June 1, 2013
North Central Regional Report: Double Trouble
By Nicole Scott Smith and Mary Brown

"After overhead squats there's some shoulder fatigue, so I had to rely on that big kip," Christina Merlo said.


After taking on Jackie, competitors faced two back-to-back events.

First, the individual competitors would try to reach their three-rep max overhead squat (Event 2). After a two-minute break, they would move on to 30 burpee muscle-ups for time (Event 3).

Given only seven minutes to complete each event, the competitors had to race the clock.

Sam Dancer sped through the overhead squats, and early on appeared to be on track to break 300. To make it there, he would need to complete five sets and start his sixth within the seven-minute time cap (255, 265, 275, 285, 295, 305, 315). Dancer, however, failed on his third 295-lb. overhead squat to finish with a winning score of 295.20. Brandon Pastorek came in a close second with one overhead squat at 295.

Still high off of her Event Record performance on Jackie, Elisabeth Akinwale sealed her second consecutive win with two 195-lb. overhead squats (195.20). Like Pastorek, Stacie Tovar came one rep away from tying for the top score (195.10) and took second.

Next, only two women, Deb Cordner Carson and Christina Merlo, and 20 men would finish all 30 burpee muscle-ups within the time cap.

On the team side, CrossFit St. Paul and QCCF Live Uncommon tied for first on Event 2 with a 1250-lb. total. CrossFit Omaha returned to it’s traditional place at the top on Event 3 with 113 reps. Their performance beat the Event Record from Regional Weekends 1 and 2 (112 reps, Team CDR Redlands of Southern California). However, their new record wouldn’t last long. An hour later, Hack’s Pack UTE set a new record at the South West Regional in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Let’s take a closer look.


The athletes have to decide one of four opening weights. With such a limited time period and set five-pound weight increases, the opening weight determines how far an athlete may progress. However, choosing to go heavy from the start can lead to potential failure. Fail to complete three reps at your chosen opening weight and you’re out.
Like Sam Briggs, Cordner Carson decided to risk it and go big. She opened with the heaviest women’s opening weight of 175 lb.
Her coach, Tyler Quinn, described the risk as “tremendous.”
After all, overhead squats aren’t Cordner Carson’s best movement. In 2011, she was challenged by the 65-lb. overhead squats in the 100s workout. 
“It was 65 lb. and it was so hard for me,” she recalls.
Fortunately, Cordner Carson was able to get 175 lb. by three, and even advance to get two reps at 185 within the time cap. 
“I knew 175 lb. wouldn’t win it, but I’m pretty pleased,” she said after the event.
While 175 was heavy for Cordner Carson, it looked light for Tovar and Akinwale. Both power cleaned the opening weight, and jerked it overhead. There was no obvious sign of struggle from either competitor until Tovar reached 190 lb. She struggled to reach depth, and got the dreaded no-rep. 
Both Tovar and Cordner Carson loaded the barbell to 195 lb. and power cleaned the weight to the cheers from the crowds. Tovar got one squat, failed to get depth on her second, and then lost control of the barbell. Akinwale repped out two 195-lb. overhead squats and then stumbled as she lost control on her third attempt.
After a two-minute break, the women moved on to the burpee muscle-ups.
The burpee between each muscle-up adds a kink to the standard 30-muscle-ups for time. And so does the ring height.
Competitors who can blaze through 30 muscle-ups for time faced the new challenge of resetting each time, and the smaller competitors had to jump and catch the swaying rings.
The added challenge was on full display when 4-foot-11 Megan John stepped below the rings. Set to 82-inches, the rings were a significant jump out of her reach. Like Annie Sakamoto at the NorCal Regional last weekend, John had to make up for her small stature by jumping high to catch the rings each time. She managed 15 reps within the time cap.
Fatigue from Event 2 was another factor. 
“After overhead squats there’s some shoulder fatigue, so I had to rely on that big kip. I knew I couldn’t hang out in the dip,“ Christina Merlo said.
Despite her fatigue, Merlo was the first woman to finish all 30 reps within the time cap with a time of 6:43.  
“I knew I had ground to make up,“ Merlo says.
Merlo trained with ankle weights, vests and different time variables to prep for the workout.
Later, two-time CrossFit Games competitor Deborah Cordner Carson would finish all 30 reps far ahead of the pack in 6:12. 
Merlo and Carson were the only women to finish all 30. Akinwale ended her winning streak on Event 3, but still managed to pick up a couple more ones. With 22 burpee muscle-ups within the time cap, she fell to 11th. Tovar fell four reps shy to tie for fourth. 
Event 2
1. Elisabeth Akinwale (195.20)
2. Stacie Tovar (195.10)
3T. Deborah Cordner Carson and Ginny King (185.20)
Event 3
1. Deborah Cordner Carson (6:12)
2. Christina Merlo (6:43)
3. Paige Millspaugh (7:02)
Dancer came to be known for his heavy lifting videos on YouTube. Event 2, as many predicted, was his chance to show off his strength.
Starting at 255, he quickly moved through the weights. He loaded the barbell with 295 lb. and hang power cleaned the weight to his shoulders and, without adjusting his hands, jerked it with a narrow grip. He got two reps, but failed on his third. 
“Truth is I’m just a really strong guy who has a lot to learn. I like the narrow grip and have done 315 lb. for five, but my ankle won’t allow that this weekend,” he says.
Pastorek fell just one rep shy of Dancer, finishing one rep at 295 lb. Although it wasn’t good enough for the win, it tremendously affected his standings, boosting him into the overall lead at the end of Day 1. 
When the men moved on to the burpee muscle-ups, many of the spectators focused on the former Games competitors when they actually needed to be watching for a hungry unknown athlete making his move.
As the fans watched Kyle Kasperbauer in Heat 3, Jared Stevens sped through the reps, dropped from the rings, and ran to the finish mat in just 5:33. 
Stevens gave the men in the final heat a time to beat, but no one could catch him. Alex Nettey won the final heat with a time of 5:59, and Stevens took the Event 3 win.
“I practiced it one minute faster but then got ahead on the overhead squats, so I guess that comes with the territory,” Nettey says.
Nettey had hoped for 275, but managed 285.20 within the cap.
Event 2
1. Sam Dancer (295.20)
2. Brandon Pastorek (295.10)
3T. Luke Ahlfield (285.30)
3T. Duke Burk (285.30)
Event 3
1. Jared Stevens (5:28)
2. Jacob Moore (5:33)
3. Drake Comfort (5:50)
The teams faced burpee muscle-ups and overhead squats, but with a twist. The men started on the rings while the women started at the barbell. The weight could only go up, and once a teammate failed to get three reps at a weight that teammate could not advance to the next weight. Fighting for the largest total but faced with a seven-minute time cap, teammates had to get it or get left behind. On the rings, each teammate had to complete three muscle-ups before switching to the next teammate. 
In Event 2, QCCF lifted an impressive combined total of 1250 lb. It was enough for first place, but not exclusively – they tied with CrossFit St. Paul.
Like a proud poppa, CrossFit St. Paul coach Tyler Quinn recounts the efforts that lead to their buzzer-beater victory.
“We have some strong athletes on our team. Like physically strong, good lifters. I don’t know if anybody expected us to watch Addison, who is the smallest male on our team, to hit a triple at 275 with three seconds left on the clock. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.” Quinn says.
Two-hundred and seventy-five lb.was a 20-lb. PR for Addison. A week ago, the best he could manage was 255. 
“Talk about feeding off the crowd and just rolling with it. It was really fun to watch,” Quinn says. 
On the burpee muscle-ups, CrossFit Omaha surged into the lead with an Event Record score of 113 reps, beating the previous record of 112 reps set by Team CDR Redlands of Southern California. 
"It would have been harder to do the muscle-ups first. Overhead squats just kept the rotator cuffs nice and warm and made the muscle-ups feel good," said CrossFit Omaha's Addi Kahrs.
QCCF was the most consistent across Events 2 and 3, winning E2 and taking second on E3 with a score of 109 reps. With a fourth-place finish on Team Jackie, they’re the most consistent team in North Central and hold the lead after Day 1 with seven points. 
CrossFit Kilo racked up 1220 lb. on Event 2 for third and 104 burpee muscle-ups on Event 3 for fourth. With a Team Jackie win, they have just eight points and hold onto second overall. Kilo has qualified for the Games in years past, and while they’re an old name in North Central they have two new competitors in 2013. Even with rookies, they’re off to a solid start. Kate Roeber added to the team’s total with a 170-lb. overhead squat. 
Event 2
1T. CrossFit St. Paul (1250)
1T. QCCF-Live Uncommon (1250)
3. CrossFit Kilo (1220)
Event 3
1. CrossFit Omaha (113)
2. QCCF- Live Uncommon (109)
3. CrossFit 505 (106)
Overall Standings
Overall, the men’s standings are Brandon Pastorek in first (14 points), Justin Allen in second (19 points) and Jared Stevens in third (20 points). Kyle Kasperbauer and Alex Nettey are just five and six points, respectively, outside of the top three. 
For the women, Deborah Cordner Carson is in first (six points), Stacie Tovar is in second (nine points) and Elisabeth Akinwale is in third (13 points). Ginny King sits just one point outside of third (14 points, 4th overall).
The team standings find QCCF - Live Uncommon in first (seven points), CrossFit Kilo in second (eight points) and CrossFit 515 in third (12 points). CrossFit St. Paul is staying close to the top three with 15 points.