July 10, 2012
North West Masters
By Dan Hollingsworth

The Masters have stepped up the competition in the North West.


Each year, the competition at the CrossFit Games seems to step up to a new level. Returning Masters competitor, Janice Spray believes the same is true of the Masters. “I know the competition is tougher this year than last year,” Spray says.

Despite the rising playing field, the North West Region qualified 11 Masters athletes to the Games. Ten of them will compete in Carson, Calif. Many of these athletes posted scores in the Open that would have kept them in the game with their younger, individual competitors.

There are just a few days remaining until the start of the final competition to determine who will be Fittest on Earth. Here’s a look at the Masters field from the North West.

Holly Arrow

Holly Arrow, 56, has come a long way in just more than 18 months. An associate professor at the University of Oregon, Arrow proves rapid progress is possible regardless of your age. She has quickly gone from being unable to perform a pull-up to recently placing second at the Oregon LWC State Weightlifting Championship. She has focused on strength and lifting technique since the Open.

In addition to training alongside fellow Eugene CrossFit athlete and 2011 Games competitor Cheryl Brost, Arrow trains with the nearby powerhouse team, CrossFit Intensify. Arrow’s preparation for the Games has also included gymnastics skills training and several days of multiple workouts each week.

Joy Bruening

At 6’2”, former collegiate basketball player, Joy Bruening hopes to tower over her competition not only in stature, but in the standings as well. Bruening finished the Open in 10th place in the Women’s 50-54 age group. She managed top 10 performances in four out of the five workouts.

Bruening has been training at Beaverton CrossFit for two years and has been putting in double days up to two times per week.

Laurie Carver

Laurie Carver is no stranger to Carson,Calif. Carver, the 2010 CrossFit Games Masters Champion will be competing for the third time at the Games. Also in the Women’s 50-54 category, Carver dominated her field on Open Workout 3, winning the event by 41 reps. She is hoping to kick this year’s competition off with a stronger performance to increase her likelihood of getting back on the podium and bringing home some more CrossFit Games hardware.

Susan Habbe

Rounding out the North West in the Women’s 50-54 age group is the 2011 Champion from the 45-59 age group. Susan Habbe of Missoula, Mont., finished this year’s Open in fourth place. Habbe overcame a 13th place finish on the first workout and then put up a third place performance on Workout 2, as well as a first place finish on Workout 4.

Cheryl Pellegrini

Cheryl Pellegrini is somewhat atypical in her approach to getting to the CrossFit Games. While most are hitting workouts up to six times per week to include some double days, Pellegrini only trains three times per week. On other days, Pellegrini enjoys swimming, running, Pilates and biking.  

While Pellegrini does not have an athletic pedigree, she delivered a very consistent performance throughout the Open and secured her position by putting up the seventh best score in the world in her age group on Workout 5.

Janice Spray

Despite placing fourth in her age division at last year’s Games, Janice Spray says she has no expectations for this year. Spray put up the best score in the region on 12.1 with a score of 132 reps.

Spray’s performance in the Open not only qualified her to compete in the 45-49 age division at the Games, she was also invited to compete in the individual competition at Regionals. She passed up the opportunity so she could compete with her affiliate team, CrossFit Bellevue.

Spray has been focusing on strength and snatch technique since the Open. She admits she prefers the long workouts and short, heavy met-cons are her weakness. “Us old people, we can go on forever,” she says.

Mike Ford

Affiliate owner, Mike Ford is no stranger to punishing workouts. This long time martial artist earned his black belt and then moved on to extreme endurance events. This former CrossFit Games judge is eager to showcase his talents on the other side of the scorecard. Under the tutelage of C.J. Martin, Ford has been dialing in his programming to prepare for the tough competition he will face in the 45-49 age bracket.

Tony Kubitschek

If you want to know how Tony Kutischek is prepping for the Games you can follow his training on his personal blog www.tonykoob.com. Kubitschek has been posting his path to the Games since April of this year, and even includes a rather in depth discussion on the laundry list of injuries he has accumulated over the years.

While being a box owner presents some challenges to his training schedule, Kubitschek was able to overcome a disappointing 74th place performance in the 50-54 year-old category on Workout 1 to finish in 15th place overall. Tony is very excited for his first chance to compete in the CrossFit Games.

Joey Lochner

For Joey Lochner, CrossFit is truly a family affair. Lochner’s passion for CrossFit has spilled over to his entire family and he works out with all six of his children and his wife. At age 50, Lochner, a former collegiate track athlete boasts an impressive 400m sprint time of 1:10. He put up top 20 scores in three of the five Open workouts to secure a 10th place position coming into the final stage of competition.

Rick Sinclair

Living on an island in the middle of the Puget Sound in Washington State doesn’t provide firefighter, Rick Sinclair the opportunity to train at an affiliate. He therefore makes the most of his time at the station hitting workouts after midnight at times, and uses the rising competition in the Men’s 55-59 age division to motivate him in his garage.

Sinclair has overcome several recent injuries that may have left most out of the gym, let alone the competition. Despite some lingering nerve damage and a bad shoulder, Sinclair is hoping to improve upon his fifth place finish at last year’s Games and earn a podium spot in 2012.

“Competition and an event like the Games is really special but the benefits of CrossFit for me are the real life improvements in overall strength, flexibility and conditioning that transfer to my job as a firefighter and a father of a little one,” Sinclair says.

With the workouts for the Games now revealed, the Masters athletes of the North West have just a few days to ponder whether they have done enough. The North West Region has previously shown itself to be very competitive. The aforementioned athletes along with their throngs of supporters hope history will repeat itself.