If the CrossFit world forgot about Roy Gamboa when he left Carson, California, in 2013 with a 22nd-place finish, it got a crash-course refresher after Day 1 of the 2015 South Regional.
With second- and first-place finishes in the first two events, Gamboa showed that while the competition may have forgotten about him, he hasn’t forgotten about the competition.
While Games athletes Patrick Burke and Jeff Germond were within striking range of qualifying positions, in sixth and ninth places, celebrated veteran Matt Chan began Day 2 in a hole after 14th- and 20th-place finishes in Events 1 and 2.
On the women’s side, the race remained tight between 2014 Games champ Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and two-time Games athlete Margaux Alvarez. At the end of the day, the two women switched places on the overall leaderboard leaving Leblanc-Bazinet at the top and Alvarez in second, 33 points behind.
Yesterday, Margaux Alvarez tore the leaderboard asunder with first- and second-place finishes in Events 1 and 2 for 195 points, starting the weekend with 49 points between her and fifth place, and a 15-point lead over Camille Leblanc-Bazinet in second.
Joining Alvarez today in the women’s top heat were Whitney Cappellucci, Gabrielle Andrews, two-time Games athlete Amanda Goodman, 18-year-old dark horse Maddy Myers and perennial regional competitor Andrea Ager.
Promising an exciting afternoon, all except Ager have listed snatches of 180 lb. or more, and of the top-10 women overall, three walked 290 feet or more in last year’s regional Event 2, a handstand walk for distance.
Three-time Games athlete Jenn Jones held fifth place by a scant 2-point margin with 146 points to Andrews’s 144, while two-time Games athlete Tiffany Hendrickson sat in 28th place with 70 points—76 points outside of qualification.
Two hours before the women tackled the chipper, only two women in the Atlantic Regional completed the work within the 26-minute time cap—Emily Bridgers finished in 24:53.5 and Anna Tunnicliffe in 24:58.8.
No woman from the South Regional finished, though Natalie Newhart came the closest, taking her first event win with a time-capped score and 19 reps on the floor.
“I stuck to the plan; I tried hard,” Newhart said. “I knew I was going to make the most of my lead on the GHD, so I had to go hard on them. I had to just get through it.
Newhart, a 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games athlete, was second off the treadmill after Whitney Cappellucci at 8:40. Though Newhart leaned to her right on the 95-lb. overhead squat, she held the bar steady while Cappellucci dropped after just a few reps. Newhart only picked up speed from there, the first to reach the GHD at 11:50, shedding her weight belt mid-situp.
Just after the 13-minute mark, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet advanced to the GHD. Tearing through the reps at a pace of nearly 1 rep per second, her ponytail whipping her face, she seemed poised to catch up to Newhart. But after her first 20 reps, she struggled visibly, resting after every one to three reps.
Two lanes to her right, Jones, who sat in fifth overall by a precarious 2 points, maintained a steady two-second per rep pace, but Newhart was already more than 40 reps ahead. Newhart advanced to her jump rope at 16:17, a clear field all around.
Alvarez, Cappellucci, Jones and Leblanc-Bazinet were the next to their jump ropes just after the 18-minute mark. Two minutes later, Alvarez was the first to challenge Newhart since the overhead squats, beginning her sumo deadlift high pulls with sets of three to four while Newhart did singles, sinking into a mini squat and using her hips to help yank the barbell upward.
While Alvarez and Newhart raced, less than 10 reps apart, Jones, Ager and Leblanc-Bazinet chipped away, unwilling to give up yet unable to catch up.
The fans erupted when Newhart advanced to the box and casting off her shirt. With rebounding lateral jumps, she had 20 reps banked at 24:15. Just more than a minute later she had only 20 reps to go. The clock stopped on Newhart’s 81st box jump over, leaving Jones 23 reps deep into her box jump overs and Ager at the barbell.
“This is the event I was most afraid of,” Jones said. “Twenty-six minutes is a freaking long-ass time cap.”
With her 14th-place finish, Ager sunk from third to 11th overall, 39 points away from Jones, who remained in fifth after Event 3.
Event 3 Results
1. Natalie Newhart (CAP+19)
2. Margaux Alvarez (CAP+44)
3. Tiffany Hendrickson (CAP+51)
4. Whitney Cappellucci (CAP+60)
5. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (CAP+61)
For the first time this weekend we saw the champ smile.
Though she had remained near the all weekend, she had yet to win an event, taking second, fourth and fifth in the first three events.
Then came the handstand walk. In last year’s Regional Event 4—a handstand walk for distance—she took second in Canada East with a 345-foot walk. And she’s only gotten better since.
As the final heat of women awaited the buzzer, the camera zoomed in on the defending champ’s face, her eyes set with determination. The crowd was almost quiet until the horn sounded; they roared as the women sprinted to the end of the 125-foot floor. Leblanc-Bazinet wasn’t the first to kick up, but she took the lead immediately, pulling ahead of every woman except for Amanda Goodman, four steps ahead, in less than 10 seconds.
But Goodman fell just before the halfway point, and Leblanc-Bazinet kept going. She reached the end of the floor and spent half a second upright before diving down for her return trip.
Goodman chased her, 10 feet behind, but again fell at the floor’s midway point. Though Bazinet also fell just 10 feet short of the finish, her lead was secure, and she tumbled her way into her event win in 1:43.1. The time was good enough to snatch the event record away from Emily Bridgers who had done it in 1:47.9 earlier today at the Atlantic Regional.
“I feel like Friday was more towards my weakness,” she said after her first-place finish, “and the more the weekend goes on, the more I go towards my strength.”
Leblanc-Bazinet rounded out her weekend with a second-place finish in Event 5 just minutes later, snatching 187 lb. for second place.
But Event 5 was all about Jenn Jones.
While fans looked to Leblanc-Bazinet, who hang-snatched 190 lb. at the regional last year, Jones quietly loaded her barbell for her opening weight: 176 lb., 1 pound more than the champ had on her bar.
Easy pull, easy catch. Jones nearly power-snatched the weight, riding the bar down into a deep squat.
Leblanc-Bazinet made her lift, too, and 187 lb. after that. But in Jones’ second attempt, she stunned the crowd when her judge flipped her platform placard to 190 lb. Pulling that weight even faster than the first, she knew she had it even before she stood up, smiling as she sat in her squat.
Matching the champ record-for-record, Jones took home the second event record of the day, beating Cassidy Lance’s and Nicole Corey’s tie for 176 lb. by 14 lb.
“It’s always a good thing to win an event,” said Jones, whose PR is 195 lb. “Because of my gymnastics background, I can go in and hit 175 lb. cold, so I knew I would be able to get that.”
Event 4 Results
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (1:43.1)
2. Tiffany Hendrickson (1:49.4)
3. Tennil Reed (1:53.5)
4. Brista Mayfield (1:55.6)
5. Jenn Jones (2:01.8)
Event 5 Results
1. Jenn Jones (190 lb.)
2. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (187 lb.)
3. Amanda Goodman (185 lb.)
4. Alexandra LaChance (180 lb.)
5. Whitney Cappellucci (176 lb.)
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (455 points)
2. Margaux Alvarez (422 points)
3. Jenn Jones (399 points)
4. Amanda Goodman (372 points)
5. Tennil Reed (334 points)
6. Brista Mayfield (325 points)
7. Whitney Cappellucci (328 points)
8. Maddy Myers (315 points)
9. Andrea Ager (298 points)
10. Natalie Newhart (293 points)
As with the men, the overall leaders on the women’s side remain a slightly jumbled version of yesterday’s, minus one name. Leblanc-Bazinet and Alvarez swapped places, with Leblanc-Bazinet in first with 455 points and Alvarez following with 422. Jones jumped to third with 399 points.
“My goal for tomorrow is to come in and do some CrossFit,” Jones said.
Though Goodman held steady in fourth, ending Day 2 with 372 points, Ager’s 23rd- and 28th-place finishes in Events 4 and 5, coupled with Tennil Reed’s third and 10th-place finishes, dropped Ager to ninth. Reed stepped up to the fifth qualifying spot, with 334 points.
"I worked my hardest, but things just didn't go my way,” Ager said.
Regional competitors have grit and until today they showed no pain. But there were more grimaces than grins in Event 3’s 1-mile run, followed by a 450-rep chipper of overhead squats, GHD sit-ups, double-unders, sumo deadlift high pulls and box jump overs.
For the first 10 minutes, the race was between Jason Hoggan and Caleb Christian, the first off the TrueForm. But when Cook and Hoggan reached the GHD together, just past the 11-minute mark, Hoggan dawdled getting onto the machine, giving Cook a few seconds head start.
For the next nine minutes, Conway, Cook and Williams traded the lead throughout the GHD sit-ups and double-unders.
“I smoked your ass on those GHDs,” Williams said to Cook after the event.
Still, Williams fell back at the barbell and Adrian Conway churned out his 135-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls in singles while Cook strung together several sets.
When Cook took a break in his final set of 25 high pulls, sitting in a squat to catch his breath, Conway caught up. The real race began at the box.
In their first set of 20 box jump overs, the men worked slowly. But as the seconds fell away, their fervor grew, each looking to become the first male to complete the event.
Conway jumped laterally, glancing at Cook as he made to close the gap of just a few reps. In the final 90 seconds, Cook realized he had a tail.
“I knew Adrian was coming, I could hear it,” Cook said.
With 60 seconds left, the men met eyes and both went double time, forgetting their pain as they rebounded from jump to jump.
As the crowd bellowed, Cook and Conway each advanced their boxes one last time with 10 seconds remaining, Cook just a few reps ahead. When the horn sounded at 26 minutes, Cook had the win with four more reps than Conway, winning the event with a time-capped score and 38 reps on the floor.
“I was bummed at the end when Adrian slowed down,” Cook said grinning.
Though the event shuffled the order of the top five men overall, it didn’t change the names on the leaderboard. Conway, Gamboa, Williams, Cook and Hoggan remain in qualifying positions going into the day’s final events, Conway their new leader.
Event 3 Results
1. Jordan Cook (CAP+38)
2. Adrian Conway (CAP+42)
3. Travis Williams (CAP+59)
4. Sean Sweeney (CAP+63)
5. Chris Hoppe (CAP+68)
Event 4 was a 250-foot handstand walk for time, and the top time came from a man in the fourth heat. The South West’s Lance Castle followed his tie for 31st in Event 3 with an outright win in the fourth event, walking 250 feet on his hands in 1:38.3.
He established the lead early, taking three to four steps with his hands for most other athletes’ two. While he walked, his legs flailed wildly in either direction yet he kept his balance. By the time he finished his first length, adjusted his shirt and handstand-walked halfway back to the finish, most others had yet to kick up for the return trip.
Though Castle fell thrice before he finished, his lead was more than enough to preserve a first-place finish in his heat, and his time would stand through the fifth heat, as well.
For Patrick Burke, on the other hand, Event 4 may have ended his chances at a return trip to California in 2015.
He began the 250-foot inverted journey in the back of the pack, cautiously reaching for each step as though he were picking through needles. But it wasn’t until he turned around for the last 125 feet that he hit an invisible, immovable wall.
Beneath the Rogue rig, Burke fell again and again, never advancing more than 20 feet with each attempt. There he remained until the buzzer sounded at the end of the 3-minute time cap, taking 41st in the event.
"That ruined any chances of my going,” Burke said. “It would take everyone else crashing and burning tomorrow and that's not gonna happen.”
It might not be Burke’s year, but it sure is looking good for Gamboa.
After lifting 270 lb. in Event 5’s max-snatch event, where athletes had two 20-second windows to attempt the lift, Gamboa took home his second event win of the weekend. Out of five events so far, he’s taken top two in three.
“I’m doing even better than I thought,” he said after the day’s events.
While athletes around him opened at more conservative weights in the 220s and 230s, Gamboa power-snatched 250 lb. in his first attempt. Less than three minutes later, he loaded 20 lb. more on the barbell and power snatched it again.
The catch was a little wide, his right leg pointing out to the side, but all that mattered is that he stood up with the bar overhead. Travis Williams and Chad Cole were the only two to come near Gamboa’s total, lifting 260 lb. and 266 lb. for third and second, respectively, in the event.
Event 4 Results
1. Lance Castle (1:38.3)
2. Justin Murphy (1:47.5)
3. Justin Fallon (1:59.2)
4. Sean Sweeney (1:59.5)
5. Chad Cole (1:59.6)
Event 5 Results
1. Roy Gamboa (270 lb.)
2. Chad Cole (266 lb.)
3. Travis Williams (260 lb.)
4. Jeff Germond (256 lb.)
5. Jordan Cook (251 lb.)
1. Roy Gamboa (435 points)
2. Travis Williams (418 points)
3. Adrian Conway (386 points)
4. Jordan Cook (364 points)
5. Sean Sweeney (315 points)
6. Chad Cole (307 points)
7. Jason Hoggan (284 points)
8. Jeff Germond (267 points)
9. Matt Chan (265 points)
10. Ruben Martinez (256 points)
After two days of work, the men’s podium is beginning to take shape. At the top stands Gamboa with 435 points, 17 points more than Williams in second.
“I just do CrossFit to have fun, and that’s what it’s all about,” Gamboa said. “I’m a dangerous athlete and I just want to have fun.”
Conway and Cook take the third and fourth spots, with 386 and 364 points, respectively. Missing from the lineup we’ve seen all weekend is Hoggan, whose tie for 36th- and 32nd-place finishes in Events 4 and 5 dropped him to seventh overall, 31 points out of contention. In his stead stands Sweeney, in fifth with 315 points.
Though Matt Chan has brought a valiant fight to each event thus far, frequently tempting his fans with promise of a win, at the end of Day 2 he stands in ninth, 50 points away from qualification.