July 12, 2012
NorCal Masters
By Leah Lutz

NorCal has athletes representing the Masters in every age division.


“The competition in every division is going to be very tough. I don't think the Masters will be any different,” Richard Henson says.

These sentiments sum up the thoughts of every NorCal Master heading to the Games this week. With representatives in every age bracket, NorCal is a formidable force in the growing Masters arena.

Men 45-49

Chris Carroll, Tim Ige and Freddy Camacho are competing in the Masters 45-49 division.

Chris Carroll of Humbolt CrossFit has a strong endurance sports background and loves the balance CrossFit has brought to his fitness. Timothy Ige has been training lately with fellow Masters Mark Laakso and Will Burke. Freddy Camacho of CrossFit One World, heads to Carson for his second Masters Games appearance.

Men 50-54

Will Burke of CrossFit Oahu, finished eighth overall in his division, and has been training hard with the other Masters men of Hawaii. They are determined to represent their gyms and state well.

Lee James of CrossFit Redding, started CrossFit two years after the urging of his wife. He has been training under several coaches, with some CrossFit Football programming to round out his strength and conditioning in preparation for the Games.

Men 55-59

Tim Anderson of South Tahoe CrossFit, proved his strength and skill early in the season with a first place finish in Open Workout 2, finishing 16 reps with the 120-pound snatch. Rich LeFurgy of CrossFit Marin, is a three year CrossFit veteran and finished right behind him.

Men 60+

Steve Gray of CrossFit Davis, has played and coached college rugby for over 40 years for clubs in Southern California, South Africa and Wales. One of his sons, a CrossFitter and one of his rugby players, encouraged him to look into CrossFit, and he is now heading down to Carson to compete in the Games for the second year in a row.

Richard Henson of CrossFit 530 in Redding, is in his first year of CrossFit. He is thrilled to be going to the Games and even more excited to be sharing the whole experience with his son and trainer Rich Henson II. The opportunity to compete in the Games is really a capstone to the many great CrossFit experiences he has already enjoyed. “I have gone from 210 lbs to 180 lbs, eliminated some knee and shoulder joint problems, and can do exercises that I thought I left behind in my twenties and thirties,” he says.

Clarke Holland, a senior partner of a small law firm, came to CrossFit just a little over a year ago as a runner. After training and working towards competitive CrossFit, he sees that CrossFit has improved his running, enabling him to hit lifetime PRs in the 5K (20:35) and half-marathon (1:41). “I actually started CrossFit to improve my running. It did, but now I am a CrossFitter that runs, not the other way around,” he says.

Chris Kulp, the runner-up for this division in the 2011 Games is known as “The Professor.” He maintains a busy schedule of teaching, CrossFitting and family. With a long background in mountain climbing, Kulp is no stranger to long grueling work, and he is heading to Carson to fight for his place on the podium with everything he’s got.

Mark Laakso, also of CrossFit Oahu, is yet another NorCal Master set to return to Carson for the second year.  After finishing third last year, Laasko is excited for his return visit with the goal of moving up the ranks.

Women 45-49                                                                                                                                                         

Representing NorCal in the 45-49 division are Cori Boone and Lynn Hunter. Cori Boone comes from CrossFit East Sac, and has been training hard and placing well in local competitions. She’s now ready to test her strength, skills and focus on the ultimate CrossFit testing ground. 

Lynn Hunter of Rocklin CrossFit, was a member of the highly competitive Rocklin CrossFit Honey Badgers Team, and she competed in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games as a Rocklin team member as well.

Women 50-54

Heidi Fish, a CrossFitter since 2007, finished second in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games in this division, and comes into the 2012 Games in seventh place. A model of fitness in her workplace, Fish has been committed to sharing CrossFit with colleagues. She is a dedicated, determined competitor with plenty of CrossFit under her belt and even more training this year. 

Yvonne Howard, of Diablo CrossFit, lives and breathes CrossFit. Qualifying for the 2012 Games is an exciting capstone to all she does day in and day out. Howard is one of the owners of Diablo CrossFit, a booming box with a team that will be returning to the Games again this year. “The only thing not CrossFit in my life is my 8-year-old daughter Alana, but she is doing CrossFit Kids now so I am trying to turn her into her Mama,” Howard says.

Right after the Open this year Howard found out her appendix was ruptured. After a week-long hospital stay and a staph infection, she lost four weeks of training, 10 pounds and a lot of strength. “I have been eating and working out hard to get back on track for the last six weeks,” she says. “My biggest triumph was that I got my muscle-ups back just three weeks ago. I had to take a break from them after shoulder surgery.”

Women 55-59

Charm Mathis of CrossFit Excel, is ready for year number two. Through the Open, she continued to excel earning first place in her division in Open workout 2.

Shaun Havard, of CrossFit SAC, was first encouraged to try CrossFit by her son. “At a time in life when people are complaining about aches and pains, I am thrilled that mine are a result of hard work and pushing myself to keep up with my fellow gym mates--my friends and accomplices,” she says. “I am passionate about CrossFit because I am inspired by all sorts of things that happen daily in the gym. Not only the successes, but the attempts. Not only the thrill from what comes easily, but the frustration from what is difficult. Not only the commitment to hard work, but the desire to make that work fun.”

Marilou Seiff, of CrossFit San Mateo, gave King, the top finisher, a run for her money all through the Open as they often swapped the first and second place ranks each week, finally finishing right behind her in second place.

Marnel King, of CrossFit San Jose, is the number one female in the Women 55-59 division. In Workout 4, King was the only competitor in her division to complete a muscle-up. One significant change in King’s training from last year to this has been the addition of a coach.

Women 60+

Lois Charlton, of Northstate CrossFit, has been a CrossFitter for two years and has watched her fitness improve dramatically throughout.

Theresa Foster, of Rocklin CrossFit, explains why she, and so many of her fellow Masters love this world of CrossFit: “It's challenging and pushes me beyond what I would do alone. It gets me to work muscles I don't usually work. “

While many of the NorCal Masters are seasoned CrossFit competitors, Mary Schwing, of CrossFit 808, is newer to the world of CrossFit. Schwing is nervous and excited, eager to meet new friends and finish strong in the great field of competitors.

As with so many of the Masters this year, their coaches are key. Schwing is one of many who readily acknowledge the input, sacrifice and care of a coach. “My life is busy outside of CrossFit. I am a marriage and family therapist and a substance abuse counselor working for an agency as well as private practice,” she says. “CrossFit 808 has been wonderful in letting me run in and out of the box completing WODs as I can fit them in.”

Kristine Sessions is heading into the Games right at the top of her division, having put up a remarkably consistent performance all through the Open. Sessions never imagined herself competing and always assumed she’d be enjoying the Games from the stands. “I have truly been taken out of my comfort zone and am realizing every day just how strong I am both mentally and physically,” she says.

In the process of training and competing, Sessions has learned that she is incredibly competitive, especially with herself. The greatest challenge Sessions will face is the absence of her son Ryan at the Games. He's a Phoenix Raven in the US Air Force and was sent overseas for three months, and his mom will miss seeing his face in the stands as she competes.