May 3, 2013
Nailing Down a Second Chance: Josh Silvernail
By James Toland

“I'm always grateful to have the chance to even do what I do. I'm extremely blessed that God gave me this second opportunity to show the region what I've got … I do feel like an underdog and I love it!”
Photos by: Marco Fernandez

Missing qualification for Regionals can be devastating. Coming in 49th is even worse. Josh Silvernail knows this all too well, as he fell one spot short of qualification for the North Central Regional this year.

For the first four weeks of the Open, Silvernail put up solid scores in North Central. Heading into the final week, he was in the qualifying pack.

Then, pneumonia that was brewing in his lungs took him down.

“(I) just couldn’t breathe,” he says.

On Thursday, April 4, he breathlessly made it through 131 reps on 13.5. He hoped against the odds that it would be enough to keep him within the top 48. Day by day, however, he saw his name fall down the Leaderboard. By Sunday, he was panicking.

“Sunday was not fun. I tried to do 13.5 again and it was an epic failure,” he says.

After his final, futile attempt at 13.5, he resigned himself to obsessive Leaderboarding.

“Once I got home, I started to check to see how far I had dropped in the standings. I thought since I was 25th after 13.4 that my score would have to hold up to keep me in. I was sitting top 30 still at 6:30 at night. All of the sudden, all hell broke loose on the Leaderboard. Every time I hit refresh, I kept watching my name drop and drop and drop. I was trying to calculate everything. Seven p.m. hit and I was in 45th place. I didn't know what was going on. Finally, at 7:15, my heart sank when the final update hit for the first time. I had missed by one spot,” he says.

“I just remember feeling like I got kicked in the stomach. I felt sicker than I was already. I literally sat down and just couldn't believe it. I couldn't move. All I could replay was that I was stupid for not pushing harder on any one of these other workouts. One rep on any of those workouts and I was in … I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like I let a lot of people down.”

After the shock wore off, he started planning for the Team competition at the North Central Regional. His box, CrossFit AMRAP, finished in the dead center of the qualifying pack (13th).

Then on Facebook, he was reminded of one key aspect of the CrossFit Games — any man in the top 48 could decline his invite to the Individual competition in favor of Team. As the 49th ranked man, he was the first in line for a cast-off ticket to the Regional.

“There was a Facebook post on the North Central site saying that invites would be sent out that day for the second round. That whole day I checked my email at least a dozen times,” he recalls. “Nothing came. I was set on Team. I figured that I for sure didn't make it. Middle of the next day, I got the email. (I) dropped what I was doing, immediately registered and felt like someone hit me with those electrical paddles that revive you. I was stoked. I sent a couple texts out because a lot of people were asking me.”

Now, a little later than many, he has started training for the heavier loads at Regionals.

“I'm honestly just getting back into things. I took almost two months off of heavy training. I haven't tried to max any lifts, and all during the Open, I only performed the Open workouts. So now, with a little over a month left, I'm going to try and get my strength back up,” he says.

Strength and health are Silvernail’s two main concerns. He’s not worried about his conditioning or endurance.

“I just have to get completely healthy and figure out how to stay healthy,” he says. “Endurance has never really been an issue to get back.”

As an underdog who has been given a second chance, Silvernail is eager to prove himself.

“I'm always grateful to have the chance to even do what I do. I'm extremely blessed that God gave me this second opportunity to show the region what I've got. I do feel like I have something to prove … I do feel like an underdog and I love it!”