May 12, 2014
Latin America Update: Day 3
By Brittney Saline
Puerto Rican Emmanuel Maldonado and Wanda Brenton, from Grand Cayman, will represent Latin America at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Puerto Rican Emmanuel Maldonado and Wanda Brenton, from Grand Cayman, will represent Latin America at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Puerto Rican Emmanuel Maldonado and Wanda Brenton, from Grand Cayman, will represent Latin America at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games

An epoch has ended in Latin America, as two-time CrossFit Games athlete, Orlando Trejo, will not return to Carson, California this year.

Emmanuel Maldonado, of CrossFit SJU in Puerto Rico, will take his place as the sole representative of the region at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

“I've been training a lot for this regional in order to be strong,” said the 24-year-old victor. “I left home, my box, my community (and) Puerto Rico, and I came here to give my best.”

After beginning CrossFit in 2012, Maldonado took seventh place in his first regional appearance in 2013, finishing two events in the top 10.

This weekend, however, he only fell outside the top 10 once. Though he did not win any events, his victory proved consistency and well roundedness trumps all.

“I’m ready to represent Latin America,” Maldonado said.

Trejo’s fate was all but sealed at the end of Day 2.

After a 42nd-place finish in the Event 5—10 rounds of legless rope climbs and sprints—he began the final day of competition in seventh place overall with a 28-point barrier between him and the podium.

“You can't know how your body is going to react,” Trejo said after all was said and done. “You don't know for sure when you are going to feel great or not. For me, this was the year that I failed. But I will keep moving forward, training and training. And I'm really glad because everyone has improved a lot and that's the most important thing.”

On the women’s side, Wanda Brenton can now call herself an individual CrossFit Games competitor. This will be her first year going to the Games without the aid of her team, CrossFit 7 Mile.

The overall winner with 23 points, Brenton took home three event wins and two second-place finishes over the seven regional events.

“I've gone on a team to the Games already, but I really, really wanted to try this as an individual,” Brenton said, “so I'm very excited. I'm gonna have a lot of work to do!”

“I started in 2010, and at that time there were four or five girls competing … so to see that (growth), it’s incredible,” Brenton added. “This was a great experience.”


Event 6

It wouldn’t be a CrossFit event without a gnarly chipper. Only this particular variety doesn’t spit you out at the end—it eats you back up.

After packing away 50 reps each of a row for calories, box jump overs, deadlifts, wall-ball shots and ring dips, athletes had to climb back up.

No men finished within the 21-minute time cap. In fact, only three men across the four regions competing this weekend finished.

The first few legs were easy. It wasn’t until athletes reached the rings that they felt the affects of the 200 reps they’d just done.

In the dips, the kip was key. With forearms freshly fried from the wall-ball shots, some athletes had only a few dips in them before they had to let go and shake out.

The discovery was a nasty surprise for Francisco Javier in the fourth heat. From Javier’s first box jump over, the crowd thought he had bagged the event. While his competitors jumped up and stepped down with a pause between each rep, he blazed through the jumps in sets of three, landing atop the box in a squat and rebounding from the ground.

Though he was the first to the wall-ball shots at 6:41, Batuque Iribarren met him there less than 10 seconds later, both finishing the shots 10 minutes into the 21-minute event.

And then Javier went bankrupt on the rings.

While Iribarren knocked out sets of four to six reps with a rapid, explosive kip, Javier struggled to do singles. To reach extension, he had to swing his legs wildly, desperate to string two reps together.

With Javier out of the way, Mark Desin made a break for it, catching Irribarren at the barbell for the second go at the deadlifts. While Irribarren finished each set of 10 reps first, he rested just long enough for Desin to catch up.

As though in unspoken agreement to pace the rest of the event, neither would race until the final minute.

“I really tried to keep my pace,” Desin said after the event.

With less than two minutes remaining, the pair advanced to the box, their step-downs betrayed their fatigue.

Though Desin pulled ahead by three reps in the final 60 seconds, Iribarren made no move to speed up. Just when the crowd was beginning to wonder if Iribarren cared who won, in the last three seconds he emptied the tank, doing two reps for Desin’s one and tying him for the event win in 22:11.

“That was a brutal workout,” Desin said. “I feel really good about how I performed. I felt a lot more fatigued than when I practiced it. I’m very excited to see how top athletes from other regions do this, and see if anybody can get through that.”

Event 6 Results
1T. Mark Desin (22:11)
1T. Batuque Iribarren (22:11)
3. Augusto Castro (22:21)

Event 7

The final event of the 2014 Latin America Regional was about who could hold on the longest. Just one drop from the pull-up rig or one drop of the bar could cost athletes several seconds—and places.

In the third heat, Alfredo Escobar of Manada 396 CrossFit hoped his shorts would bring him luck, flaunting blue leopard-print briefs and orange knee sleeves—and nothing else—as he jogged to his lane.

“It was a gift from my girlfriend,” Escobar said. “And it's a way to people get to know me, it’s like a signature. I’m getting better as an athlete, but maybe this will help me.”  

The event’s winners were both in the final heat. Desin and Vera Ochoa tied for first place with a time of 2:33.

Moments before “3, 2, 1 … go!” the announcer led the stands in a human wave.  

Vera Ochoa was the first off the pull-up rig with Conor Murphy trailing a few paces behind.

After performing a double on his first attempt at the overhead squats, Vera Ochoa went to his toes on the third the bar flew forward.

The crowd turned its attention to Murphy two lanes over. On his second set, he sat in the bottom of his squat, leaning sideways but unwilling to let go. As Murphy toppled, Vera Ochoa stood up for the last time. Step-for-step with Desin, Vera Ochoa stopped the clock at 2:33. The tie made for Vera Ochoa’s second first-place finish and Desin’s fourth.

After the clock went dark, the last heat of men gathered in a 12-man group hug, saluting the crowd and signing off.

Event 7 Results
1T. Mark Desin (2:33)
1T. Giancarlo Vera Ochoa (2:33)
3. Alvaro Lopez (2:36)

Final Standings
1. Emmanuel Maldonado (56)—Games Qualifier
2. Conor Murphy (65)
3. Mark Desin (71)


Event 7

Of the 27 women competing as individuals at the Latin America Regional, none could complete the 450 reps of Event 6.

Wanda Brenton came the closest. Brenton was the only woman in all three heats to reach the deadlifts in the chipper’s second half, reaching her bar with 58 seconds remaining before the buzzer signaled the 21-minute time cap.

For most women, the chipper was one-sided, ending on the rings. In the second heat, Itzel Cadena was the first female to return to the wall-ball shots after the dips, despite nursing a shoulder injury.

“I feel a little bit sore, but happy after the workout,” Cadena said. “This particular workout for me was really hard because my shoulder was feeling a bit weak. My strategy was to go slow, but don’t stop and try to keep the pace.”

In that same heat, all 12 athletes stood with their hands on their hips at the 16-minute mark, unable to do more than one or two dips without at least 10 seconds of rest.

But where the fastest rowers, jumpers and deadlifters faded, Brenton brightened.

Anita Pravatti was first to the rings in the final heat at 10:10. But in her haste to string together sets of three, she earned four no-reps in the first 10 seconds on the dips.

Brenton, too, went for sets of three, but all were good reps. Unlike Pravatti, who began the dip with legs fully extended, Brenton jumped with her knees already tucked, saving energy for one explosive drive.

At 16:05, it was déjà vu as Brenton went back through the chipper. Pravatti joined her a minute-and-a-half later, but Brenton had already earned the lead she needed.

Just after the 20-minute mark, she stood alone in the center of the arena floor, facing her barbell. For the last 58 seconds, she seemed to feel no pain as she repped out her final few deadlifts to take her third event win of the weekend.

Event 6 Results
1. Wanda Brenton (23:05)
2. Anita Pravatti (23:32)
3. Itzel Cadena (23:46)

Event 7

The female overall winner was decided before the final event began. It would be nearly impossible to beat Wanda Brenton’s eight-point lead.

But that didn’t stop the competitors from working hard in Event 7, though the 135-lb. barbell was more than what 22 out of 27 women could hang snatch in the regional’s first event.

In the first heat, unaffiliated athlete Linda Gonzalez was the only woman to complete a rep in the overhead squats. She went for a second lift in the final minute, but held the barbell suspended overhead for a full 10 seconds, burning her shoulders out before she could squat.

For Antonelli Nicole, the final event was the most poignant. In her second event win of the weekend, she finished the 64 pull-ups and eight overhead squats in just 4:30—faster than more than half of the men.

“I came really confident this year, a lot better than (in) 2013,” Nicole said. “But in the first day I thought that I would do better … my strategy was to break up the pull-ups in sets of 20.”

Halfway through the six-minute event, Nicole had already banked five overhead squats. In her sixth, she power cleaned the bar, catching it with feet spread wide.

After popping the bar to her back, she set her stance, squatted and dropped.

She circled her bar, eyeing the clock. With two minutes remaining, she finished the last two reps of the regional, hitting the mat with a minute-and-a-half to spare.

One sprint to the finish wasn’t enough. She kept running and circled back to stomp the mat once more, kicking the air before falling to her knees on her mat, weeping with joy.

Event 7 Results
1. Antonelli Nicole (4:30)
2. Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza (4:39)
3. Viana Mollinedo (5:55)

Final Standings
1. Wanda Brenton (23)—Games Qualifier
2. Yazmin Arroyo Loaiza (25)
3. Antonelli Nicole (28)

View the Latin America Regional in Photos