June 1, 2014
NorCal Update: Day 2
By Hilary Achauer, with Matt Nichols and Laura Lee Cole
This might finally be Chyna Cho's year.
This might finally be Chyna Cho's year.


This might finally be Chyna Cho's year.

This might finally be Chyna Cho’s year. After competing in the 2010 Games, Cho has just missed qualifying for the Games every year since. In 2011 she tied for third place at the NorCal Regional and lost the tiebreaker.

After winning Event 5, Cho is in second place at the end of Day 2.

“It is really awesome to be in contention,” Cho said. “The field gets stronger and more challenging every year. It's amazing to be where I am.”

On the men’s side, the same three men stayed in the top three, although Neal Maddox took Jason Khalipa’s first-place spot. However, the race is extremely tight going into the last day of competition. Only five points separate first and fourth place.

Marcus Filly ended the day just out of the top three—he has the same number of points as third-place Ben Alderman. He wants to move up.

“Being in contention just means my mind is alert and heightened,” Filly said. “Nobody wants to be heading into the last day trying to find a reason to do it. I've got a good reason.”


Event 4

In Event 4, it was the veteran versus the newcomer.

Experienced CrossFit athlete Annie Sakamoto and novice Courtney Walker traded off the lead for much of the event, a triplet of strict handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees.

Sakamoto finished her 21 strict handstand push-ups first, walking to her bar for the front squats while the crowd roared.

Right behind Sakamoto was Walker, a former UCLA gymnast. Sakamoto stayed in the lead through the round of 21, and then moved on to the set of 15, keeping her lead with rapid front squats. Walker took a bit longer to finish her 15 front squats, pausing at the top of each rep.

Walker employed a snaking technique on her burpees, worming her way up from the floor to save her arms for the handstand push-ups. This strategy allowed Walker to pull ahead and take the lead as she went on to the 9 handstand push-ups.

The 38-year-old Sakamoto stayed right on Walker’s heels, not allowing the 29-year-old get too far ahead.

“I was aware of where she was at,” Walker said about Sakamoto. “Every time I walked back to do my handstand push-ups my coach was trying to get me to run. But I tried to stay on my game plan and only picked it up at the very end to stay right ahead of her.”  

Walker won the event with a time of 10 minutes, and Sakamoto finished in second with a time of 10:05. The win moved Walker into first place.

A surprise third-place finish came from Cheri Felisilda, who competed in the first heat, and finished with a time of 11:13. Cheryl Brost took fourth, which moved her to fourth overall.

“The first day was my tougher day,” Brost said. “I was really happy to squeak a win out with the handstand walk. It really helped me get a foothold, to get within striking distance."

About the remaining events, Brost said, "I should do well in all of them. I don't know if I'll do well enough for first place, or second place, but it doesn't matter. I put myself in a position where I can compete, and I'll try to battle for a top spot."

Women's Event 4
1. Courtney Walker (10:00)
2. Annie Sakamoto (10:05)
3. Cheri Felisilda (11:13)

Event 5

Before Event 5, Chyna Cho said she was looking forward to this event, a mix of sprints and legless rope climbs.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily my best event, but I am very confident in my pulling abilities,” Cho said.

“I’m looking for a top five finish,” she added.

Cho did better than that. She won the event, finishing in 4:59.

In this event, the women who started out in the lead didn’t always finish first. Cho broke this trend. She took the lead after the second rope climb and didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the event.

Cho moved quickly up the rope each time, pulling with her arms instead of using a kip like most of the other women.

Going into this event, Alessandra Pichelli was a favorite to win—she was the winner of the Legless event at the 2013 Games, which included legless rope climbs. Although Pichelli never failed a rope climb in Event 5, she fell behind after the first rope climb and was never able to catch up to Cho.

By the time she finished her last climb Cho was well in the lead, and she smiled widely as she sprinted to the finish to win the event.

After the event, Cho said she doesn’t know how to kip rope climbs.

“It takes too much out of my grip to kip,” she said, “and it wasn't fast enough. Being able to take small, fast pulls got me up the rope faster and didn't tire out my grip.”

Behind Cho was Margaux Alvarez, who tied with Crista Jorgensen, competing in an earlier heat. Unlike Cho, Alvarez used a strong kip on her climbs.

“I was very happy with my finish,” Alvarez said. “That was how I practiced it. The goal was to not fail, to stick to my own pace, don’t really worry about anyone else around me, and make sure that at least my entire palm was above that beam.”

Alvarez said she’s looking forward to the final day.

“The 50s (Event 6) is a gnarly workout but I am hoping to have a strong finish with that one,” Alvarez said. “(A) goal would be top three, I would like to do first. Endurance is a part of my background from running. I want to go out there have fun and enjoy. I need to stick to my plan and execute.”

Women's Event 5
1. Chyna Cho (04:59)                                            
2T. Margaux Alvarez (05:34)        
2T. Crista Jorgensen (05:34)                                                                                 

Overall Standings
1. Courtney Walker (24)
2. Chyna Cho (28)
3. Alessandra Pichelli (30)
4. Margaux Alvarez (34)
5. Cheryl Brost (38)
6. Brooke Ence (49)
7. Annie Sakamoto (51)
8. Lisa Warren (52)
9. Whitney Heuser (56)
10. Molly Vollmer (56)


Event 4

Jason Khalipa won his heat, but he didn’t win the event.

It was Anthony Malta, competing in the second to last heat, who won Event 4. He finished with a time of 10:01 for this triplet of strict handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees, beating second-place Khalipa by 21 seconds.

The 5-foot-6, 155-lb. Malta pulled away from the field with quick, unbroken sets of handstand push-ups throughout the event. After completing his set of six burpees, Malta sprinted to the wall for the final three handstand push-ups, then ran back to the barbell for his final three front squats and burpees.

“I knew I could go unbroken on the push-ups,” Malta said. “I just wanted to get out there and see how it felt. If I felt I had to break them up I’d break them up but get right back on the wall. But I felt good so I just went unbroken the whole time.”

In the last heat, Khalipa took an early lead when he completed the 21 front squats unbroken. Behind him, Ben Alderman broke up his front squats, allowing Marcus Filly to move into the second spot. Khalipa broke up his 15 handstand push-ups into four sets, and made it to the front squats about 10 reps ahead of second-place Filly.

Breaking up the next set of handstand push-ups into sets of five and four, Khalipa jogged back to the front squats, with Filly and then Garret Fisher behind him. Khalipa went unbroken on the rest of the movements, running back to the bar for his final sets of 3 fronts squats and burpees and finished first in his heat at 10:22, almost one minute before Filly, who finished second.

“I heard some dude won with 10:01, unbroken,” Khalipa told Miranda Oldroyd after the event. “I could’ve gone faster, but I couldn’t go faster by 30 seconds, and not unbroken! There's nothing I can do about it now; it's all good.”

Khalipa was happy with second place.

“It was good, clean reps the whole time,” he said. “The judging was fair. I just took my time and didn’t rush anything. I wasn't trying to hit an event record on that one, just trying to stay consistent. That's it."

Looking ahead, Khalipa believes he will shine in Event 5. “I'm ready to rock and roll,” he said.

Event 4
1. Anthony Malta (10:01)
2. Jason Khalipa (10:22)
3. Marcus Filly (11:24)

Event 5

The fastest time on Event 5 came in the second heat. PJ Rubel, whose highest finish prior to this event was 26th place, finished the legless rope climbs and sprints in 3:34.

In the final heat, Fisher took an early lead, looking to make a move up the Leaderboard after a 19th-place finish on Event 3.

Dashing to move his lane marker after the second climb, Fisher was followed by Alderman, Blair Morrison and Filly. Morrison and Filly stayed close behind Fisher, who kept the lead until after the eighth climb, when Morrison overtook him. Morrison stayed in front to finish in 3:35, followed by Fisher who finished in 3:41, moving him into fifth overall.

“That time was actually about seven seconds faster than my fastest practice run,” Morrison said. “I wanted to go fast. I knew that was my advantage—the running. And so I really took advantage of it.”

Filly, who went into Event 5 in fourth, took eighth on this event, kept him in fourth place overall.

Morrison said he’s looking forward to the box jumps on Event 6. As for the rest of it, “I’m just going to try to survive the deadlifts and wall balls in tens,” he said.

Event 5
1. PJ Rubel (03:34)                                            
2. Blair Morrison (03:35)                                            
3. Garret Fisher (03:41)

Overall Standings
1. Neal Maddox (28)
2. Jason Khalipa (29)
3. Ben Alderman (33)
4. Marcus Filly (33)
5. Garret Fisher (37)
6. Wes Piatt (46)
7.  Johnny Medina III (50)
8. Gabe Subry (51)
9. Blair Morrison (61)
10. Anthony Malta (65)