May 24, 2014
SoCal Team Report: Day 2
By Hilary Achauer, with Jaala Thibault and Jaimie Bougie

Day 2 of the team competition comes to a close in the SoCal Region with Brick Nation atop the Leaderboard. 

For the second year in a row the SoCal Regional competition is at The Del Mar Fairgrounds—home to the historic Del Mar racetrack where Seabiscuit won an exciting race by a nose in 1938, helping make the newly-built racetrack a success.

Going into Day 2, the team competition was also shaping up to be a close race, with only one point separating second through fifth place after Day 1.

After completing Events 4, 5, and 6, Brick Nation held on to first place. However, CDR Redlands’ strong and consistent performance on Day 2 moved the team into second, a position that tied in points with Invictus, but put CDR in second place because of two higher finishes in previous events. Nipping at their heels in third is Valley CrossFit, led by former Games champion Kris Clever.

Can Clever lead her team to the Games this year, or will fifth place Kinnick Butter move into a top spot?

Team Events 4 and 5

Most team events in CrossFit see men and women working together, but Events 4 and 5 divided the genders. Event 4, a descending ladder of thrusters and rope climbs, was just for the women, with the athletes dividing up the work between the three female athletes. The men showed their skills and teamwork in Event 5, taking on the same couplet of thrusters and rope climbs.

The results were clear. The Brick women, whose members finished second, 15th, and 37th in Open, won, setting an event record with a time of 8:08. Their men finished in 7:54 in Event 5.

It was the opposite story for Invictus. Their men, who were third, ninth, and 11th in the Open, won Event 5 with a time of 7:15 while their women completed Event 4 in 9:21.

The wins helped Brick and Invictus hold on to the first and second spots, but a fourth-place (Event 4) and second-place (Event 5) finish for Team CDR Redlands moved them into third place.

In these events, the primary goal was to do the thrusters as quickly as possible without letting the bar drop to the ground. (If the bar hit the ground before the team members completed the set of thrusters, they had to start from the beginning.) As these teams demonstrated, there’s more than one way to hand off a thruster.

The women of Brick employed the behind-the-neck pass—when an athlete finished her set of 10 thrusters, she rested the bar on her back so her teammate could take over. The women of Valley CrossFit, whose team includes 2010 Fittest Woman on Earth, Clever, faced each other and took the barbell from the chest of the other athlete. When Chanel Call almost lost the bar during a pass off, a calm Clever gestured for her to settle before starting her reps.

During the rope climbs, Brick Nation divided the climbs into one climb for each athlete, whereas Valley decided to do multiple climbs per athlete to reduce transition time. In the first two rounds, Valley's strategy was effective, allowing them to stay on Brick Nation's heels. But in the end, Valley’s women were no match for Brick Nation, who pulled ahead on the thrusters and rushed back to the rope climbs. Brick was able to hold their lead over Valley and take the win.

Clever said the team experience has been fun so far.

“Everyone on the team is experienced, and I'm currently replacing an athlete who just had a baby,” she said.

Trixie Arya said Clever is an invaluable teammate.

“What's great about Kris being on the team is she is our primary coach for everything, including group classes. She knows all of our weaknesses and everything else so well, and is able to help us strategize,” Arya said.

The men began their work immediately after the women finished. The final men's heat started off with a frenetic energy from the crowd, Brick’s orange-clad fans chanting “Brick! Brick! Brick!” from the stands.

From the start, Invictus, CDR Redlands and Axiom led the field. Invictus was able to pull away from CDR Redlands during the second round with faster transitions on the thrusters, with the men each taking on larger sets.

But CDR Redlands stayed close behind Invictus, going rep-for-rep on the rope climbs. Invictus’ Nuno Costa was able to do multiple climbs in a row, pulling ahead of CDR Redlands to win Event 5.

“We had a number of thrusters we were supposed to hit every time and we were keeping an eye on the judge for any no-reps so that it didn’t get bottled up at the end,” Costa said.

“We couldn’t tell where any of the other teams were at; we were focused on what we were doing. Ain’t nobody got time for that!” he said.

Team Event 4 Results
1. Brick Nation (8:08)
2. Valley CrossFit (8:49)
3. Kinnick Butter (9:02)

Team Event 5 Results
1. Invictus (7:15)
2. Team CDR Redlands (7:27)
3. Axiom CrossFit (7:35)

Team Event 6 

Although they retained their spots at the top at the end of Day 2, Brick Nation and Invictus did not dominate Event 6. The win in the strict handstand push-up, hang power clean and burpee triplet went to Kinnick Butter, led by former Games competitor Jeremy Kinnick.

Second place went to Valley CrossFit, and the third-place finish in this event came in the second heat. Ruination CrossFit (which has two teams at the regional competition) took third overall, finishing the work in 19:43. Masters athlete Noelani Guaderrama helped her team with quick and easy handstand push-ups. Gauderrama competed in the masters division in the Open and narrowly missed qualifying for the Games, ending her season in 39th worldwide.

The determining factor for all teams in this event was the women's ability to do strict handstand push-ups consistently. The first men in the final heat blazed through their reps, with the lead male on Team CDR Redlands finishing his work in just over two minutes.

Paul Gregrow, a previous regional individual athlete who is now on the Ruination CrossFit Gold team, helped his team take an early lead in the final heat. Ruination was the first to get through all three men, and then the women took over.

One of the Ruination Team Gold athletes, 43-year-old Tonia Osborne, qualified for the Games as a master. If faced with the choice of masters or team at the Games, Osborne has already decided which division she will compete with in Carson.

“If I make it for both masters and team to this year’s Games, I will choose to go team,” she said in an interview before the regional competition began. “I have many more years to compete as a master in the Games.”

Once the women took over, the teams at the top were Invictus, Ruination CrossFit Gold and Valley CrossFit. Pulling quickly ahead, Invictus' first female athlete got through the triplet in about three minutes, with Ruination's first female just about 30 seconds behind.

However, it was Kinnick Butter's final female, Christine Navarro, who stole the lead. Though she stood looking at the wall for a few moments to collect herself before her last set of handstand push-ups, she managed to finish her last round quickly and hop onto the finish mat at 18:23. Valley followed nearly a minute later to finish with a time of 19:22.

“Handstand push-ups are actually not my thing,” Navarro said after the event, “but my team pushes me hard, every single day. I knew I could do it, I’ve done it with a few fails in between, so it was just a mental game.”

The win moved Kinnick Butter into fifth place, four points behind Valley CrossFit. The teams are done for today and they have two more events on Sunday to determine the top three spots.

Team Event 6 Results
1. Kinnick Butter (18:23)
2. Valley CrossFit (19:22)
3.  Ruination CrossFit (19:43)

Team Overall Standings
1. Brick Nation (26)
2. Team CDR Redlands (29)
3. Invictus (29)
4. Valley CrossFit (32)
5. Kinnick Butter (36)
6. CrossFit PB (42)
7. Ruination CrossFit Gold (59)
8. Invictus Unconquerable (60)
9. Pariah CrossFit A (66)
10. CrossFit 760 (69)