July 28, 2013
Promising Talent at the Track
By Chris Cooper

“I just love the sport. It’s something that I never want to stop doing. I want to go to the Games.” ~Claire Petrus on CrossFit

The Teen Exhibition at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games showcased some promising talent on Saturday. The novice event took place at the Track, and the young athletes gave everything they had for the sport they love.

Keagan Barnes

At 13 years old, Keagan Barnes has the muscle of a man, the screaming support of teenage girls and a future in CrossFit.

His sixth-place finish on the first event — 50 burpees to a plate, 25 burpee pull-ups and max burpee muscle-ups — put him in the underdog position early, but he rallied on the second event, a Shuttle Run Grace.

“My hamstrings and calves were pretty much on fire the whole time,” Barnes says.

In the afternoon, Barnes demolished the wall ball/pull-up couplet in 2:53, a sprint nearly 30 seconds faster than second-fastest Duncan Martin.

The ripping effort secured Barnes the top spot in the Junior Varsity Division.

“I train with a higher line and a heavier ball,” Barnes says. “When I get into a competition, I can get a faster time that way.”

Nathan Andres

Tying for third, Nathan Andres’ fan support was second to none. Twenty supporters from CrossFit Live made the trek, wearing “Team Nate” shirts and homemade “N-A-T-E” placards. They chanted every time he touched a barbell, and screamed for every pull-up.

“My favorite event was the muscle-up one,” Andres says.

He won that event with 14 burpee muscle-ups.

Claire Petrus

CrossFit Dark Horse’s Claire Petrus enjoyed huge fan support at the Track. Her family and friends waved her picture on sticks, and chanted her name while she executed flawless pull-ups.

“I think my best event was the second one (Shuttle Run Grace) because I won, I didn’t stop, I wasn’t afraid to just give it everything, because I knew that would bring me up in the standings. I never put the bar down,” Petrus says.

“Heat was a bit of a factor, but my coach has been training me in the heat to get used to it.”

She’s been doing up to three workouts per day on weekends to prepare for the Teen Exhibition at the Games.

Petrus is also attending summer school for eight hours a day in addition to training.

“As soon as I got the email saying that I was invited, I went into full training mode,” the 13-year-old says.

Petrus won the Spirit of Hope award as top fundraiser for Hope for Kenya. Though still a young teen, Petrus speaks with a fluidity and discourse most adults would envy.

“I combined two great things — CrossFit and charity — to raise $1,081. As most people know, Africa is one of the poorest places in the world, but CrossFit’s been going over there and building schools and trying to help. We’re not just giving out handouts, but the tools to recreate their lives, and help them become stronger, better communities.”

What’s next for Petrus?

“Back to training. I have another competition next weekend. I just love the sport. It’s something that I never want to stop doing. I want to go to the Games.”

Megan Seegert

Delivering a strong, consistent presence among the young women was Megan Seegert. She took first in the Burpee Event, and second in the Shuttle Run Grace, even though she doesn’t like running. She finished first among Junior Varsity girls.

From Level 10 CrossFit, Seegert has been doing CrossFit workouts for only four months. Her background is in gymnastics. Showcasing her skills, all of her pull-ups were done with minimal kip.

“I might go back to gymnastics later,” Seegert says.

She’s competed in weightlifting events, as well, after being introduced to a barbell through CrossFit Kids.

“I just came back from Nationals, I got third,” she says. “I got 132 for clean and jerk and 114 for snatch.”

Seegert competed in the USAW 53kg class for 14- to 15-year-olds.

“I did CrossFit first and that got me really into lifting,” Seegert says.

That combination could take her far, and that’s Seegert’s plan. With a glance over her shoulder at the tennis stadium on the hill, she says, “I want to win it all.”