July 20, 2013
Making History: Ute CrossFit
By Jane Drexler and Lynn Kilpatrick

When the South West Regional concluded in June, Ute CrossFit had earned a first-ever distinction: the only affiliate to qualify two teams, Hack’s Pack UTE and the Ute All-Stars.

When the South West Regional concluded in June, Ute CrossFit had earned a first-ever distinction: the only affiliate to qualify two teams, Hack’s Pack UTE and the Ute All-Stars.  

While the two teams benefit from a close training relationship, and the same coach, Tommy Hackenbruck, they faced different challenges coming out of Regionals. Hack’s Pack has experience and cohesiveness; the All-Stars, while individually talented athletes, have only been training and working as a team since the Open.

“(Hack’s Pack) is the epitome of a team as far as the confidence in each other and the trust in each other, and the belief in each other,” Hackenbruck says. “(The team members) are all at a very high level, so if you want to call us an all-star team, that’s fine. But this is more of a team, as much as any team I’ve ever been on — high school football, college football … this tops that.”


The All-Stars, on the other hand, got one main piece of advice from Hackenbruck after Regionals: “Train together more as a team.”

“I feel like (the All-Stars) time from Regionals to now has been much more crucial than ours,” Hackenbruck explains. “Ours is just a continuation of what we’ve been doing for the last year-and-a-half. For them, this is really the make or break … You know, they had eight weeks to go all out in the gym, and prove to each other that ‘you-can-rely-on-me’ type of thing. Every single person on that team had to earn the trust of everyone else on the team.”

Even though the two teams have different training needs, they still train together as time and schedules allow. All-Stars Adam Picarri and Jayson Davis join Hack’s Pack’s Mary Lampas for early morning workouts before her long shifts at the hospital pharmacy.  

Olympic lifting coach Dave Chiu trains All-Stars Rob Schaffer and Alli Cerruti alongside Hackenbruck and Taylor Richards-Lindsay on Wednesday afternoons. And Saturdays have become “WTF” days, where the two teams practice “weird stuff,” like carrying odd objects, crawling, handstand walking, yokes, tire flips, sled pulling and whatever else Hackenbruck comes up with.

“(Both teams) do a lot of the same stuff, tweaking it big time to fit (athletes’ schedules),” he says. “But the (most fun) is when we’re all together, for sure. And in a perfect world, we’d do that quite often, but it just makes us appreciate it more.”

Q&A with the Ute CrossFit team members

What event would you be happiest to see at the Games?

Erin Bennion: I hope to see a team triathlon

Mary Lampas: Any workout with all six people. We’d love to see something long this year, because we’ve never gotten to show off the fact that we train some hour-long sessions of swimming, and rowing and biking.

Taylor Richards-Lindsay: I would like them to do the whole six-person thing again, where everyone on the team has to compete every time.

Tommy Hackenbruck: Logs. A team log workout. Thrusters with the log, carrying it, running with it. Flipping it, whatever.

Adrian Conway: Honestly, I’d love to get another shot at Big Bob. I know that was an event we didn’t do very well at last year… and we need to redeem ourselves.

Michael Cazayoux: I’d like to see heavy weights, a lot of work capacity stuff.

Keslie Roberts: A handstand walk obstacle course

Alli Cerruti: Some sort of heavy push or carry

Mandi Janowitz: I would love to see a swim. And some kind of handstand competition. 

Adam Piccari: We can Airdyne the shit out of things.

Rob Shaffer: A lift ladder, and some kind of rope climb

Get to know the team members

While the two teams have a lot in common, like their love of heavy lifting and endurance events, each individual athlete brings their own talents and personality to the team. We asked the teams to describe each other as competitors, and explain what each person contributes to the team.

Ute All-Stars

Shaffer: Goofy. But when it comes to crunch time … he always pulls through, and I love him so much for that. (Alli Cerruti)

Jayson Davis: He pushes me to be my best. But it’s a weird push with him, because it’s not a verbal thing. So you don’t have to listen to him trash talk or anything. He’s just gonna outwork you. So, you keep working and working and working. (Adam Piccari)

Janowitz: She really psyches the team up. Just to see her perform. I swear, she has no doubt. She thinks like Tommy does: There is no “I can’t do it” in her. And she’s all about success. (Rob Shaffer)

Piccari: I kind of think of him as our silent assassin.  He’s quiet — he’s a quiet competitor — but at the end, he always shines, because he always finishes at the top.  He just puts his head down and gets his work done. (Alli Cerruti)

Roberts: She’s tenacious. And she can squat like a motherfucker, and I love her for that.  She has a beautiful squat. I’m envious of her squat. (Alli Cerruti)

Cerruti: She’s like our mama of the team. She keeps us in check. And she’s a veteran, you know, she’s been to the Games.  She has a calm sense.  She’s done this before.  This isn’t her first rodeo. (Mandi Janowitz)

Hack’s Pack UTE

Richards-Lindsay: Taylor is like our little sister. Athletically, I would say that Taylor is our best overall. I think she is the one with the most physical talent. And I think that she’s hilarious. She comes in and she’ll see a workout on the board, and the first thing that she’s gotta do is get feedback. She needs instruction. If you tell her to do these many sets and do it this fast, and rest this long between, she’s gonna get it done — probably faster than anybody else. But she just needs that guidance. (Adrian Conway)

Bennion: Erin is just so funny. She’s so pure. So it’s funny to have her on a team of really over-the-top loud, gross people. Because she loves every second of it. She just sits quietly, but then she just cracks up. She totally respects the fact that she doesn’t have to be like us, but she likes being around us. (Taylor Richards-Lindsey)

Conway: One of the most hard-working people I know. And he does it all with his spirituality first in his life, and he’s a very caring individual. (Michael Cazayoux)

Lampas: You ask Mary to do something, and you know she’s just going to do whatever she wants anyway. And sometimes that means following the program, sometimes that means she does extra, sometimes that means she just disregards it. But it’s OK, ‘cause she always shows up. In competitions, she makes a bigger jump from training to competition than anybody, probably. She’s just like a total gamer. And also she has a very demanding job — and you know, a career-type of job, she doesn’t just work out — so, I think we all understand. (Tommy Hackenbruck)

Cazayoux: I think of Mike as the heart of the team because he only has one speed, and that’s all out. And it’s really always for everyone else. He’s the humor, and he’s the one that keeps everyone grounded. There’ll be moments where things get serious, and he just chimes in with words mostly I can’t repeat. (Adrian Conway)

Hackenbruck: Tommy has been an amazing coach and support from the very first day I met him. He has given me every tool and opportunity to succeed. When you are a part of Tommy’s team, he sacrifices everything for your success and happiness. (Erin Bennion)