The battle for those precious few spots allotted to Masters athletes is over. For those who finished the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Open in the top 20 worldwide, the focus is now on the Games.
The South East Region is represented well with past Games veterans and newcomers, all with the same goal of reaching the podium.
Masters Men 40-44
This new age division for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games season will be one to watch. The South East has three men in this age group heading to California — Rob Labar, Danny Rios and Cory Dague.
Labar, 42, of CrossFit Boynton Beach, ended the Open in ninth place worldwide. After qualifying for the South East Regional in the individual men’s division last year, he suffered an injury and had to withdraw.
The disappointment lit a fire in Labar, who increased his training by doing daily multiple workouts and by getting stronger. When he first heard about the new Masters division, he took the “I'll have fun with it and see what happens" attitude. His attitude and training paid off as he prepares for his first trip to the Games.
Rios, 40, a firefighter and former baseball player, finished the Open in 14th worldwide. CrossFitting for more than four years, he owns and trains at Iron Temple CrossFit in Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
Dague, 40, spent the beginning of 2013 opening his own box, CrossFit Pike. Although his goal was to make it to the Games eventually, he wasn’t sure it would happen this year. After finishing the Open in 18th place, he can check this goal off his list.
Dague keeps his training simple, following the main site and targeting his weaknesses.
“My passion is to help people change their lives for the better by teaching them CrossFit and believing in them, sometimes before they believe in themselves,” Dague says. “My goal is to finish in the top five at the Games this year and to give my all every (event).”
Masters Men 45-49
Two men are representing the South East in the Men’s 45-49 Division. Ron Ortiz, 47, finished in 11th place at last year’s Games and finished in eighth place worldwide in this year’s Open. Although he is a year older, Ortiz says he is coming into this year’s competition even stronger and better prepared.
“I am currently training with coach Matt Franco who uses (Optimum Performance Training) programming, along with extra work to target my weaknesses,” Ortiz says. "I travel around and work out with the likes of Noah Olson, Guido Trinidad, John Adams, Chase Daniels, Stephanie McCarthy, Chris Muscarella, Pam and Pierre Sorero. I am really blessed."
Working out with some of the top athletes in the South East should have Ortiz prepared to meet his competition in California.
Mike Egan, 46, of Harbor City CrossFit, barely missed making it to the Games in 2012 after finishing the Open in 24th place worldwide. This year, he upped the ante and punched his ticket to the Games by finishing 18th in the Open.
Egan credits the Outlaw Way for helping him get stronger and more efficient with his Olympic lifts.
“My coach is Eric Rosenstock from CrossFit Deep. I hooked up with him through Outlaw remote coaching. I was following the Outlaw Way prior to his programming,” Egan says.
Egan’s improved endurance and strength will be helpful as the Masters are pushed to their limits in Carson.
Masters Men 50-54
Brian “Brig” Edwards and Bob LeFavi are representing the Dirty South in the Men’s 50-54 Division.
Edwards, 51, is a Games veteran and is also one of the few Masters who is unaffiliated.
“I train out of my garage and train solo or basically against myself,” Edwards says. “There were not boxes in our area, and so I did not have much of a choice regarding where I trained. By the time some boxes opened in my area, I was so used to training on my own schedule that I never joined a box.”
Edwards’ training apparently works after a second-place finish worldwide in this year’s Open. Look for him to make it on the podium once again.
LeFavi, 52, of Rincon Athletic CrossFit, almost ended his chance at making it to the Games just as it was beginning. A few hours after he hit Open Workout 13.3, LeFavi was demonstrating muscle-ups when he miscalculated how close the rings were to a steel bar 10 feet above the floor. He remembers starting his kip, and the next thing he saw were three pools of blood under his eyes as he lay facedown on the floor.
“I am one of the most safety-conscious people I know in any box, so what I did was just plain stupid,” he says.
With stitches in his head, a concussion and two black eyes, LeFavi hit 92 reps on workout 13.4 the following week. A solid performance on workout 13.5 saw him finishing the Open in fourth worldwide.
LeFavi says he is ready and optimistic about his chances for a solid performance at the Games.
Masters Men 55-59
This division could be called the “Dirty South Open,” as the men of the South East file six out of the 20 spots available. The athletes representing this division include Charlie Clendening, Charles Sullivan, Greg Budde, Tony Rogers, Tom Bourdon and Daniel Sharkey.
Clendening, Sullivan and Budde all train together at CrossFit Vero Beach. Clendening, 55, and Sullivan, 58, are both seasoned Games veterans. Clendening competed in 2011 finishing in 10th place and in 2012 finishing in 14th place in the Men’s 50-54 Division. Sullivan finished in ninth place in 2011 and fifth place in 2012. Budde, the youngster of the group, just turned 55 in May, and is making his first trip to the Games.
Three athletes from the same gym qualifying for the Games with just 20 spots available is nothing short of amazing.
“We sometimes joke that we have to remember that you might be only the third best 50-year-old in the gym, but could still make it to the Games,” Sullivan says.
That’s exactly what happened this year, and these guys did it in style, finishing in the top three spots in the South East in the Open. In the worldwide standings, Clendening finished in fifth, Sullivan in eighth and Budde in 17th.
Rogers, 56, of CrossFit Impulse made it to the Games by way of the sofa — sort of.
“In the fall of 2011, I was channel surfing and came across something on ESPN called the CrossFit Games,” he says. “It looked very interesting so I watched it and was amazed at the fitness level of the competitors.”
The next day, Rogers searched for a CrossFit gym in his area and found CrossFit Impulse. Eighteen months of hard work, and Rogers was ready for the Open. Two nights after finishing Open Workout 13.1, however, Rogers found himself in the ER getting 15 stitches in the palm of his right hand. Fortunately, the remaining Open Workouts were doable with the injury to his hand, and he ended up finishing the Open in 15th place.
“I'm really looking forward to the Games experience, as is my wife, family, CFI coaches and friends,” Rogers says.
Bourdon, 55, of CrossFit Adrenaline, will be making his first trip to the Games after finishing the Open in 19th place worldwide.
For Bourdon, CrossFit is truly a family affair. His daughter, Lindsay Bourdon, co-owns and is head coach of CrossFit Adrenaline. His other daughter, Allison, is also a coach. Both daughters compete on their affiliate team, which also qualified for the Games. Bourdon’s wife is also a CrossFitter, and the family dedicates their CrossFit experience to raise awareness to MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, a rare disorder suffered by Bourdon’s grandson.
No doubt the family will be competing and cheering each other on in California at the Games.
Sharkey, 56, of CrossFit Port Saint Lucie, fills out the impressive list of athletes from the South East in this division. Sharkey finished the 2013 open in 20th place worldwide with only one of the five workouts outside the top 50 worldwide.
“Daniel didn’t start CrossFit with hopes of competition, but with a goal of life extension,” says Sharkey’s coach, Fortune Santos. “No one in his family tree had lived past age 52. Doc is now 56 and one of the top men in the world in CrossFit."
This will be Sharkey’s first trip to compete at the highest level that CrossFit offers.
Masters Men 60+
Jim Lanier, 61, of CrossFit West Jax, is representing the Dirty South in the 60+ Division. This will be Lanier’s second trip to the Games after a 13th-place finish in 2012.
The past year has found Lanier targeting his weaknesses and honing his game. He finished this year’s Open tied for 13th place worldwide and is eager for another shot against the best of the best at the Games.