May 25, 2013
NorCal Regional Report: Walking the Minefield
By Hilary Achauer

Event 2 is a minefield. As they walked to their bars, the women were mindful of the fact that Shana Alverson and Andrea Ager both lost their opportunity to compete at the CrossFit Games after failing to make three reps at their opening weights.

View more photos here.


With Event 1 out of the way, the NorCal athletes got down to business. Events 2 and 3 seem simple in theory—overhead squats and burpee muscle-ups—but they are a whole different animal in practice. Athletes must choose their opening weight carefully on the overhead squats, and then be careful not to burn out their arms on the punishing burpee muscle-ups.

Despite the hard work and the nerves, the athletes and spectators are here because they love CrossFit.

One of the fans in attendance was Rosemary Wreaks, Blair Morrison’s grandmother.

“I’ve been at almost every major CrossFit event for (Morrison), especially when he earned fifth in the world at 2010 CrossFit Games,” Wreaks said.

“I have been to all the Regional competitions since 2009, and they’ve grown bigger and better every year,” she said.


It was the show everyone was waiting for. Neal Maddox and Jason Khalipa, side by side, moving heavy barbells. Event 2, a 7-minute ladder of three consecutive overhead squats, was a chance for the NorCal athletes to showcase their strength.

Khalipa, Maddox, Garret Fisher, and Buddy Hitchcock all opened up strong with 255 lbs. The weight was no problem for any of them.

Pat Barber took a more conservative approach, starting off with 235-lbs.

With 255 lbs., out of the way, Khalipa and Maddox worked their way up the ladder, dispatching with 275 lbs., then 285 lbs.

While they worked, Barber rested, watching his NorCal teammates.

Then Barber got to work again, loading up his bar with 265 lbs. He made the three reps, a smile lighting up his face. Barber finished up with one rep at 275 lbs., which tied him for 10th place.

Barber stopped there, but Khalipa and Maddox were not done. Khalipa got three reps at 295 lbs., and not to be outdone, Maddox put 295 lbs. overhead.

Maddox ripped out a lightning-fast three reps, all in under ten seconds. Maddox and Khalipa didn’t match the record set in the North East by Mathew Fraser (he got two reps at 315 lbs.), but they tied for first place in the NorCal region.

Then the men took to the rings for Event 3, all athletes neck and neck for the first ten reps. The wind picked up, blowing the rings out of reach, and the burpee muscle-ups started to take their toll.

As the minutes wore on, Maddox, Khalipa, and Buddy Hitchcock took the lead.

Hitchcock and Maddox pulled ahead, each with four reps to go. Maddox looked as if he was on pace to win the event, and then he failed to lock out at the top of his 28th rep. Discouraged, Maddox tried again. Another missed lockout, another “no-rep.”

The wind blew, but Hitchcock kept working. Twenty-eight, 29, 30. He was done, winning the event with a time of 4:39.

Maddox was left behind, still struggling with his last two reps. After a rest, Maddox finished more than a minute later in 5:45. Despite his 10th place finish, Maddox is still in second place overall at the end of the day.

Marcus Filly surprised the crowd by taking second in Event 1 and third in Event 2, but finished 18th in Event 3. He admitted he was frustrated by the wind.

“I challenge anyone in the world to come to Sonoma and do the burpee muscle-ups in this wind,” Filly said. “I was 1:40 longer than my usual time."

Khalipa, who took second in Event 3, is in first place overall at the end of the first day.

“So far, so good,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of work and enjoying the experience. Two more days to go though, and a lot of work, but if you aren’t enjoying it, you shouldn’t be here.”

Event 2
1T. Jason Khalipa and Neal Maddox (295.30)
3. Marcus Filly (295.10)

Event 3
1. Buddy Hitchcock (4:39)
2. Jason Khalipa (4:47)
3. Anthony Malta (4:59)

1. Jason Khalipa (4)
2. Neal Maddox (14)
3. Garret Fisher (16)


Event 2 is a minefield. As they walked to their bars, the women were mindful of the fact that Shana Alverson and Andrea Ager both lost their opportunity to compete at the CrossFit Games after failing to make three reps at their opening weights.

They knew they had to choose wisely.

With this in mind, Miranda Oldroyd opened up with 145 lbs.

“I have never missed 155 lbs.,” Oldroyd said.

Battling nerves and fatigue from the morning, Oldroyd missed her third rep at 145-lbs. Oldroyd’s husband, Tyson, shouted encouragement from the crowd as she rested before attempting again.

Oldroyd tried 145 lbs. again, and missed the third rep. Finally, on her third attempt, Oldroyd made the three reps. She went on to get one rep at 160 lbs.

"My goal was to get to 165 and that didn't happen today," Oldroyd said after the event.

Chyna Cho was all smiles before Events 2 and 3. “I’m looking forward to this one, but the weights feel a little heavier than normal!” she said, laughing.

Cho made light work of the heavy weights, tying for third place with Ashley Carriveau; both women made all three reps at 185 lbs.

Katie Hogan knew this event was where she had to make her move. She was all smiles as she worked through the weights, finishing with one overhead squat at 195 lbs.

“It was fun!” Hogan said. “Better than planned. I lifted more than I expected. I would have been happy at 185 lbs.”

Sarah Hopping was the only woman to beat Hogan by completing 3 reps at 195. None of the women were able to beat Lindsey Valenzuela’s world record of three reps at 205 lbs.

Chyna Cho continued her journey up the Leaderboard in Event 3. Cho started off head-to-head with Hogan, but she quickly pulled ahead at about the tenth rep.

While the women worked through their 30 burpee muscle-ups, the wind picked up again, blowing the rings in every direction. This became especially challenging for the shorter athletes, who had to jump to a moving target.

Even as Cho repeatedly got stuck in the dip, she fought to lock out her arms and kept steadily moving through her burpee muscle-ups.

Cho finished her muscle-ups in 6:42; the only woman to finish this event.

“The wind was blowing a little but the mat made the rings a little lower than I practiced,” Cho said, “so that was good. I told myself I had to finish to stay competitive. My cheering section was right in front of me. I could never have done it without them,” she said.

In the final heat, Annie Sakamoto was on track to finish her burpee muscle-ups, until she got to rep number 27.

Five foot tall Sakamoto had to take careful aim and leap to catch the rings. Once the wind picked up, this became a daunting task. Sakamoto never got her 28th burpee muscle-up.

“I liked it until number 27,” Sakamoto said. “It’s really hard to get to the rings, and I couldn’t kip any more at 27.”

Sakamoto is happy with how the day turned out overall.

“I loved the overhead squats,” she said. “I wanted to get my 175-lbs., and I was happy.”

The 120-lb. Sakamoto did better than that. She got three reps at 180 lbs., which tied her for eighth and put her in fourth overall.

Event 2
1. Sarah Hopping (195.30)
2. Katie Hogan (195.10)
3T. Ashley Carriveau, Chyna Cho, and Amy Woods (185.30)

Event 3
1. Chyna Cho (6:42)
2. Ashley Carriveau (7:03)
3T. Alessandra Pichelli and Annie Sakamoto (7:04)

1. Ashley Carriveau (8)
2. Chyna Cho (9)
3. Alessandra Pichelli (11)


Events 2 and 3 were a test of the team’s strength, gymnastics skills, strategy, and teamwork.

All six team members took the floor and divided by gender. First, the women found their 3-rep max overhead squat (Event 2) while the men completed as many burpee muscle-ups as possible (Event 3), all within 7 minutes. Then they switched.

Anthony Ostland of TJ’s Gym knew it would be tough for his team. His fellow teammate, Amy Blackburn, had never been able to get a muscle-up. Today she would have to attempt one after multiple overhead squats.

“Fatigue is a problem,” Ostland said. “We’re going to give it our all out here to conquer some muscle-ups.”

The women of CrossFit 808 took a bold approach to their overhead squats, starting out with 165 lbs. The next jump up, 175 lbs., was no trouble either, with each of the three women making three reps easily. They weren’t all able to complete three reps with 185 lbs., but their performance, combined with a strong showing from the men, earned a first-place finish for the team on Event 2, putting them in first place overall at the end of Day 1.

Second place in the Event 2 was Rocklin CrossFit. Eighteen-year-old Valerie Calhoun carried her teammates, completing three reps at 150 lbs., 160 lbs., and 165 lbs.

Brooke Ence, of CrossFit West, worked up to the heaviest attempt in the team competition heats with 195-lbs. She completed two reps and then fought to stabilize the weight overhead, walking a slow circle on the platform before losing the bar and missing her last rep.  

Gary Baron of Rocklin CrossFit cleaned a 305-lb. barbell with just 45 seconds left on the clock. Working steadily, Baron made the three reps with 15 seconds to spare.

“I knew I could do it,” Baron said. “I have done it before at home, today I had to take up some slack.”

Event 3, the burpee muscle-ups, caused trouble for many of the teams. Fatigued from the overhead squats, CrossFit Lodi, Delta CrossFit, and CrossFit San Jose all earned DNFs on Event 3.

In an event that proved to be tough for the field of NorCal women, several experienced the thrill of competition victory. When Terrah Owens of Humboldt CrossFit, got on top of the rings, her team erupted in cheers, allowing her to forget the competition for a minute.

When asked if it was the first one, Owens said, “No, I did one a couple of weeks ago.”

Her teammate, Raul Zepeda, said they were happy to have made it through that event. “We made it through, we didn’t get disqualified,” he said. 

Amy Blackburn, from TJ’s Gym, approached the rings, trying for her first-ever muscle-up. It was less than ideal conditions. She had just done overhead squats, and the rings were at a pre-set height.

Blackburn grabbed the rings, swung, and made it to the top. She had just gotten her first muscle-up, in front of a screaming crowd at the 2013 NorCal Regional competition.

Team Event 2
1. CrossFit 808 (1270.00)
2. Rocklin CrossFit (1180.00)
3. CrossFit Santa Cruz (1170.00)

Team Event 3
1. CrossFit East Sacramento (106)
2. CrossFit 808 (104)
3. Diablo CrossFit Anejo (100)

1. CrossFit 808 (6)
2. CrossFit Santa Cruz (10)
3. Rocklin CrossFit (10)