May 12, 2014
North Central Update: Day 3
By Greg Okuhara
If Dave Castro and his team wanted Day 3 of the North Central Regionals to include drama, they got their wish.
If Dave Castro and his team wanted Day 3 of the North Central Regionals to include drama, they got their wish.

If Dave Castro and his team wanted Day 3 of the North Central Regionals to include drama, they got their wish.

If Dave Castro and his team wanted Day 3 of the North Central Regionals to include drama, they got their wish.

Both Leaderboards were too close to call for anyone to coast into a spot at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games. And another sold-out crowd at the Navy Pier in Chicago was treated to a thrilling finish.

On the women’s side, a newcomer with a gymnastics background edged out a Games veteran by one point to take the North Central Regional’s top spot. There was a three-peat as regionals champion among the men, followed closely by a fresh face from Kansas and a Windy City favorite.


Event 6

Headed into Day 3, Stacie Tovar knew she’d need a strong showing in order to improve her standing and move into a top-three position. She did her part after Event 6—a ruthless chipper that included a 50-calorie row, 50 box jump overs, 50 120-lb. deadlifts, 50 14-lb. wall-ball shots, 50 ring dips, and then back through.

Going into the final heat, none of the other women made it back to the second 50-calorie row. Tovar managed to crank seven calories before the 21-minute time cap. Her time of 21:43 was nine seconds better than second-place finisher Becca Clarin of O’Hare CrossFit in Chicago, who put up her score in Heat 2. Akinwale finished third in 22:10.

After time was called, Tovar smiled, waved to the crowd and took a bow as the crowd erupted in cheers. She later said hearing the encouragement from the fans helped her power through and pull away.

“The fans are my everything,” she said. “I felt like such an upset yesterday and the fans are making me feel like what I am supposed to feel like. This is an unfortunate situation I’m in but it doesn’t define me. I know I am one of the Fittest on Earth.”

Alexandra LaChance, a former gymnast for the University of Arkansas, who entered the day with a 10-point lead over Akinwale of CrossFit Construct in Chicago, finished in a tie for 13th. Akinwale placed third, meaning she and LaChance were tied going into the final event.

Event 6 Results
1. Stacie Tovar (21:43)
2. Becca Clarin (21:54)
3. Elisabeth Akinwale (22:10)

Event 7

With Akinwale and LaChance tied at 29 points, Akinwale sat in the top spot after the tiebreaker. The final event featured 64 pull-ups and eight 135-lb. overhead squats, and would provide an exciting finish.

In the final heat, Kelley Jackson was the only competitor who managed to finish her pull-ups in only two sets. Akinwale, LaChance and Tovar weren’t far behind when the four started their overhead squats. The crowd gasped as Tovar, who needed a fast time to move up more spots, lost control of her bar and stumbled forward several paces before dropping the bar.

That allowed Jackson to finish her set and step on the finish mat first with a time of 2:18. LaChance and Akinwale finished in 2:26 and 2:37, respectively

Precious seconds ticked off the clock as Tovar had to push her bar back to her spot on the mat before she could finish her overhead squats. Her time was 2:54, good for fifth place but not good enough to move her up the Leaderboard.

Jackson’s first-place finish pushed her into third place, and she qualified for the Games for the first time after finishing just outside the top three spots the previous two years.

LaChance and Akinwale started their set overheard squats around the same time, but it was LaChance who finished 11 seconds quicker to take second place and edge out Akinwale as North Central Regional champion.

“I had zero expectations for the weekend,” said LaChance, who is Jackson’s roommate and training partner. “I really wasn’t concerned with the Leaderboard. It was just about getting through the workouts. The first workout today was just hardcore, very difficult for me. I just wanted to get through that and not suck too bad. I’m pumped. It doesn’t feel real yet. I just wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Jackson learned she finished in third place after she walked off the competition floor. Once it was announced, her cheering section screamed loudly for her. Jackson gave her mother a hug and wiped tears from her eyes as she joined LaChance and Akinwale as the top three.

“(I feel) a lot of relief,” Jackson said. “It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. And my partner-in-crime qualified so we get to go together. It’s a long time coming. Our region is stacked with women. It was full of ups and downs all weekend. I knew today was going to be my day.”

Akinwale shared a special moment with her son after the results were released. She walked over to where he stood and whispered in his ear, followed by a kiss on his head before walking off the floor to applause.

Event 7 Results
1. Kelley Jackson (2:18)
2. Alexandra LaChance (2:26)
3. Elisabeth Akinwale (2:37)

Games Qualifiers
1. Alexandra LaChance (31)
2. Elisabeth Akinwale (32)
3. Kelley Jackson (46)


Event 6

Before Event 6, there was talk among the men that most who had practiced the chipper—the 50s—weren’t able to make it back to second row.

In Heat 1, Kyle Flickinger of CrossFit Kilo in Cedar Falls, Iowa, pulled away in the second round of deadlifts. He was able to maintain a steady pace while other athletes began to fade. The crowd realized they were watching a rare performance and reached a crescendo as Flickinger sat down for his second row at 18:40, and he cranked out all 50 calories three seconds before the 21-minute time cap.

Not to be outdone, Bobby Noyce of CrossFit 515 in Grimes, Iowa bettered Flickinger’s time by two seconds (20:55) in Heat 2, drawing equally loud cheers from the appreciative crowd.

In the final heat, Kasperbauer and Heppner slightly pulled away from the others, even choosing to face each other on the second round of box jumps so they could monitor where the other was.

By the time they made it back to the second row around the 19-minute mark, they were still even. Heppner closed his eyes with each excruciating pull on the rower, and Kasperbauer occasionally glanced over at Heppner’s screen to check on his progress. Kasperbauer finished third (21:07) and Heppner in fourth (21:14).

Event 6 Results
1. Bobby Noyce (20:55)
2. Kyle Flickinger (20:57)
3. Kyle Kasperbauer (21:07)

Event 7

Going into the final event of the weekend, Kasperbauer held a one-point lead over Heppner. The event—64 pullups and eight 205-lb. overhead squats—would provide a literal sprint to the finish.

Heppner only needed two sets to finish his pull-ups while Kasperbauer broke his into four, but the two men started their overhead squats around at the same time.

The crowd was whipped into a frenzy as Kasperbauer went unbroken on his overhead squats while Heppner dropped his bar with four squats left. This allowed Nettey to pass him.

Kasperbauer took first in the event with a time of 2:00, and Nettey placed third with a time of 2:11. Heppner’s time of 2:24 put him in eighth. Shane McBride of CrossFit 557 in Collinsville, Illinois finished in 2:06 in Heat 2 to take second.

When the final event wrapped up, Kasperbauer pulled away to take the men’s North Central Regional with 36 points, eight points ahead of Heppner. Nettey continued his string of strong showings in all the weekend’s events, and took third overall with 47 points.

Kasperbauer said even though his plan is to train hard and get ready for the Games, he’ll be sure to take some time to relax and enjoy his win.

“It’s important to celebrate,” he said. “We will definitely go out and get some Chicago-style pizza.”

Heppner also said he’ll be sure to enjoy his first trip to the Games. He and his fiancée will be married the week before the Games, and they don’t mind the fact the honeymoon will involve a trip to California.

Event 7 Results
1. Kyle Kasperbauer (2:00)
2. Shane McBride (2:06)
3. Alex Nettey (2:11)

Games Qualifiers
1. Kyle Kasperbauer (36)
2. Jacob Heppner (44)
3. Alex Nettey (47)

Team Recap

Timberwolf CrossFit of St. Paul, Minnesota will be the first Minnesota team to compete at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games finishing in first place. CrossFit Kilo of Cedar Falls, Iowa and CrossFit Green Bay of Wisconsin finished second and third, respectively, earning a trip to Carson, California.

View the North Central Regional in Photos