May 13, 2012
Regional Report: Snatch Ladder Shakes up Competition
By Hilary Achauer

"The bars are amazing ... they just spin."

Experienced CrossFit athletes know to follow their game plan and pace themselves. We’ve seen it in each workout and during the whole weekend — those who start strong don’t necessarily come out on top. Going into Day 3 it was up to those at the top to hold onto their spots, and for athletes on the bubble to make a move.

The day started out overcast and cool, a welcome break from the burning heat of Saturday, and athletes took on the Snatch Ladder, a crowd-pleaser that shows off the Olympic lifting technique of these top CrossFit athletes.


Going into Event 5, the question was: Could any of the men shake up the Leaderboard, in a workout that was very different from the test of endurance we saw in Event 4?  Before the event, 2nd-place Kenneth Leverich’s coach said Leverich loves the Snatch Ladder. “Kenny’s PR is 255 pounds, but it seems like a lot of guys are PRing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he got 265 or more.”

Most of the men early in the ladder stalled out around 235lb., with Greg Pitts of CrossFit Pacific Beach the first to make it to 255lb., missing his lift at 265.

Excitement grew as the men at the top of the Leaderboard took the floor. The crowd erupted when fan favorite Bill Grundler walked up to the bar for his first snatch. Most of the top men got stuck at 245lb. and their score rested on how many double-unders they could fit in before the 50-second time cap elapsed.

Soon only three men were left working through the ladder: Jeremy Kinnick, Kenneth Leverich and Jon Pera. Kinnick fell to his knees to make a successful lift at 225, and then failed at 235lb.

When Pera approached 235lb., his fans began chanting, “Pera, Pera, Pera.”

Then there were two men left. Before approaching the 265lb. bar, Leverich raised his arms to ask for support from the crowd. He missed the lift, and then it was Pera’s turn. Pera easily made the 255lb. snatch, and then decided not to lift 260, knowing he didn’t need it to stay in 1st place.

“The bars are amazing,” Pera said after the event. “They just spin.”

“I usually don’t have a plan; I just feel out the atmosphere,” he says. Going into Event 6, he said he is going to see how his body feels.

Leverich, behind Pera by three points has his sights set on Event 6. “In practice he did a 13:45, so the only guy I’ve seen so far beat him was Ben Smith. That was the only time that was better in the [previous] Regional … so he should get 1st in that Event,” Leverich’s coach said.


The anticipation was palpable as the women started Event 5. The crowd was looking to see some big weight overhead and the Valley girls planned to come out in full force.

The plan is to hit 185 pounds. I’m going to finish the ladder,” Lindsay Valenzuela said before the event. Today will be interesting. Hopefully I’ll pull a Spealler,” Valenzuela said on the battle for 4th and 5th places.

When the event started, many of the women had trouble moving past the first few bars. The 115lb. bar pinned Melissa Popovich to the ground as her arms gave out. Wearing a “Lift like Lindsay” shirt, Madelyn Curley snatched her body weight of 115lb.

One by one, the women dropped out of the ladder, and the only athletes left were Valenzuela, Clever, Voigt and Voboril. Voigt was out at 140; Voboril at 135lb. The crowd was on their feet as Valenzuela easily hit 165.

Clever missed her first attempt at 160, and then pulled it off in the last few seconds remaining. Then it was Valenzuela alone on the floor. She easily snatched 170, and then moved on to 175 pounds. After knocking out her 20 double-unders, Valenzuela lifted 175 pounds. She moved on to 180, and failed at her first attempt. Her second try was unsuccessful, and although Valenzuela didn’t hit her goal of 185 pounds, this event moved her into 4th place, which puts her in contention for the Games.


Going into Day 3, CrossFit SoCal was in 3rd place. Their team includes two individual competitors from last year: Jacquie Johnson and Lauren Andrade.

“Lauren and I went team; it’s so much fun, these girls are so awesome. I work with Lauren [as firefighters], and it’s so much better to be on a team and cheer each other,” Johnson said.

The women employed a variety of techniques to get the bar overhead on the snatch ladder — power, split and squat snatch. Early on, a number of women looked surprised to miss the first snatch at 105 pounds. Only a handful of women made it past 130. Nichole DeHart of Invictus, who was in 11th place in the Region after the Open, was the last woman standing as she made a successful lift at 160lb. The crowd roared as DeHart stepped up to 165 and made the lift. She attempted 170lb. and missed the lift, but “I can’t ask for anything more,” DeHart said afterward. “I snatched 165 pounds once, but I’ve missed that weight for the past four months.”

After the individual women completed the snatch ladder, the team men took the floor. CDR Redlands was in 2nd place at the start of Day 3; impressive for a team that placed 10th in 2011.

“Our programming’s changed,” CDR Redlands coach Calvin Davis said. “Last year we went into it unexpected, not knowing. The idea was just to have fun. We worked out once a day, five times a week. We ended up making it to Regionals and it was kind of unexpected. From last year to this year we bumped up our training to two- and three-a-days now. We worked all year, really hard to get us to the Games.  We’re giving this a shot”.

Redlands knows that CrossFit SoCal is gunning for them. “We don’t worry about anyone else,” Davis said. “We just go in and try to execute the plan we have for each workout.  We try to execute our plan and where every other team lines up is where they line up. 

Everything so far has stuck to plan, for every workout.”

The men of CDR Redlands crushed the Snatch Ladder, with all three male members of the team moving on to 235lb. Then it was down to Invictus and CDR Redlands. Two CDR men snatched 255lb., and then it was Calvin Davis at the 275lb. bar. He made the lift, giving CrossFit CDR a score of 1,140, a world record by 10 points. “My max was 265, so 275 was a 10-pound PR. I stop when I PR,” Davis said.

At the end of the Snatch Ladder, CrossFit 760 overtook CrossFit SoCal by 30 pounds, putting them one point ahead. CDR held onto to their 2nd place spot, unable to oust Invictus from first, despite their world-record performance.

CDR has big plas for the final event. “The last event, we’re going to crush it. That’s right in our wheelhouse,” Davis said.