June 8, 2013
Mid Atlantic Regional Report: Embrace the Suck
By Stephanie Vincent

“I really wanted to put the dumbbell down, but I looked right and I was slowly catching everybody in front of me so it was motivating for me to just keep going.” ~Nate Schrader

Chippers bring their own special brand of suck.

This morning, Mid Atlantic athletes experienced this first hand as they took on Event 4, lovingly called "The 100s."

Before the competition, a few athletes discussed how they attack chippers.

“They’re not in my wheel house, so I pace myself,” Kyle Ruth said.

 “I figure out what I am good at and make up the time there,” Preston Austin said.

Regional Director, Chriss Smith Jr. shared his thoughts on chippers, as well.

“I like to start slow and speed up,” he said. “I like to take my time in the middle, gain some momentum and finish strong.”

"I focus on one task at a time and not get caught up with the whole thing,” said Christina Ruggiero, who was fourth coming into Day 2.

Ruggerio has been to Regionals before and this is the highest she has reached on the Leaderboard. She came in 61st in the 2013 Open, making the cut in the second wave of invites.  

"This is the highest I've ever been. Pretty crazy,” she said. “This is my fourth Regionals. Today is where it definitely counts. Yesterday was fun — classic CrossFit Jackie and some skills. Today is where the rubber meets the road. We'll see what happens. Taking it one event at a time.”

While Ruggerio finds herself doing better than she imagined, others were disappointed their Open scores didn’t translate at Regionals.

Chad Michael was second in the Open, but was dead last at the start of today. Disappointment was written all over his face.

“I’m going to use this as a learning experience,” Michael said.

First place to last, there was no escaping the nightmare of Event 4.  With a variety of tactics in hand, athletes put in the work and found out where they fell when the clock ran out.


Only four Mid Atlantic men were able to complete Event 4. 

In Heat 2, Kevin Knight, a first-time Regional competitor finished in 24:43. The remaining three finishers came from the final heat.

The men awaited 3-2-1 … Go! and you could see the nerves on their faces. Ben Smith and Steve Pinkerton threw off their shirts just as the clock counted down.

Pinkerton was first off the wall balls, but fell quickly behind on the pull-ups. He was the only athlete on the rig not performing butterfly style. 

Smith took the lead going into the pull-ups and never let it go.   

Sean Thomson and David Borrelli stayed on his heels through the pistols, but both fell away during the dumbbell snatch. 

“It was a good workout for me because I’ve got decent endurance, but I just wanted to go out there and hit it hard,” Borelli said.

Gary Helmick gained ground during the snatch. He was close behind Smith, but suddenly Games veteran, Nate Schrader pulled into second place, leaving Helmick to finish third. 

“I really wanted to put the dumbbell down, but I looked right and I was slowly catching everybody in front of me so it was motivating for me to just keep going,” Schrader said.

Although they showed early promise, Borelli finished ninth (25:15) and Thomson 11th (25:19)

Smith and Jordan Troyan remain in first and second, respectively, where they started the day. However, Ruth has been replaced with Helmick.  

Event 4 Standings

1. Ben Smith (22:36
2. Nate Schrader (29:09)
3. Gary Helmick (24:25)

Overall Standings

1. Ben Smith (8)
2. Jordan Troyan (25)
3. Gary Helmick (26)


Michelle Crawford came into Event 4 looking strong. While the other competitors took longer breaks on the wall balls, Crawford did 50 unbroken and completed the remaining in smaller sets. Crawford kept up with even sets on the chest-to-bars, doing five at a time. The further she got into the pull-ups, the longer her breaks became.

Shanna Duvall proved she was great with gymnastics (the only female competitor to finish the burpee muscle-ups on Event 3) and finished her pull-ups second, the first to gain ground on Crawford. However, Duvall couldn’t catch her and fell further behind as the event progressed.

“I lost ground mentally,” says Duvall who was noticeably upset after taking fourth (25:42) in the event.

The most seasoned competitor in the building, Christy Phillips, finally pushed past Crawford, completing 60 pistols and was the first to step on the 80-rep mark.

Phillips led Crawford and the others through the first set of snatches. 

Alea Helmick made quick work of the pistols, pushing past the others and lining herself up with Phillips and Crawford on the 40-rep mark in the dumbbell snatches.

Helmick looked stronger on the snatches than Crawford and Phillips. Philips finished 60 reps and stepped forward, then Helmick overtook Crawford, locking down second place.    

When the buzzer sounded, Phillips had 15 reps to go, Helmick 20 and Crawford 25.

Crawford couldn’t maintain her lead, but she is still satisfied with the outcome.

“I am happy with the way things turned out. I feel like I executed my plan to the best of my ability. Hey, I was nine points out coming into today’s workout, so I can still see a spot for me on the podium,” Crawford said.

Event 4 shook up the Leaderboard. Ruggiero slipped from fourth to eighth place and Dara Ching fell from third to seventh.

Phillips and Gretchen Kittelberger are looking solid in first and second place, respectively.

At the beginning of the day, Phillips predicted that Crawford would be the one to make it to the Games for the first time. 

“I know she’s a really strong competitor. Today will be a good day for her and so will tomorrow,” Phillips said. 

After Event 4, Crawford is in third place. If she can maintain her hold, she’ll prove Phillips right.

Five points behind Crawford is school teacher and rookie CrossFitter, Helmick. Five points is not a large cushion for this level of competition. The ladies will have to work hard in the next three events to earn a ticket to the Games.

Event 4 Standings

1. Christy Philips (25:15)
2. Alea Helmick (25:20)
3. Michelle Crawford (25:25)

Overall Standings

1. Christy Philips (13)
2. Gretchen Kittelberger (17)
3. Michelle Crawford (27)


Going into the final heat of Event 4, the time to beat was 20:24, put up by Ultimate CrossFit. From the beginning, it looked like that score would be blown out of the water.

CrossFit Woodbridge took the lead when their starter male moved from the wall balls to the pull-ups. However, it was CrossFit Reston and RAW Training that battled for the lead.

RAW Training had the first team member on the finishing pad, but CrossFit Reston was the first to put all three males on the pad and all three ladies in motion. 

“It felt like someone was chasing you at all times,” Bethany Lauster of RAW Training said.

RAW Training regained the lead as the first to have two women complete their reps, but then the tide started to turn.

Emily Pale of CrossFit Explode seemed to come out of nowhere, plowing through each station with hardly a moment’s rest. Pale would seal the deal, giving CrossFit Explode their second first-place win of the weekend.

“I looked at Emily yesterday and she looked solid, looked like she felt real good and confident,” CrossFit Explode coach and teammate Brian Quinlan said. “So we made a last-minute decision last night to put Emily in the last spot and just have her take off, and she did. She did just what we thought she would do.”

CrossFit Woodbridge had no obvious lead in the first minutes of the event. No one seemed to notice them gaining ground on the other teams.

“I could hear it going back between RAW and Explode,” Sara Wood of CrossFit Woodbridge said. “I knew it [we were gaining ground] when I was on my last couple of reps. Someone said, 'Look at lane two, Woodbridge.' I thought ‘Hurry up!’”

CrossFit Woodbridge finished in third place, just 24 seconds after RAW Training who took second. 

CrossFit Reston’s men came out strong, but their ladies could not maintain the pace. They finished the event in fifth (18:43).

After four events, it’s three Pennsylvania teams that find themselves at the top of the Leaderboard.

Event 4 Standings

1. CrossFit Explode (16:13)
2. RAW Training (17:33)
3. CrossFit Woodbridge (17:57)

Overall Standings

1. CrossFit Explode (9)
2. RAW Training (9)
3. CFWC Snatches and Jerks (24)