The South East gets gym-nasty.
After Day 1 of the South East Regional, the stories of the day are that of a dark horse and the comeback of a veteran.
Former Clemson football player, Marquan Jones, came to Regionals flying under the radar. Jones finished the Open in 33rd place, but after today, his 5th-place overall finish has put his name on the map.
“Day One feels good. I just have to keep trucking and see how Day Two and Day Three go," said Jones. "The snatch went well. Believe it or not, I've never snatched 275 lb. off the ground. I've never gained fresh so I can't really ever get a true number until competition comes around."
Jones said playing college football mentally prepared him for regionals.
“I've played in front of 80,000 plus. The real difference is it's a team event so if you don't do well your entire team won't do well,” Jones said. "If you do well here, you're rewarded for what you do."
On the women’s side, Sarabeth Phillips has ensured that she will not be counted out of this year’s competition. Coming to regionals seeded in last place, Phillips finds herself in fourth place overall.
After working the night shift the past year at her job as a registered nurse, Phillips said her training suffered and contributed to her disappointing 56th-place finish in the Open.
“A few weeks ago, my shift got moved back to days, and I feel like I am back to myself again,” she said.
The former gymnast was excited when the events were released and knew they would play in her favor. Making her fifth trip to regionals, Phillips said she has something to prove.
“I knew that today, I had to move,” she said. “I want everyone one to know that I deserved to be here.”
As the men prepared to take the floor of the arena for the first time of the day, there was a sense of calm and focus. The individuals kicked their regionals off with a max hang squat snatch in Event 1, followed by a max distance handstand walk in Event 2.
Warming up, Travis Mayer said he felt “awesome and ready to go.”
“I feel that gymnastics is the way regionals will start going … I think it was inevitable. Now everyone is practicing,” Mayer said.
Jeff Evans and Quinn Otte both hit the heaviest lifts of the day, tying for first with a hang snatch squat of 285 lb.
Jones started off his competition with an impressive third-place finish on Event 1 with a 275-lb. lift.
“I had never done a hang snatch before, and I had never even hit 275 lb. from the floor so it was a PR all the way around,” Jones said.
Cory Dill was the first male on the handstand walk to make it to the turnaround point and back, bringing the crowd to its feet. His final distance was 190 feet.
Guido Trinidad displayed his agility as he completed a staggering 320 feet on the handstand walk, taking first place on Event 2.
"I feel great about the first event,” Trinidad said. “I know my strengths and weaknesses so I'm not going to try and play outside of myself. I'm just going to try and do what I know I can do in training and utilize the gifts that God has given me."
Noah Ohlsen looked to beat his training partner, Trinidad, in the handstand walk, coming in just five feet short with 315 feet.
"Guido and I train together all the time, and we are always kind of neck-and-neck. I couldn't even tell where he was … . I actually thought I had him, and then they said the number at the end, and I thought, ‘Just five feet!’ I think I probably could've kicked up a second earlier and tied him, but no worries. I'm happy to take second right behind him for now."
Elijah Muhammad nailed 270 lb. on his hang squat snatch and then covered 230 feet on the handstand walk, just missing the second turnaround point by 10 feet. His performance put him in the top spot on the Leaderboard after the first two events.
"My strategy for the snatch was kind of to see where other people were at, listening to the announcer say who's loading what, and once I heard that, I knew when to make my jumps to hit what I needed to hit,” Muhammad said. “My body is feeling stable and not worn out, and I'm ready to get into the third event."
Event 1 Results
1T.Jeff Evans (285 lb.)
1T. Quinn Otte (285 lb.)
3. Marquan Jones (275 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Guido Trinidad (320 ft.)
2. Noah Ohlsen (315 ft.)
3. Bradley Pritchard (310 ft.)
Event 3’s Nasty Girls V2 is a beefed-up version of a benchmark CrossFit workout and consists of three rounds of 50 pistols, 7 muscle-ups, and 10 hang power cleans. In the men’s competition, it all came down to who could do the movements unbroken. Event 3 was nastier for some more than others.
"Nasty girls was fun,” Ohlsen said. “I'm good at pistols and love muscle-ups. I felt like I kept a good pace, and then Dominick (Maurici) came in and snuck up on me. But I'll take second on that one. I still feel good about it."
Ohlsen’s second-place finish with a time of 7:57 put him at the top of the Leaderboard after Day 1.
"Seeing my name in first today immediately reminded me of where I was after the first day last year—definitely shocked,” he said. “I am not going to let it slip away from me this year. Taking each day one day at a time.”
Last year, Ohlsen ended Day One of the Regional in 1st place, only to fall behind and take seventh overall.
His strategy to stay on top this year?
"Move fast and don't stop. Yeah, that's it,” Ohlsen said.
Trinidad fought for the very last hang clean to tie Muhammad as they both hit the finish mat at the same time. The men tied for ninth place in the event.
"It went good. Hurting. Burned my legs up,” Muhammad said. “I've never been able to compete in pistols. I just always had to get through them. I've been working on pistols nonstop leading up to this. I was like, ‘I can move faster, just get out of yourself. Don't listen to your body. Let your mind tell you that you can go faster.’ But I mean I'm paying the price. My legs are on fire now, but towards the end, it helped."
Muhammad and Trinidad’s finish time of 8:51 secured a second-place finish for Muhammad and a third-place finish for Trinidad at the end of Day 1.
"It's one of those things, you know you just couldn't hold onto the bar,” Trinidad said. “Everything from my fingertips all the way to my elbows is just jacked up. Everybody kept saying it was all about the pistols—it's not. My pistols were the fastest of the group, and Elijah caught up to me. It's amazing! I was beating him by 20 pistols every round and for him to come back was a combination of my bad grip, and his ability to continue to be pretty even throughout the movements."
In the final heat, all the men finished under the 10-minute mark. Maurici wowed the crowd with a blazing time of 7:25. He finished first in the event, finishing the day in 18th place.
"I knew I had to make up ground after the handstand walk,” Maurici said. "I knew I was going to come out here and do good on this (event). My fans and family were all on the side yelling, 'Don't drop the bar! Don't drop the bar!' and I'm like, ‘Leave me alone because I know what I'm doing.’"
Evans finished the event in third place with a time of 8:02 and ends the day in fourth place.
"I was worried about my left knee because it was pretty swollen last week after all of the lifting,” Evans said. “The swelling went down, and my pistols were blazing today. My strategy was to go as fast as I could go. That's it. It was a quick workout."
Only one point separates the top three male athletes.
Event 3 Results
1. Dominick Maurici (7:25)
2. Noah Ohlsen (7:57)
3. Jeff Evans (8:02)
1. Noah Ohlsen (19)
2. Elijah Muhammad (20)
3. Guido Trinidad (21)
4. Jeff Evans (24)
5. Marquan Jones (26)
6. Travis Mayer (29)
7. Ryan Sunshine (31)
8. Julian Serna (31)
9. Aaron Hanna (34)
10. Irving Hernandez (41)
As women made their debut at the South East Regional, the arena stands continued to fill and the noise level grew as former gymnast, Phillips, hit 160 lb. on the hang squat snatch in the first heat of the day.
Shana Alverson was determined not to have a repeat of last year’s DNF on the overhead squat complex and matched Phillips’ 160 lb. on the hang squat snatch.
"After last year, I realized that it's not good enough to have weaknesses,” Alverson said. “Everything has to be a strength.”
As the lifts got heavier, the stands grew louder.
Taylor Stallings had the crowd cheering with her hang squat snatch of 190 lb., but she just missed hitting the proper depth and received a no-rep. Stallings’ second lift at 185 lb. was still good enough to give her the top spot on Event 1.
"I feel all right,” Stallings said. ”It's a little bit bittersweet. I'm glad I won the event but I, of course, wanted more. I felt as if I was low, but that's why we have judges. I'm glad that they hold strong to their integrity."
Stallings said she loves the new venue this year.
”When I was walking out and saw myself out there, I looked up and said, 'Oh shoot, I'm on TV,’” she said. “It was great and so exciting. It really makes you feel like you're at the Games.”
Lauren Brooks looked strong in both Events 1 and 2, placing her name on the Games’ contender list. She tied for second on the hang squat snatch, hitting 180 lb., and finished the handstand walk in seventh place at 185 feet.
"I've really been focusing on my weaknesses,” Brooks said. “For me, one of my weaknesses is my weight. I'm one of the largest females here, and I knew I had to cut some weight the healthy way."
Returning South East champ, Talayna Fortunato, tied her training partner, Brooks, for second place in Event 1. She matched her hang squat snatch PR at 180 lb.
“I got the nerves out,” Fortunato said. “With the snatch, you can get pretty nervous because there's no room for error. You only get three tries so it was good to go out there and get it out of the way."
But the nail-bitter came in Event 2 as Fortunato went head-to-head on the handstand walk with former gymnast, Emily Bridgers. Bridgers edged Fortunato out by 15 feet to take first place in the event with 315 feet.
"I should've pushed the pace on Bridgers because I could've kept walking, but we just ran out of time,” Fortunato said.
Fortunato tied for second place on the handstand walk with another former gymnast, Hilary Mauro, at 300 feet.
Style points were awarded to Bianca Blair, who took to the floor in a sequined tuxedo sports bra, black fishnet stockings, and hot pink kneepads. With only 11 months of CrossFit under her belt, Blair made an impression with the crowd not only with her style, but also with her 150-lb. hang squat snatch and 100-foot handstand walk. She ended Events 1 and 2 in 11th place overall.
"I just like being myself,” she said. “I've always loved style, and I used to make my own outfits when I was running track. This weekend is no different. I’m here to have fun and wearing something fun is part of that. My old track coach used to say when you look good, you feel good and perform good. Dressing up, style and glamour makes me feel good and perform better.” Blair said.
Event 1 Results
1. Taylar Stallings (185 lb.)
2T. Talayna Fortunato (180 lb.)
2T. Lauren Brooks (180 lb.)
4. Alexis Yoculan (175 lb.)
Event 2 Results
1. Emily Bridgers (315 ft.)
2T. Talayna Fortunato (300 ft.)
2T. Hilary Mauro (300 ft.)
4. Jessica Carillon (295 ft.)
“I am definitely excited to be here competing,” Hannah Richards said. “I've watched from the sidelines the past two years, knowing I had what it takes to hang with these girls.”
After a rocky start in Event 1 where she tied for 20th place, Richards felt better about Event 3. She finished the workout in third with a time of 8:59 and is in fifth place overall.
"I came out on the snatches and missed my first two lifts so I was happy with how this one panned out,” she said. “This was definitely in my wheelhouse. Muscle-ups and the cleans were fairly light. I felt good."
Former powerlifter Stallings has spent this year honing in on her gymnastic skills and is excited to show them off. Stallings flew through her first set up muscle-ups, hitting many of them at almost full extension.
”(Tomorrow) I'm looking forward to the strict handstand push-ups,” Stallings said. “Last year, I didn't have kipping handstand push-ups so I was doing strict. I spent the entire year practicing kipping and now it's back to strict. So I know I can do that, and it's definitely in my wheelhouse."
Stallings finished Event 3 in fourth place with a time of 9:42, a definite surprise to many who thought Stallings could only go heavy.
Bridgers, the so-called “bridesmaid” of regionals for her fourth-place finish in 2012 and fifth-place finish in 2013, is gunning for the podium, completing the day with another top finish on Event 3 with a time of 8:20. She finished the day in second place, three points behind Fortunato.
Fortunato took second place all day today, but sits in first overall after Day 1. She admitted she is nervous about tomorrow.
"Yeah, I’m nervous, but only for Event 4,” she said, regarding its strict handstand push-ups.
“Because I'm tall,” Fortunato said. "Physics, that's why."
Event 3 Results
1. Emily Bridgers (8:20)
2. Talayna Fortunato (8:49)
3. Hannah Richards (8:59)
1. Talayna Fortunato (6)
2. Emily Bridgers (9)
3. Lauren Brooks (18)
4. Sarabeth Philiips (20)
5. Hannah Richards (29)
6. Lauren Truszkowski (34)
7. Shana Alverson (36)
8. Jessica Carillon (37)
9. Sarina Woodworth (37)
10. Taylar Stallings (38)