opted to step down. 
But the end was in sight then.
After a short pause, bent over her bar, Nicole sprinted for the wall, her bright yellow shorts reading “Brasil” on the back. She kicked up onto the wall, resting on her head for a split second before she erupted into a final, unbroken round. 
As she leapt onto the mat, she answered the crowd’s roars with a kick and a fist pump midair, winning the event in 14:10.
Brenton was second to reach the mat at 15:32, followed by Brenda Castro at 17:25. 
Event 4 Results
1. Antonelli Nicole (4:10)
2. Wanda Brenton (15:32)
3. Brenda Castro (17:25)
Event 5
There’s no fighting through muscle failure on legless rope climbs. Once their arms fatigued, even the most determined competitors had to wait and recover before they could reach the 14-foot target.
In the first heat most women were able to scale the rope a few times, but by the time the clock read six minutes, most competitors sat in a squat, staring up at the rope. 
Each time an athlete ascended partway up the 14-foot rope, only to unwillingly clench the rope with her thighs or drop to the floor, the crowd collectively moaned.
Through the round of five, Itzel Cadena led the second heat. But on her jog back to the rope, she clutched her left arm, in obvious pain. 
Face contorted in equal parts pain and determination, she jumped a third of the rope’s length, but couldn’t hold on, and Marina Ramos broke away. When Ramos finished her ninth sprint, the crowd erupted, hoping to see their first female finisher. But she went into her final rep with too little rest, and the clock ran out as she fell from halfway. 
The crowd got what they wanted in the final heat. 
“Ice, Ice, Baby” was the anthem that accompanied the countdown of the women’s final heat. 
For the first five rounds, Anita Pravatti held the lead, legs spread wide to avoid an accidental no-rep and feet flicking the air with each pull. 
But she fell on her sixth rep, allowing Brenton and Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza to break away. The pair looked liked they’d practiced synchronized rope-climbing, going nearly rep-for-rep until the ninth round. 
Eyes widened in distress, Loaiza fell after climbing halfway up. It would take her nearly three minutes to recover, and as she shook her arms out, Brenton sprinted to the mat for the finish at 7:44. 
Brenton’s win was the result of only two practice sessions at home.
“I’ve only done legless climbs a couple of times, and when the workout was announced, I practiced twice,” Brenton said. “I just tried to keep my own pace and not pay attention to anything around me. 
Brenton was the only woman to finish the work within the 11-minute time cap. Competitors who didn’t finish within 11 minutes were given a score of 11 minute plus one second penalty for each rope climb and 200-foot sprint left uncompleted.
Event 5 Results 
1. Wanda Brenton (7:44)
2. Yazmin Arroya Loaiza (11:03)
3. Marina Ramos Jorge (11:03)
After two days of regional competition, Wanda Brenton has proven that she can hold her own as an individual competitor. She sits in first place overall with just 14 points, followed by Yazmin Arroya Loaiza (15) and Antonelli Nicole (23). 
With just one point separating first and second places, and eight points between second and third, it will up to tomorrow’s chipper and the final couplet of pull-ups and overhead squats to decide who will stand atop the podium.
And with two former gymnasts in the spots below Brenton, she’ll have to prove that her skills on the pull-up rig are as good as her motor. 
Overall Standings
1. Wanda Brenton (14)
2. Yazmin Arroya Loaiza (15)
3. Antonelli Nicole (23)
4. Christine Knieff (32)
5. Anita Pravatti (38)
6. Brenda Castro (41)
7. Nega Ibarra (42)
8. Marcela Fernanda Rozo (44)
9. Marylin Rojas (49)
10. Vanessa Benavides (54)