Voboril and Leverich lead entering the final day of competition in SoCal.
Like most of the athletes competing today, Lindsey Valenzuela had her own cheering section. One of her biggest fans is reigning CrossFit Games champion Sam Briggs, who came in fourth at the Europe Regional this season.
Valenzuela said Briggs has been giving her some tips, but Briggs is mainly here as a friend.
“She’s just really here for moral support and to be in my corner, which means a lot to me. She didn’t have to come all the way out here but she wanted to, so it means a lot as a training partner and as a good friend,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela did not win any events today—she took eighth in Event 4 and seventh in Event 5—but she is in fourth place overall at the end of the day, seven points behind third place Becca Voigt. If she’s going to make it to the Games, she’s going to have to do everything right on Day 3.
On the men’s side, it’s unlikely anyone will disrupt the top three. Kenneth Leverich has a firm hold on first place, seven points above second place Dan Bailey, who is five points ahead of Josh Bridges. The drop off between third and fourth is steep—Bridges is eighteen points ahead of Michael Hernandez.
However, none of the men in the top three are looking to simply qualify for the Games. They want to win.
Val Voboril is a mom, a full-time teacher … and a force to be reckoned with.
Event 4, a triplet of strict handstand push-ups, front squats and burpees, was the Voboril show from beginning to end. She took an early lead that she never relinquished, winning with a time of 10:23.
Her win was so decisive, it almost seemed effortless. After the event, Briggs came over to Voboril, hugged her and said with a laugh, “Sometimes I hate you.”
Although most of the top times came in the final heat, the women of heat two put on a show for the crowd in Del Mar. As the athletes were waiting for an equipment change, Vanessa Reyes and Nomi Nilson executed synchronized back flips. The CrossFit fans in the stands cheered.
The back flip may have kick-started Reyes’ adrenaline. She worked through the handstand push-ups steadily and completed the front squats unbroken, securing second place in the heat and a sixth place overall with a time of 14:36.
The winner of Heat 2, Caitlin Hogan, shined from the beginning, never missing a rep and keeping a great pace throughout. With a smile on her face, she hopped onto the finish mat at 11:06, good for first in her heat and second place overall.
In the final heat, Voboril, Lauren Fisher and Becca Voigt held first, second, and third for the duration of the event.
Voboril completed her handstand push-ups in large sets, never going to failure and keeping a steady pace. Though Fisher did her front squats quickly, almost catching Voboril on early rounds, Voboril was able to pull away on the handstand push-ups in the round of nine.
Ending with a quick wave to the crowd, Voboril jumped onto the finish mat in an overall first-place time of 10:23. Fisher finished third overall behind Hogan. Voigt, staying consistent, squeezed into fourth overall at 11:41.
Hagiya and Valenzuela both struggled on this event, starting off with singles on their first set of handstand push-ups. Valenzuela kept her cool and stuck to her strategy of breaking up the handstand push-ups and finished in eighth overall at 14:58, keeping her in fourth overall in the standings.
Before the event, Valenzuela said she has stuck to her game plan so far.
“Some external stuff that happened yesterday that (was) out of my control. But I’ve regrouped and I think it was a good kind of pressure to put on me, since I work well under pressure and I’m excited for everything,” she said.
Fisher’s third place finish helped her hold onto the third place spot overall after Event 4. She said she isn’t sore from yesterday—the 20-year-old has youth on her side.
Voboril, who is 35, said her quads hurt from the pistols on Day 1, but she said the adrenaline and the energy of the crowd pushed her to the win. However, Voboril is not celebrating yet.
“So far, everything’s been going well!” she said. “But still, I’m so nervous!”
Event 4 Results
1. Valerie Voboril (10:23)
2. Caitlin Hogan (11:06)
3. Lauren Fisher (11:10)
Pacing was everything for the women in Event 5.
Heat after heat, many athletes came on strong in the early legless rope climbs only to fail just before touching the top, dropping to the ground and watching helplessly as another athlete took the lead. The top times in this event went to athletes who never went to failure: Jamie Hagiya who finished first 5:29 and Val Voboril who came in second with a time of 5:45.
Rhett Chase was the clear victor in the first heat, employing a fast kicking kip on her rope climbs. Shaking out her arms as she ran in between her barrier and the rope, Chase finished with a time of 6:37, which would hold up against the later heats, landing her fifth in the event.
In Heat 2, mother of three Shanon Humphrey set a fast pace, sprinting from her lane marker toward the rope and jumping up without hesitation. Her pace slowed down on the ninth round when she began failing rope climbs.
This allowed Nomi Nilson to pass Humphrey and win the heat. After finishing, Nilson, a professional dancer, did a rapid series of handsprings and flips down her lane.
Just as the clock wound down, Humphrey was able to finish her final rope climb. The crowd cheered when she touched the cross bar after watching her struggle for that final ascent.
Heat 3 was no less exciting than Heat 2. Lindsey Valenzuela started off fast, easily climbing the rope and running to move her lane marker. Jamie Hagiya and Rachel Serna stuck with her through six rounds.
Then Hagiya moved into the lead, working steadily and picking up her pace as she went along, using her basketball background to jump up to the rope, saving her arms from fatigue.
Valenzuela faced some obstacles as she was no-repped in later rounds. This gave Hagiya a chance to solidify her lead, which she held for the rest of event. Hagiya finished with a best time of the day.
Following close behind Hagiya, Val Voboril kept a steady pace, jogging in between her lane marker and the rope, sliding easily into second place in the event with a time of 5:45 as other athletes struggled. Third place went to Rachel Serna who finished in 5:46.
“This was a good event for me,” Serna said, “and I was trying to keep up with the girls ahead of me as best as I can. I have a rock climbing background so it’s all about the grip strength and I knew this event was one that I could make a statement with.”
Despite her win, Hagiya finished the day in fifth place overall with 36 points. Voboril retains her definitive hold on first place with 16 points, with Fisher in second (22 points), followed by Voigt (24 points).
Event 5 Results
1. Jamie Hagiya (5:29)
2. Valerie Voboril (5:45)
3. Rachel Serna (5:46)
1. Valerie Voboril (16)
2. Lauren Fisher (22)
3. Rebecca Voigt (24)
4. Lindsey Valenzuela (31)
5. Jamie Hagiya (36)
6. Chelsey Grigsby (48)
7. Rachel Serna (50)
8. Melissa Popovich (53)
9. Meaghan Galindo (55)
10. Pam Eamranond (59)
Yesterday, Josh Bridges said he was excited for the events on Day 2.
He showed why on Event 4, setting an event record with a time of 8:18, beating Ben Stoneberg’s previous record of 8:44.
This win moved Bridges into third place, edging out Tommy Pease.
Like Voboril, Bridges took an early lead that he held throughout the event, finishing the first set of 21 handstand push-ups in 25 seconds, then never letting up for the entire event.
Other athletes did their best to keep up, Ryan Fischer crossing his arms like a genie on the front squats. However Bailey was the only one who was ever close to Bridges. Bailey was slowed by the handstand push-ups, completing them unbroken but resting on his head between reps.
Bridges looked as fresh on his last set of handstand pushups as his first, and easily cleaned and completed the 195 lb. front squats. After his last burpee, Bridges jumped onto the mat and screamed in triumph. He had just beaten the event record by 26 seconds, and had also overtaken Tommy Pease to move into third overall on the leaderboard. He celebrated by punching the air with his fists and pointing to the Invictus fans, who erupted in cheers.
Bailey kept moving through both his squats and burpees methodically, stepping onto the mat taking an easy second place in the event at 9:43.
While Bridges and Bailey congratulated each other, a race for third developed between Kenny Leverich and Pease. Though the men stayed relatively close together, Leverich was able to pull ahead of Pease by rolling onto his knees, hips, then chest during his burpees to save his shoulders for the handstand push-ups. This proved to be a great strategy as he was able to remain fresh for the handstand push-ups and pass Pease during the round of nine. He took third in the heat, and third overall at 10:57.
Leverich hung onto first place overall, with Bailey—a newcomer to the SoCal region, in second.
Bailey said he’s enjoying his first SoCal Regional, after moving from the Central East.
“It’s been good… a lot of people said that I was going into an easier region and that it’s no big deal, but I think any region you go to now is going to be hard, very competitive, and you can’t make any mistakes. So it’s been fun and fans have been very awesome, considering that I’m not from around here,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he’s been training with Bridges recently.
“It’s been awesome and a lot of fun. We poke at each other quite a bit, we’re competitive with each other and we talk a lot of trash, but it’s all in good nature,” he said.
Event 4 Results
1. Josh Bridges (8:18)
2. Dan Bailey (9:43)
3. Kenneth Leverich (10:57)
For the men, Event 5 was less about pacing and more about pure speed and technique. The fastest up the rope won.
The best time of the day for the 10 rounds of legless rope climbs and sprints came in the third heat, from Bryan Miller, who competed in the 2013 CrossFit Games, qualifying in the North West region.
The 6 foot 1 inch athlete took advantage of his height to quickly ascend the rope, jogging between his lane marker and the rope. Miller never slowed, always jumping right up to the rope when he got there, using a quick kicking technique to move upward. On the final round, Miller picked up the pace and sprinted at full speed to his mat, finishing in 3:42.
“I knew going into the event that it would be a really good one for me,” Miller said, “so I really had to exploit it. I wanted to go out hard, because I knew I wasn’t going to be in the top heat, so I needed to put up something that was going to be unbeatable.”
He achieved his goal.
In the second heat, on his third round of the rope climbs, Bill Grundler hurt his ankle, but finished the workout and continued to limp around to cheer on the remaining athletes in his heat. Grundler sought medical attention after the event and said he’s out of the competition with a possible ACL tear.
In the final heat, Kenny Leverich, Dan Bailey and Taylor Yaffee took the lead from the start. After the fifth round, Yaffee and Leverich moved ahead of Bailey, who slowed on his rope climbs. Leverich held the lead through the eighth round, just barely staying ahead of Yaffee.
In the final round, Yaffee finally overtook Leverich. As he finished his last sprint, Yaffee looked over and realized the win was his. He celebrated mid-run, pumping his fists in excitement before he moved his lane market one last time. Yaffee finished in 3:49 to win the heat, but it was not fast enough to overtake Miller who kept the fastest time of the day. Leverich finished second in the heat at 3:50, but third overall in the event.
“I knew I had a good shot to go sub 4:00 minutes,” Yaffee said, “but I didn’t know I would win it!”
“I went out there, gave it my all,” Yaffee said. “The guys in the previous heats told us not to hold back on the run and I knew I could jump up pretty high so I sprinted and did what I had to do.”
“I feel great going into tomorrow’s workouts,” Yaffee said about Day 3. “I know the first one is going to hurt."
Event 5 Results
1. Bryan Miller (3:42)
2. Taylor Yaffee (3:49)
3. Kenneth Leverich (3:50)
1. Kenneth Leverich (20)
2. Dan Bailey (27)
3. Josh Bridges (32)
4. Michael Hernandez (50)
5. Ryan Fischer (53)
6. Tommy Pease (54)
7. Taylor Yaffee (55)
8. Bryan Miller (72)
9. Wayne Willette (78)
10. Tory Morgan (78)