July 19, 2013
Masters of the North East
By Keka Schermerhorn

On Tuesday, 8 men and 13 women will represent the North East in the Masters Competition at the CrossFit Games.

Games-bound North East Masters athletes have been hard at work since the Open, getting ready to represent their region at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

This year, eight men and 13 women from the North East have qualified for the CrossFit Games.

Masters Men 40-44 Division

The addition of a Masters 40-44 Division allowed four men from the North East to qualify for the Games.

John Lynch finished the Open in third place overall in his division. With this being his first trip to the Games, the ER physician and former bodybuilder has been cramming in a lot of volume into his daily training sessions.

“I compare myself to a pick-up truck,” Lynch says. “Not good acceleration, but it will eventually get up to speed. Strong enough to get the work done over bumps in the road and keep working without stopping.”

Brad Posnanski will be making his fourth trip to the Games this July. He competed as an individual in 2008, tied with James Hobart for first place in the North East in 2009, was a member of the CrossFit Invictus Team in 2011 and will be competing in the newly created Masters Division this year.

The former collegiate pole-vaulter and ironman competitor has been following CJ Martin’s programming since 2008.

“I remember getting a text message in what seemed like the middle of the night when they announced they were adding a 40 to 44-year-old Division,” Posnanski says. “It was from CJ Martin saying, ‘Hey Pos, if you are ready, I am ready to do this,’ and we started gearing up for the Open the next day.”

Paul Teehan competed as an individual at the 2012 North East Regional, and will be taking his first trip to the Games as a Masters competitor this year. Teehan underwent a slap-tear shoulder repair surgery last August and is still uncomfortable with heavy overhead movements.

“My expectations for the Games is to just have fun and do the best I can,” Teehan says. “And meet some of the people that I've followed over the last couple years.”

Former collegiate football player Dan Loewenberg finished the Open in 20th overall in his division, which was good enough to earn him his first invitation to the Games.

“My goal for the Games is to have fun and enjoy the experience,” Loewenberg says. “If I can do that, all else will fall into place.”

Masters Women 45-49 Division

Representing the Masters Women 45-49 Division are four returning veterans, including reigning division champion Lisa Mikkelsen. Both Mikkelsen and Amy Mandelbaum performed well enough to earn invitations to the North East Regional to compete as individuals. They both declined in order to concentrate on training for the Games.

Mikkelsen competed in the Games as a member of the CrossFit New England team in 2010 and 2011, helping the team win the Affiliate Cup. She won her Masters Division at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, and finished the Open in first place in her division worldwide this year.

“Going to the Games is an honor and fun,” Mikkelsen says. “Thinking about Open was like seeing a freight train coming towards me, knowing I couldn't do anything to stop it. The weights and workload have gotten so much heavier each year since my first Games experience as an Affiliate Cup team member in 2010. I'll be two weeks shy of 48 next week, and will find out how I do with the workouts Castro throws our way.”

Amy Mandelbaum earned her second invitation to the Games by finishing the Open in second place worldwide in her division. Mandelbaum has been following a program designed for her by James FitzGerald and training with the podium in mind.

“I have been competing in CrossFit for almost four years, have been to the North East Regional as an individual my first year and a team athlete my second and third year,” Mandelbaum says. “This year, I'm going to have fun and win! I'm looking forward to seeing the (women) in my bracket, working hard and showing CrossFit how Masters get things done!”

Barbara Sessa finished the Open in seventh place worldwide, and finished the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games in 10th place in her division. The P.E. teacher and amateur triathlete will be taking the Masters stage and competing for the third time in as many years.

Cindy Briggs finished the Open in 11th place. The former U.S. Rowing National Team member is competing in the division for the third consecutive year. She finished the 2012 Games in third place and has changed up her training this year.

“I train alone quite a bit due to work travel, but get in some workouts with the crew at CrossFit Brickyard, and I do a team (workout) once a week,” Briggs says. “The coach I work with, Bryan Zobre, has been making sure I keep something I am good at in workouts that also include more challenging skills. It helped to keep my joy and confidence up. I can't wait to see what is in store for us in Carson.”

Masters Men 50-54 Division

Two Games veterans from CrossFit New England are representing the Masters Men 50-54 Division.

Rocket scientist Bubba Hagood will compete on the Masters stage after finishing the Open in ninth place.

This will be Brian Curley’s fourth trip to the Games. He won his Masters division in 2010 and finished ninth in 2012. In preparation for this year, Curley has been working closely with his coach, Ben Bergeron.

“I am fortunate to have Ben doing my programming,” Curley says. “I have been using a combination of Ben’s group WOD programming and competitor programming, along with specific programming for strength and skill work. Ben and the other coaches at CFNE are incredible — the best in the business. I have also been working with Kevin Montoya of CFNE on some specific skill work. I simply want to perform to the best of my abilities, period.”

Masters Women 50-54 Division

This will be the fourth trip to the Games for Elaine Polito. The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games third-place finisher in the 50-54 Division was a member of the 2009 CFNE team.

“I’m a road construction worker,” Polito says. “Slugging it out on the highway in the heat … Not sure if CrossFit is helping me stay fit so I can keep up with the road crew, or if work is keeping me fit for CrossFit! My main focus ahead of the Games is sleep and recovery. I'm getting older, work is getting tougher, weights are getting heavier and I have come to the realization I have to play smart and not get hurt.”

Sue Velott finished the Open in seventh place and will be going to the Games for the first time. This was the first Open for the former triathlete and beach volleyball player.

“I didn't do the Open in 2012 because I had a bunch of work travel and I had no idea what was going on,” Velott says. “Plus, I couldn't even do a pull-up. I'm just so thrilled to have even qualified and still find it hard to believe that I'm going.  Expectations are to not have a heart attack and/or faint before the first workout. Seriously, there is so much I still need to learn. I just hope I can enjoy the experience.”

Masters Men 55-59 Division

Newcomer Alan Carter will represent the Masters Men 55-59 Division. He finished the Open in 14th place worldwide.

Masters Women 55-59 Division

Two veterans and two newcomers will represent the Masters Women 55-59 Division.

Annie Michel finished the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games in second place in her division and will be returning to Carson this July after finishing the Open in eighth place.

“This is my second trip to Carson,” Michel says. “It's been a very different, much busier year for me this year, but I'm looking forward to the trip out. I’m looking forward to the whole experience again this year and I'm especially looking forward to seeing friends I made last year. They're a great group of athletes!”

Page Lockhart will be returning to the Masters stage to compete in the Masters competition for the second consecutive year. She finished the Open in 11th in her division.

“There is nothing better than being in your element and getting to compete with some of the most badass women in the world,” Lockhart says. “My goal is to stay healthy and strong and do my absolute best, but it is really about the long haul, and I know the other Masters women understand what I mean. It’s about showing others that you can do amazing things, set an example and inspire others to change their lifestyles at any age. Follow your heart, dream big and you might get to the coolest show on earth — the CrossFit Games!”

Former gymnast Marie “Moie” Garceau earned her first invitation to the CrossFit Games with a 12th-place finish worldwide in the Open. Garceau, whose nephew is 2012 North East Regional competitor Kurt Garceau, has been training with her sister-in-law, Games veteran Marlene Garceau.

“Marlene has showed me what hard work and determination can do,” Marie says. “If it wasn’t for her pushing me, I would not be in this position today. I’m anticipating the excitement of being at the Games and seeing all the passion the athletes will be bringing to the table.”

Paula Moore finished the Open, in 20th place in her division, and will be taking her first trip to Carson as a competitor this July.

“I could not ask for a greater challenge,” Moore says. “I go into this year's Games with so much support and love from my CrossFit Revenge community. I just hope I can make them proud. No matter what the outcome is, I know this will be the greatest experience of my life.”

Masters Men 60+ Division

Games veteran Jerry Fireman will be the sole representative from the North East for the Masters Men 60+ Division. Fireman finished the Open in 17th place and has been focused on avoiding overtraining so that he can perform to the best of his ability on the Masters stage.

“I am hoping for Olympic weightlifting and heavy barbell events,” Fireman says. “I seem to do best at those. I think the competition will be much tougher this year, so I would be very happy to finish in the same place as last year, 14th.”

Masters Women 60+ Division

Two newcomers and a veteran represent the Masters Women 60+ Division at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.

Marlene Garceau finished the Open in second place. After her fourth-place finish at the Games in her division last year, Garceau is looking forward to another trip to Carson.

“My sister-in-law, Moie, is my unwavering training partner, as she was last year when I was preparing for the Games,” Marlene says. “The bonus this year is that she is joining me at the Games as a competitor! I’m looking forward to another exhilarating and rewarding experience, and feel very fortunate that I get to go back and this time, bring my training partner with me.”

Newcomer Carol Gabriel finished the Open in 14th place worldwide and earned an invitation to represent the North East.

Cindy Condos qualified for the Games with a 16th-place finish in the Open. Condos, who suffers from arthritis in her back, was scheduled for a spinal fusion surgery, and her surgeon suggested she work on strengthening her core. She signed up for CrossFit two years ago, and was able to avoid surgery altogether.

"I started this for my physical core strength,” Condos says. “And now it's become the core of who I am."