One year ago, Roy Gamboa missed qualification for what would have been his second Games appearance by just 1 point. Today he qualified for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games with 99 points to spare.
“It took a very long year of training, but it sure tastes good now,” Gamboa said.
Gamboa, a former collegiate linebacker and current coach at CrossFit Abilene in Abilene, Texas, took the top spot with two event wins and one second-place finish. Across seven events, he never fell below the top 10.
Taking fourth in the South, CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff member Adrian Conway finished with 518 points. Thirty-one points separated him from Jordan Cook, who took third, while just 4 points made the difference between Cook and Travis Williams in second. Chad Cole took the final qualifying spot with 478 points.
In his first CrossFit Games appearance, Cole will compete alongside his father, Dennis Cole who qualified for the Games in the Masters 50-54 Division.
"It's overwhelming,” Cole said. “You put so much into it, it's been a year in the making. To finally be here, to make it—it's overwhelming.”
On the women’s side, the top four qualifiers are all returning Games athletes, beginning with the 2014 defending champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet with 650 points. She took home two first- and three second-place finishes, never placing below the top five.
Following her were Margaux Alvarez in second (572 points), Amanda Goodman in third (557 points) and Jenn Jones in fourth (539 points). The fifth and final qualifying spot went to newcomer Maddy Myers with 478 points.
Just 18 years old, Myers, a former competitive rock climber and weightlifter, has been doing CrossFit for a year-and-a-half. Not only was this weekend her first regional, this Open was also her first and in July, she’ll compete at her first CrossFit Games.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Myers said.
“The goal was to have fun and finish all five weeks,” she added. “I never imagined the day I would be competing with so many respected Games athletes, including the fittest woman on Earth, would come this quickly in my CrossFit journey.”
At the end of Day 2, Cole sat just outside of a qualifying spot, 8 points away from Sean Sweeney in fifth. In Event 6, he decided to do something about that.
For almost the entirety of the 5 rounds of a 25-calorie row, 16 chest-to-bar pull-ups and 9 strict deficit handstand push-ups with a 4.5-inch deficit, Cole and Jordan Cook raced for the lead, Cook sporting a shirt reading “meathead” on the back. For the first three rounds, Cook led Cole by just a few reps, as the two butterflied their chest-to-bar pull-ups in unison at times.
Meanwhile, Sweeney struggled to their right, still on his third round of chest-to-bar pull-ups while Cook and Cole began their fourth. Sweeney’s pull-ups were more labored than the others’, but his real struggle was on the wall. While Cook and Cole did most of the handstand push-ups unbroken, Sweeney struggled to press out after the second round, moving to sets of 2 from the third round on.
“For me, that was as good as it gets,” Sweeney said after the event. “My biggest weakness is strict handstand push-ups, let alone at a deficit. Last year this time I couldn’t have even done one strict (deficit) handstand push-up, so for me that was huge.”
In Cole’s last few pulls on his fourth row, he cranked his head to the right to check on Cook’s progress. Though they met at the rig, Cook rested while Cole went to work, and Cole gained a 7-rep lead before Cook began to butterfly.
For about a minute, Conway made to take second place from Cook but after Cook gave himself a moment to shake out his arms, he overtook Conway again, 5 seconds ahead as the pair began their final round. But Cole had already started his, 20 seconds earlier.
Though Cole suffered a few no reps in his final set of handstand push-ups, he still got off the wall at same time Cook started his and Cook ran to his first event win at 12:04.7, pumping his fists in the air. Second place went to Logan Collins out of the fourth heat, while Conway took third.
The win elevated Cole to a qualifying position in fifth place overall with 407 points, 45 points more than Sweeney, who dropped to sixth.
“I’ve got to really execute on this next one and give it everything I’ve got,” Sweeney said. “I want to go to Carson real bad.”
After wresting himself from a post-event bear hug with fellow competitor Chase Duke, Cole reflected on his new status.
“Yesterday there was no pressure because I was so far behind, and I feel like I performed better because of it,” Cole said.
His plan for the final event?
“Stay calm,” he added.
Event 6 Results
1. Chad Cole (12:04.7)
2. Logan Collins (12:11.9)
3. Jordan Cook (12:31.5)
4. Ryan Laframboise (12:41.2)
5. David Richman (12:45.6)
Event 7 brought the CrossFit Games to Dallas with a final event inspired by last year’s Games event, Clean Speed Ladder.
After 15 muscle-ups, athletes needed to clean five barbells in rapid succession. Each was heavier than the next, beginning with 205 lb. and ending with 265 lb. Every CrossFit athlete knows how it feels to get stuck in the bottom of a heavy clean, and the event brought fans to their feet as they bellowed for athletes to get out of the hole.
Games veteran Matt Chan won the fourth heat in 1:25, signing off from the 2015 South Regional in style as he rounded the floor, waving to a screaming crowd.
The final heat was done just more than 2 minutes after it began. All men completed their 15 muscle-ups unbroken; they knew the money was in the cleans.
Two-tenths of a second made the difference between first and second, and for Cook and Williams, getting the weight up wasn’t the issue—it was getting it up faster than the other. Three lanes apart, they each leaped over their final bars and rammed into the rails, their order almost imperceptible.
Williams, who won the event with a time of 1:22.2, met Cook’s eye and flashed him the one-finger salute before enveloping his fellow competitor in a crushing embrace.
Cole’s time of 1:26.4 was good enough for eighth in the event, holding him fast in fifth place, the final qualifying spot.
Event 7 Results
1. Travis Williams (1:22.2)
2. Jordan Cook (1:22.4)
3. Dusty Flores (1:22.7)
4. Ruben Martinez (1:24.3)
5T. Matt Chan (125.5)
5T. Logan Collins (125.5)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Roy Gamboa (579 points)
2. Travis Williams (553 points)
3. Jordan Cook (549 points)
4. Adrian Conway (518 points)
5. Chad Cole (478 points)
In 2014, strict handstand push-ups caught more than a few women unprepared. In the South West Region alone, only half of the female athletes finished Regional Event 4, which featured 54 reps of the challenging movement.
This year, 39 women out of the South Regional completed four or more rounds of Event 6, which not only required athletes to do 45 strict handstand push-ups, but demanded they do it with a 3-inch deficit. Six finished the entire event.
Going into the final heat, fans expected a race between the South’s top women. What they got was an epic showdown between first and 10th place, as Natalie Newhart challenged Camille Leblanc-Bazinet rep-for-rep for more than 4 of the event’s 5 rounds.
Volleying the lead between them by just 2 to 3 reps, the pair’s pace matched perfectly; it was as if they had rehearsed.
It wasn’t until the end of the fourth round the champ broke away, going unbroken on her handstand push-ups while Newhart began to slow. Leblanc-Bazinet had a few good pulls in on the erg before Newhart strapped in and Leblanc-Bazinet maintained a slight lead.
When the pair reached the wall for the final time, the champ sped up while Newhart fizzled, and after a final unbroken set of strict deficit handstand push-ups, Leblanc-Bazinet sprinted away from the wall to claim her event win and record at 13:49.1, flashing a smile to the stands and a perfect pageant wave.
Newhart’s second-place finish in 14:41.2 catapulted her from 10th place to sixth overall, just 9 points below Whitney Cappellucci, who remained in fifth after Event 6.
"My goal was to win to make up for my lack of scores the other day,” Newhart said. “I didn't (have) any type of rep scheme; I was just going to feel it out … any time I looked over at Camille we were just head-to-head so that's why I kept going."
Event 6 Results
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (13:49.1)
2. Natalie Newhart (14:41.2)
3. Tiffany Hendrickson (15:02.5)
4. Amanda Goodman (15:28.1)
5. Rachel Garibay (15:33.4)
The final women’s event was a race of veterans and fresh blood.
Leblanc-Bazinet is known for her gymnastic prowess; Goodman, her strength. But nobody knew how Myers would fare.
The champ did her muscle-ups in two sets, while Goodman went unbroken. She approached the first weight, 135 lb., at 55 seconds—all her competitors still on the rings. No one doubted she would demolish all five weights. In her CrossFit Games debut in 2013, she won Clean and Jerk, lifting 235.2 lb., one-tenth more than Elisabeth Akinwale.
Fans hardly had a chance to scream when Goodman won the event in 1:21—no sooner had she stepped on her mat, Leblanc-Bazinet burst on the floor.
Less than a second behind Leblanc-Bazinet, out of the far right in Lane 1, Myers devoured her line of barbells in quick succession. Squinting her eyes, she caught each attempt in a deep squat, leapt over her final barbell and stopped the clock at 1:29.9, just three-tenths of a second after the reigning fittest woman on Earth.
Before the regional, Myers’ only goal was to have fun; she never dreamed she’d win an event, much less qualify for the CrossFit Games.
“For me, this year is about building a solid foundation and gaining competition experience,” Myers said two weeks before the South Regional. “Regionals will be all about soaking in this amazing opportunity and having fun, while giving it my all.”
Event 7 Results
1. Amanda Goodman (1:21)
2. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (1:29.6)
3. Maddy Myers (1:29.9)
4. Margaux Alvarez (1:53)
5. Tiffany Hendrickson (2:03)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (650 points)
2. Margaux Alvarez (572 points)
3. Amanda Goodman (557 points)
4. Jenn Jones (539 points)
5. Maddy Myers (478 points)