July 19, 2013
Masters of the North West
By Dan Hollingsworth

The region will send 15 Masters competitors to the CrossFit Games.

Since the inception of the Masters Division of the CrossFit Games in 2010, the North West Region has enjoyed a very healthy, competitive representation. 2013 will prove no different, as the region will be sending 15 total athletes to the StubHub Center.

This year, the Masters have the honor of kicking off the week of competition and will compete at the Track. Here’s a preview of the athletes that will be representing the North West.

40-44 Division

2013 brings a new age division to the CrossFit Games. While there will only be two men representing the North West, there were four athletes that performed well enough in the Open to qualify for the event.

Nathan Loren of CrossFit Fort Vancouver will compete with his team once again in the team competition. Cheryl Brost not only qualified for the Masters competition, but also qualified for Regionals as an individual. Unfortunately, she suffered an injury at Regionals and will be unable to compete at the Games.

This newest age division will bring two new Games competitors and former collegiate athletes to the stage, Keith Chrisman of North West CrossFit Bellevue and Chris Exarhos of Kitsap CrossFit.

Chrisman, a former football player at Central Washington University, has never competed as an individual in any CrossFit event. He did, however, compete at the North West Regional this year with his affiliate.

“My goal is to do what I coach my kids to do — simply give it my best effort and be as prepared as I can,” he says of his goal for the Games.

Exarhos played hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and pursued a professional hockey career for a short time after college. In 2012, Exarhos qualified for Regionals and finished in 21st place overall. This year, a less than satisfactory performance on 13.3 left him out of the top 20 at the close of the Open. However, three of the top-20 men opted out of the competition, opening the door for Exarhos to receive an invitation in the second wave.

Appreciative of the invite, Exarhos says he has some ground to make up to prove he belongs.

“I am the last person to make the field so I look at it like I have the most work to do just to keep up,” he says. “This mindset keeps me from thinking too far ahead.”

45-49 Division

All three of the qualified North West athletes in this age group will rely on their experience from previous CrossFit Games competition to help them remain focused in 2013.

Full-time owner of Beaverton CrossFit and former competitive martial artist and ultra-endurance athlete, Mike Ford makes a return trip to the Masters competition this year. Ford is looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the Games experience, as he feels he was stressed out and took things too seriously last year. This doesn’t mean he plans to take it easy, however. Ford’s goal is a top-five finish.

Maple Valley CrossFit athlete, Chad Karlewicz also makes a return trip to Carson, Calif. Karlewicz placed 12th at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games in his division. In 2012, he finished the Open in a tie for 20th place, but lost out on the tiebreak.

Events on the Track could definitely favor Karlewicz, as he possesses a one-minute 400-meter time.

Lake Hills CrossFit owner, Janice Spray will be making her third trip to the CrossFit Games, one of only two North West Masters to qualify three times. She had a top-five finish in 2011. However, in 2012, Spray finished in 18th. She admits she wasn’t fully prepared mentally.

“I probably went into the Games already defeated, and especially so after looking around at my fellow, gigantic competitors! At the outcome of the competition, I felt humbled and disappointed, yet determined to do better … next year.”

50-54 Division

Three men and three women will grace the Track in Carson in this division. The group consists of a past champion, two prior qualifiers and three first-timers.

Tony Kubitschek, owner of CrossFit Station returns to the Games after a fifth-place finish in 2012. The 51-year-old was sidelined with minor injuries that prevented him from running and jumping earlier this year, but now feels ready for whatever is thrown at him.

“I plan on working my ass off and get what I can get,” he says.

Seattle native, Eric Jarvis is one of three athletes who qualified from CrossFit Bellevue. This self-professed jack-of-all-trades has a history in tennis, skiing, soccer and is a three-handicap golfer. Jarvis’ primary goal for 2013 was to qualify for the Games, and after finishing the Open in 11th place he has stepped up his training.

Ken Idler of Fall Out CrossFit will make his first appearance at the CrossFit Games this year. Idler’s consistency throughout the Open secured his invitation.

CrossFit Reflexion’s, Joy Bruening is focused on a podium finish. Fueled by a fourth-place finish at the Games last year, this former collegiate basketball player has been focusing on improving her Olympic lifts and her overall strength. She says she's a competitive person by nature and has to constantly remind herself that having fun is the name of the game.

Laurie Carver rounds out the CrossFit Bellevue trio. Carver stands as having the most Games experience of all the North West Masters, having now qualified for all four years there has been a Masters competition.

In 2010, she took home the Masters championship. She has established herself as an athlete to watch, as she placed in the top-20 worldwide in every event of the Open this year.

CrossFit Marysville athlete and first-time Games qualifier, Litsa Olsson is a former high-level competitive gymnast, who once placed 14th at Junior Nationals. While she performs well in bodyweight movements to include zipping up and down a climbing rope faster than those half her age, she can also hold her own with a barbell. Olsson possesses a 270-lb. back squat and 305-lb. deadlift.

55-59 Division

Two of the three athletes in this division competing out of the region have prior Games experience they will be relying on during competition.

Donald King is the lone male representative in this age group and is a first-time Games qualifier. The CrossFit Tacoma athlete had strong performances in the Open and finished in fifth place overall.

On the women’s side, Holly Arrow, a research psychologist who finished in eighth place last year, relies on her chosen field of study during competition.

“My understanding of psychology helps me with the mental game, which I find to be almost as important in competition as being physically ready.”

Lisa Long returns to Carson after a one-year hiatus from the Games. In 2011, she placed ninth in the 50-54 Division. Her trip this year will be extra special because after she completes her competition, she will then get the chance to cheer on her daughter Rory Zambard who won the women’s competition at the North West Regional this year.