May 11, 2014
North Central Team Report: Day 3
By James Toland
The fittest teams from the North Central Region are headed to the Games. 
The fittest teams from the North Central Region are headed to the Games. 

The team competition has come to a close in the North Central Region and the fittest are headed to the Games!

There’s a good reason Kaylen Gesaman of CrossFit Kilo missed her college graduation ceremony.

Though the 21-year-old couldn’t walk across the stage to receive her bachelor’s in exercise science on Saturday, she earned a place in the spotlight with her teammates Sunday at the North Central Regional after qualifying for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

“I have no regrets about missing it,” she said. “This is very exciting.”

CrossFit Kilo of Cedar Falls, Iowa entered the third and final day clinging to a two-point lead over CrossFit Green Bay of Green Bay, Wisconsin. A three-way tie for third between CrossFit T-Town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Team CrossFit North Peoria of Peoria, Illinois and Timberwolf CrossFit of St. Paul, Minnesota made for an intense race to the finish.

Team Event 7

Men and women worked in tandem with a row and double-under couplet followed by a rotating partner deadlift and alternating toes-to-bars. In order to win, teams had to strategize to execute each of these movements with efficiency.

Even though three spots to the Games were on the line, Chris Pace from Team Koda CrossFit of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma lightened his mood by wearing a backwards Cookie Monster blue hat.

He said he bought it as a joke because his coach always teases him about eating a lot of cookies.

“I thought it was the perfect way to embrace my personality,” Pace said. “Now I always wear it on the last day of a competition.”

CrossFit 8035 from Des Moines, Iowa finished first in Heat 1 with a time of 16:16.

“We came in here knowing we’d do well on that (event),” said Joshua Alex of CrossFit 8035. “This weekend may not have gone as planned for us, but we came to compete. We wanted to leave on a high note and show one of our strengths to let people know we’re serious.”

The final heat of the morning featured the top three teams lined up in the middle three lanes trying to hold on to their spots and earn a place on the podium. As expected, it came down to a race between each team’s fourth and final pairs. Timberwolf CrossFit showed early that they were determined to qualify for the Games and dominated from start to finish winning the event overall with a time of 16:08.

The win pushed Timberwolf out of the three-way tie for third and into second with only one event standing in the way of the team’s first trip to the Games.

“For our first two pairs that went, the whole workout was double-unders and rowing and after that they could take a break,” said Tony Koens of Timberwolf CrossFit. “The only pair that had to push themselves the whole way through was the final two.”

It was the an exciting moment for the newcomers.

“I was screaming, fist-pumping, and jumping up and down,” Megan MacClellan said. “I was hoping the camera was not on me.”

Team Event 7 Results
1. Timberwolf CrossFit (16:08)
2. CrossFit 8035 (16:16)
3. On Track (16:19)

Team Event 8

CrossFit Kilo remained the team to beat as the final event of 49 pull-ups and seven overhead squats got underway. Timberwolf CrossFit broke free from the pack using its Event 7 first-place finish to put them just three points behind Kilo.

It was evident right away what the difference maker was going to be for this event as athletes quickly completed the pull-up portion and struggled to maintain balance and depth during the overhead squats.

It was a close race in Heat 2 between CrossFit OKC of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and CrossFit On Track of Olathe, Kansas as their final female athlete sprinted off the pull-up bar toward the overhead squat mat. In the end, Kristin Rosenau of CrossFit OKC was more consistent,  finishing her seventh and final rep and leaping into her husband’s arms for the win.

“We were killing the workout, kind one of those final ‘we did it’ moments,” Rosenau said.

In both the final team heat of the event and the regional, athletes jumped onto the pull-up bars and powered through the sets of overhead squats showing the loud crowd at Navy Pier why they were fighting to be the fittest athletes from the North Central Region. Team CrossFit North Peoria was the early leader, but stalled out halfway through the event while their females struggled and eventually were unable to complete the overhead squats.

CrossFit North Peoria might have fallen off the pace, but 540 Beefy of CrossFit 540 in Springdale, Arkansas jumped into the lead around the six-minute mark and never looked back, winning the final event with a time of 12:28.

It was a disappointing weekend for 540 Beefy but they were happy to compete with the top teams in the final heat and finish fifth overall.

“We have a young team,” Easton Evans said. “I’m 21, Brooke (Wells) is 18, Jake (Curreri) is only 20. So we’re relatively lacking in (regional) experience so this was a good opportunity to show what we had.”

Wells wasn’t pleased with the team’s performance on Day 1, but enjoyed the experience.

“The first day went awfully,” Wells said. “That was a rough start, but that gave us the right mindset to try and get back up there.”

Team Event 8 Results
1. 540 Beefy (12:28)
2. CrossFit 417 (13:40)
3. Timberwolf CrossFit (13:52)

Overall Standings

With a third-place result in Event 8, Timberwolf CrossFit ended up the overall winner with 44 points followed by CrossFit Kilo with 48 and CrossFit Green Bay grabbed the last ticket to the Games with 51 points.

This will be the third consecutive trip to the Games for CrossFit Kilo and first trip for both Timberwolf CrossFit and CrossFit Green Bay.

Timberwolf team members tried to soak in the win and put into words what it means to this group of first-time Games qualifiers.

“We knew (Event 8) was going to be a strong suit,” Jacob Spehar said. “We knew it would be in our wheelhouse.  All the other (events) were gymnastics style. We had a really good game plan that we stuck to and we crushed it.”

Koens said the team had some communication issues on Saturday, but he said he was grateful the team was able to climb back into the top three.

“We’re a new team,” he said. “We have some people who are competing in their first CrossFit competition here, but we have a solid team.”

Spehar added: “It’s so awesome! We are the first Minnesota team to ever make it to the Games.”

Games Qualifying Teams
1. Timberwolf CrossFit (44)
2. CrossFit Kilo (48)
3. CrossFit Green Bay (51)