June 1, 2013
North Central Regional Report: Survival Day
By Nicole Scott Smith

"Today is survival day."

“Today is survival day,” Brandon Pastorek said of the Day 2 events.

The Marine Corp. Junior ROTC Golder College Prep Color Guard presented the flag to open the second day at the North Central Regional. Navy Pier was packed with fans, including 14-year-old Kate Foster.

“I’m here to promote CrossFit For Hope and to cheer on my team, CrossFit Rockford,” Foster said. "My goal is to raise as much money as I can so other kids don’t have to go through what I did."

Foster lost her leg to acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. Her second goal for the weekend is to meet with Elisabeth Akinwale.

“I sort of met her before, so I like her a lot,” Foster said.

For some returning athletes, Day 2 may conjure up a sense of déjà vu. The last time the venue hosted the Regional in 2011, Event 4 was a 100s workout. The grip-intensive, arduous test of fitness was a memorable one. 

One-hundred wall balls, pull-ups, pistols and dumbbell snatches were on the menu, but not everyone was able to stomach it all within the 25-minute time cap.


Akinwale was the only woman in North Central to finish the 400-rep behemoth — her time was 23:17, just 31 seconds off event record holder, Samantha Briggs.

Deborah Cordner Carson was first off the wall balls at just over four minutes in, with Akinwale and CrossFit Omaha’s Stacie Tovar close behind. All three women started out with a butterfly kip, but Tovar quickly switched to standard kipping.

“I have range-of-motion issues with my left shoulder," Tovar said. "I injured it during the Open and it is still nagging."

Cordner Carson was first off the pull-up bar, with Akinwale following 14 seconds later. In forming an attack plan for Event 4, Cordner Carson kept it simple: “One movement at a time.”

Jessica Schulz of CrossFit Rise stayed with the mighty duo throughout the pull-ups and pistols.

CrossFit Gambit’s 5-foot-2 Kelley Jackson did five sets of 10 on the pull-ups, but wished the prescription had been more.

“I wish it had been 200 chest-to-bar pull-ups,” Jackson said.

First off the pistols, Akinwale was 10 reps in when Cordner Carson started in on the the 50-lb. snatches.

Making ground on the pistols, Tovar joined Schulz in the first position for the snatches and passed her halfway though. By the time Tovar caught up with Cordner Carson to start her 80th rep, Akinwale was stepping on the finish mat.

“It went exactly according to plan, according to training,” Akinwale said. “I had practiced this workout once with a different plan, and we made some changes according to how that went. It’s always a little nerve wracking when you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen — you really just have to trust the plan you decided on.”

Akinwale’s coach, Rudy Nielsen agreed.

“In all of the two years I’ve been coaching Elisabeth, that was probably the best execution we’ve ever had in a workout,” Nielsen said. “Pretty much everything this weekend has gone to plan. She’s doing the job. Pretty much the first time it’s ever happened …”

Akinwale chimed in, “Do I get a doughnut for that?”

With 30 seconds left on the clock, Tovar and Cordner Carson ripped the snatches from the floor, knowing every rep completed would help seal the second-place spot. Cordner Carson finished just eight reps shy of finishing, earning her the spot as Tovar missed the 400-rep mark by 10 snatches.

Event 4
1. Elisabeth Akinwale (23:17)
2. Deborah Cordner Carson (25:08)
3. Stacie Tovar (25:11)


Only three of North Central’s men completed the chipper before the start of the final men’s heat. One of them was CrossFit Lincoln's Phillip Kniep.

“I feel like this is my style of workout,” Kniep said.

Kniep finished in 22:56.

CrossFit Omaha’s Kyle Kasperbauer took a commanding lead and had 10 butterfly pull-ups done before Jared Stevens of CrossFit 417 joined him on the pull-up rig. Soon, Sam Dancer joined. Q-Town CrossFit’s Dancer fell to singles, shaking out his arms between reps.

“I did my chest-to-bar pull-ups in singles by design,” Dancer said. “I wanted to conserve energy for the pistols.”

Kasperbauer left the pull-up rig followed by Justin Allen of CrossFit Bellator and CrossFit Chicago’s Alex Nettey. Nettey wasted no time, dropping into his first pistol with ease.

“My glutes, hamstrings and posterior chain are fried,” Nettey said.

Kasperbauer had several no-reps giving Nettey a chance to close the gap, but Kasperbauer once again had a lead of 10 reps once Nettey hit the dumbbells.

Duke Burk of CrossFit 402 hit the mat for the snatches and never looked back. Burk passed Allen, then caught up with Nettey and Kasperbauer. Kasperbauer muscle-snatched the dumbbell with ease, but Burk took the heat in 23:23, leaving Nettey, Kasperbauer and Allen to fight for the final spots. When Allen saw Kasperbauer advance, he made his move.

“If I am going to have a chance, I needed to go unbroken for the last 20,” Allen said. “I knew it was going to be won and lost in the snatches."

Event 4
1. Phillip Kniep (22:56)
2. Duke Burk (23:23)
3. Danny Burk (23:35)


Every athlete on the teams fought their way through a 120-rep version of the workout. Each of the six team members had to complete 30 reps of each movement. Formulating an effective plan was key, with the pressure mounting as the clock ticked away.

“This one is completely different than 2011,” CrossFit Springfield’s Kara Wallace-Racz said. “Back then, all the reps were shared. This one, you are fighting for your team individually.”

“You don’t have to pop out long sets like the last one. It’s a sprint for each of us,” teammate Macy Mitchell added.

CrossFit Springfield made a strong showing with Mitchell’s rhythmic pistols and Jeremy Mhire’s dumbbell snatches. But they were caught by Bobby Noyce and William Coder of CrossFit 515. Noyce and Coder never rested on the snatch, putting 515 ahead of the pack.

Silently from behind came QCCF-Live Uncommon's men who got through their men in 8:28.

QCCF changed theie lineup and strategy at the last minute.

“Just today, we decided we were going to put (Sinan Gocmen) first rather than myself and it ended up working out,” Josiah Lorentzen said. “In the gym, we had caught each other by just a few reps, but today we really didn’t catch each other. We went two minutes faster than we had ever practiced, so that was pretty cool."

QCCF’s Maddy Ruggeberg’s precision on the pistols gave her a 10-rep lead on the snatches, but CrossFit 515’s Jaime Noyce had a plan.

“I wanted to rest on the pistols and focus on the dumbbell snatches,” she said.

Noyce made up ground for her team and went rep for rep with Theresa Meisenbach of QCCF.

“I thought we were in last. I really did,” Meisenbach said. “I saw all those second people in the same line as me and I thought, ‘I gotta go!’”

Meisenbach’s tall frame was a long distance for the 50-lb. weight to travel, and despite her strength and Noyce’s no-rep on transitions, she couldn’t catch the lead. CrossFit 515 sent Noyce to the finishing mat at 16:01 to take the heat. QCCF-Live Uncommon easily took second with third place going to CrossFit Kilo.

Event 4
1. CrossFit 515 (16:01)
2. QCCF-Live Uncommon (16:20)
3. CrossFit Kilo (17:59)