June 2, 2014
NorCal Update: Day 3
By Hilary Achauer, with Matt Nichols, Laura Lee Cole and Whitney Wyatt
Jason Khalipa will join Chris Spealler and Becca Voigt as the only athletes making their seventh appearances at the Games.
Jason Khalipa will join Chris Spealler and Becca Voigt as the only athletes making their seventh appearances at the Games.


Jason Khalipa will join Chris Spealler and Becca Voigt as the only athletes making their seventh appearances at the Games.

After trying for three years, Chyna Cho is returning to the Games. She placed second overall, and will return to the Games for the first time since 2010.

The secret to her success may be her new training partner: Neal Maddox, who also finished second.

“As of February I started training with Neal Maddox,” Cho said. “Obviously, he is incredible, one of the hardest working people I know, and he's really rubbed off on me. I think that's the biggest difference.”

The first-place spots went to same two athletes who took first in 2013: Alessandra Pichelli and Jason Khalipa. Margaux Alvarez took third place again this year, and Marcus Filly worked his way up into third place overall, after finishing Day 2 in fourth place.

Khalipa will join Chris Spealler and Becca Voigt as the only athletes making their seventh appearances at the Games.

“It’s an honor,” Khalipa said about qualifying for the Games for the seventh time, “and I don’t take it for granted. I think it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m just proud to be going again.”


Event 6

Jason Khalipa can handle himself on a rower.

He won Row 1 and 2 at the 2013 Games, and on the last day of the 2013 NorCal Regional Khalipa won Event 6, an up-and-down ladder that begins and ends with a 50-calorie row.

Khalipa finished his opening 50-calorie row in 1:54, followed by Garret Fisher and Neal Maddox. However, it was Spenser Scott who finished his 50 box jumps first, jumping sideways without turning and getting to the first 50 deadlifts well before the rest of the competitors. Then Khalipa closed the gap on the deadlifts, and made it to the wall-ball shots first, holding his lead as he started on the ring dips.

Wes Piatt was the next man to the ring dips. Piatt went into Event 6 in sixth place—he needed a good finish to move up the Leaderboard.

The ring dips marked the turn-around point in the event. Khalipa worked through them in sets of three and four, while Scott sped up his pace, getting to the second set of 50 wall-ball shots first.

Piatt took on big sets of wall-ball shots and passed Scott, getting to the deadlifts first, followed by Khalipa. Piatt and Khalipa finished their deadlifts at the same time, starting on their last 50 box jumps at the same time. Both Khalipa and Piatt stumbled on the box, but Khalipa was the first to the rower, with Piatt right behind.

Piatt’s supporters in blue shirts urged him onto the rower in the final minute of the event with loud cheers and a sea of blue foam fingers. No athlete finished the event, but Khalipa accumulated the most calories for a score of 21:05, his first win of the weekend. The finish put him in first overall.

“It’s gnarly this year,” Khalipa said after the event. “Every year it’s gnarly. The competition this year is obviously tighter than last year. Every event means something—you can’t take one off.”

Piatt finished in third place—the second-place finish went to Corey Matson, competing in the second heat—which moved him from sixth place into fourth place overall, seven points behind third place Neal Maddox.

Before the event, Piatt told himself, “Don’t stop. That's it. I just put my head down and moved forward without looking at anyone else around me. I'm in good spirits, and that's all that really matters.”

Event 6 Results
1. Jason Khalipa (21:05) 
2. Corey Matson (21:11)   
3. Wes Piatt (21:13)

Event 7

Before the event Neal Maddox said he’d break an event record in Event 7—his practice times were all faster than the previous records. Then, a few hours before the men of NorCal finished their regional, Tommy Hackenbruck set a new event record with a time of 1:31.

Maddox did not set a record, but he won the event in NorCal with a time of 1:45.

In this event, a couplet of 64 pull-ups and 8 overhead squats, the first person off the pull-up bar was not always the first to finish the event. Standing between every athlete and the end of the competition were eight heavy overhead squats.

Anthony Malta was the first man to finish his pull-ups, followed closely by Maddox and Marcus Filly. Then Malta failed his first overhead squat, while Maddox power snatched the bar and completed eight unbroken reps, finishing first. He needed to win to qualify for the Games.

“I knew that first place was locked up by Jason (Khalipa), and I wanted to be second on the podium, at least, so I just went out there 'pedal-to-the-metal' and gave it everything I could,” Maddox said.

Maddox said he’s looking forward to his fifth year at the Games.

“I'm just grateful that I'm still able to compete with these guys,” he said. “I'm excited about this sport. I'm excited for its future. I'm just going to enjoy it as long as I can.”

Nick Pappas, competing in an earlier heat, took second with a time of 1:51. Marcus Filly took third, which secured his third-place spot overall.

“It was exactly what I needed, nothing more, nothing less,” Filly said. “I’m going to the Games with a different mentality this year, an ‘I belong there’ mentality, not a newbie mentality. Now I’m gonna go have a big pizza, but it’s gonna be gluten free.”

Event 7 Results
1. Neal Maddox (01:45)
2. Nick Pappas (01:51)
3. Marcus Filly (01:56)

CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Jason Khalipa (35)
2. Neal Maddox (44)
3. Marcus Filly (44)


Event 6

Alessandra Pichelli got her first win of the weekend on Event 6. Her score of 22:08 moved her into second place overall.

Pichelli started off strong, working through the row and the 50 box jumps, to get to the deadlifts first. Hot on her heels was Margaux Alvarez, who was the first woman to the first set of 50 wall-ball shots. Although Pichelli took long breaks between wall ball sets, she was the first to finish her wall-ball shots and start on the ring dips.

The 50 ring dips shook up the field, with Chyna Cho and Jenny LaBaw getting to their second set of wall-ball shots first. Cho was the first to the deadlifts, followed by LaBaw.

Pichelli, realizing she had lost her lead, dug in and sped up her deadlifts. She moved back into first place.

As the women advanced their barbells to the marker for the final set of 10 deadlifts, the announcer told the crowd Alvarez was closing on Pichelli.

Pichelli heard this and turned to check Alvarez’s lane. “I did not want her to catch me. I was not going to let it happen,” Pichelli said after the event. She held her lead and won the event.

Cho took second, in a three-way tie with Alvarez and Kirsten Pedri, who competed in an earlier heat.

“Going in, I really wanted to redeem myself for yesterday,” an emotional Pichelli said after the event. “I felt that yesterday I didn’t perform up to my standards. So I went in to today telling myself that I wanted this,” she said.

"I didn’t want all the training and work I’ve put in to go to waste,” Pichelli said. “So if I’m going to do it, I am going to do it 100 percent.”

Event 6 Results
1. Alessandra Pichelli (22:08)
2T. Margaux Alvarez (22:11)
2T. Chyna Cho (22:11)
2T. Kirsten Pedri (22:11)

Event 7

In Event 7, Alessandra Pichelli took home her second win of the day, and secured her top spot at the NorCal Regional.

This couplet of pull-ups and overhead squats was quick, allowing no room for error. Pichelli and Annie Sakamoto were the first two athletes off the pull-up bar, finishing their 64 pull-ups in about 1:30.

Pichelli and Sakamoto put their bars overhead at about the same time, but Sakamoto failed on her first overhead squat, while Pichelli held onto the bar. Although Pichelli wavered slightly at the top her reps, she completed the eight reps unbroken, winning with a time of 2:29.

Sakamoto continued to struggle with her overhead squats, allowing Chyna Cho—who completed all of her overhead squats unbroken—to finish in second. Cho took the second spot overall.

Cho burst into tears as she stepped on the finish mat, overcome by the emotion of achieving her goal after three years of trying.

“I did it for my dad,” Cho said after the event. “He's wanted me to go (to the Games) for the past three years more than I've wanted to go. I finally did it for myself and for him.”

Jenny LaBaw took third on the event, and Margaux Alvarez came in fourth, securing her third-place finish overall.

“I’m happy, I did the best I could,” Alvarez said. “I stuck to the plan on the pull-ups, 20,10,10,5,5,5,5,4. Clean and Jerk the bar overhead, then all squats unbroken. It worked out well and I’m happy with it. Tomorrow’s a rest day, then back in the gym.”

Event 7 Results
1. Alessandra Pichelli (02:29)
2. Chyna Cho (02:41)
3. Jenny LaBaw (02:46)

CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Alessandra Pichelli (32)
2. Chyna Cho (32)
3. Margaux Alvarez (40)