May 19, 2012
Regional Report: Heavy Cleans Challenge NorCal
By Leah Lutz, John Bourgeois and Stacy Brown

The heavy cleans would prove to be the deciding movement for most in Event 2.

After a morning with the fast-paced workout Diane, the field of competitors, team and individual, prepared for the longer, mentally challenging Workout 2 consisting of a row, pistols, and heavy hang cleans. While the handstand push-ups separated the pack in Event 1, the heavy cleans would prove to be the deciding movement for most in Event 2.


There is nowhere to hide as each member must complete all three movements, and this event covers endurance, skill, and strength. Teams employed different strategies for this, some opting to have stronger athletes go first so as not to slow up later athletes, while other teams kept stronger members for the end. 

In Heat 1, CrossFit Avalanche, the Rocklin CrossFit Grasshoppers, and Team CFP all jumped out early by having the first person finish the heavy hang power cleans. Northstate CrossFit jumped ahead when they were the first to have two members across the finish line, followed by CFP, Avalanche and the Diablo CrossFit Reposado team. However, CrossFit East Sacramento came on strong with their third and fourth members, and took over the lead with the last person on the cleans, and won the heat easily in 18:28.

Heat 2 had the top 15 affiliates going head-to-head. The Diablo CrossFit Anejo team jumped out to an early lead with the first team member on the pistols. But TJ’s Gym Mill Valley came on strong on the cleans, followed by the RCF Honey Badgers and CrossFit Santa Cruz.

The cleans made the difference in this event, with numerous teams losing or making up ground on these heavy lifts. CrossFit Diablo Anejo, CrossFit 808, and TJ’s Gym were neck and neck when the final athlete of the four team members came off the rowers and on to the pistols.

In the end, it was TJ’s Gym, anchored by big man Danny Nichols, who crossed the finish line first at 16:53 and set a new world record, breaking the previous record of 16:57 set by Team CDR Redlands at the Southern California Regional. They were followed by Diablo CrossFit Anejo at 17:21, CrossFit 808 at 18:08, and the RCF Honey Badgers at 18:17.

Event 2

1.     TJ’s Gym Mill Valley (16:53)

2.     Diablo CrossFit Anejo (17:21)

3.     CrossFit 808 (18:08)


1T. RCF Honey Badgers (5)

1T. TJ’s Gym Mill Valley (5)

3. CrossFit 808 (5 – in 3rd due to the tie-break rule)


Event 2

1.     Jenny LaBaw (12:22)

2.     Sarah Hopping (12:35)

3.     Miranda Oldroyd (12:45)


1.     Annie Sakamoto (6)

2.     Jenny LaBaw (9)

3.     Candace Hamilton Hester (9)

The sun just passed overhead as the women took their places on the rowers for the long, grueling 2K row. Each athlete tried to set a rowing pace to stay with the pack, yet still leave enough for the pistols and hang cleans.

In Heat 1, Diablo's Margaux Alvarez led from start to finish, first off the rower, first off the pistols, and finishing 1st in her heat in 14:22. Alvarez, as a first year individual competitor, came into this workout with “the goal to finish in the time cap”, performing well above her expectations.

Heat 2 brought the women of LaLanne, Sarah Hopping and Amy Woods. Although Hopping was first off the rower and killed the pistols, training partner Woods stayed right behind her all the way to the cleans. Hopping, a competitive Olympic Weightlifter and former Olympic hammer thrower, dominated the hang power cleans, breaking them into sets, but still flying through each one for a time of 12:35. Woods struggled with the hang power cleans, and Anh Vu came from behind to take 2nd place in 15:05 to finish 10th overall. For Vu, of CrossFit 101, the toughest part of the workout was keeping her balance on the pistols, but she came in knowing she could catch up on the cleans.

Heat 3, with the top women coming into Regionals displayed a close race from start to finish. Jenny LaBaw led the event right off the rower, keeping up an impressive pace and poise on the pistols. This was the workout LaBaw said she most looked forward to this weekend.

Annie Sakamoto made up time on the pistols, staying in control of the movement, and these two leaders made it to the heavy hang powers cleans almost together. The hang power cleans slowed down many today, but provided little impediment for LaBaw, who finished first in 12:22.

Miranda Oldroyd fought for a come-behind finish of 12:45 and a 3rd place overall. Oldroyd knew she would be “better on the pistols and cleans than many on the field,” so she paced the row, a strategy that clearly paid off. Close behind Oldroyd came Candace Hamilton Hester looking strong and determined for the weekend’s events.


Event 2

1.     Jason Khalipa (11:24)

2.     Neal Maddox (11:30)

3.      Gabe Subry (13:35)


1T. Jason Khalipa (3)

1T. Neal Maddox (3)

3. Blair Morrison 13 pts

In the final event of the day, all waited in anticipation of the men taking the field to finish Day 1.

In Heat 1, Shaun Eagan was first off the rower, followed by Nigel Noriega. Mark Pfiefer pulled just ahead on the pistols, but the cleans were clearly heavy as he caught each rep in a squat clean as opposed to many of the athletes’ high power clean. Even though the hang power cleans proved heavy for the whole field, Eagan was clearly in control, finishing in 13:45.

Heat 3 brought the battle of the day, as Neal Maddox and Jason Khalipa fought to the very end. Although Khalipa came off the rower almost 30 seconds before any other athlete, a few shaky pistols allowed Maddox to catch up.

The two stayed neck and neck for the remainder of the event, pulling ahead of everyone else in the heat. In the end, Khalipa broke Rich Froning’s record, finishing in 11:24. Maddox was across the line seconds later at 11:30. “I put in the work and he knew he could do it,” Khalipa says.

Now he is going for the record in Events 3, 4, and 6. Meanwhile Maddox is fired up for tomorrow, knowing this record pushes both men.