It was standing room only on the final day at the 2015 South Regional. Six people deep, fans pressed against the rails on all sides of the competition floor this morning to see which team would be named the South’s fittest—Kevin Ogar among them.
“It’s fun to pick out the athletes from my region and see how everyone stands up against each other,” Ogar said. “I used to only be able to watch athletes from other regions on the ‘Update’ show. It brings up the level of competition quite a bit.”
CrossFit HQ’s Tommy Marquez knew the answer a week ago when he predicted the 2012 and 2013 Affiliate Cup champion team Ute CrossFit would take the top spot.
The team did not disappoint. After seven regional events, the teams that will represent the South Regional at the Games are Ute CrossFit, CrossFit Lubbock, OPEX Red, Backcountry Black and CrossFit Jääkarhu.
“We’re going to the Games, bro!” Jacob Hutton of Ute CrossFit exclaimed. “Leading into this competition we didn’t train together as much as we would have liked, but we have good relationships and we work well together as a team. We are looking forward to buckling down and working together going in to the Games.”
For CrossFit Jääkarhu and CrossFit Lubbock, it will be their first Games appearances.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Nick Shelton of CrossFit Lubbock said. “We all knew we had the potential to do it.
“This is everything,” Ingrid Kantola of CrossFit Jääkarhu said. “We have an amazing coach that has coached many regional teams before us. … We have had a huge year, we have opened gyms, beat cancer and now made it to the Games. We are so excited to start training for the Games.”
Six years ago, muscle-ups were a rare skill among females on the CrossFit competition floor. Today, they were little more than an inconvenience as 38 out of 39 teams’ females completed all 50 total muscles-ups in Team Event 6’s mash-up of GHD sit-ups, muscle-ups and hang power cleans.
Going into the event, only 8 points spanned between fifth and third place, the difference between a qualifier T-shirt and a medal. Ute CrossFit and CrossFit Lubbock had the most room for error, sitting in first and second place with 455 and 407 points, respectively, with Backcountry Black, CrossFit Jääkarhu and CrossFit The Club bringing up third, fourth and fifth.
But it was Salt Lake City CrossFit and OPEX Red who had the most to gain. Sharing 353 points for sixth and seventh places, each had only 18 points fewer than CrossFit The Club, in the final qualifying spot with 371 points.
The women’s race belonged to CrossFit The Club, whose starting female Sheena Hammer, set a blistering pace on the GHD sit-ups that the women maintained throughout the event. When she reached the rings at 1:37, she did more than 15 muscle-ups solo, in sets of four before the team’s second female joined her. As the women neared the 50-rep mark, Hammer’s teammates turned away from the rings to don their weight belts, confident she could handle the final four reps.
While CrossFit The Club was the first to send a male to the floor, Ute CrossFit’s men were faster on the GHD and the rings. Maintaining its lead throughout the 50 hang power cleans at 205 lb., Ute CrossFit finished in 17:59.9 for an event win and record, beating the fastest time set at the Atlantic Regional earlier today by nearly a minute (12 Labours CrossFit Columbia’s 18:51.4).
More important than the race for first, however, was who would take the remaining Games-qualifying spots (second through fifth). With the overall standings for the bottom qualifying spots so tightly packed, a high event finish by a lower-ranked team could have a major upset on the overall leaderboard.
Stringing their muscle-ups into sets of 2 and 3, OPEX Red pulled apart from Salt Lake City CrossFit, which still had all their men on the rings by the time OPEX Red finished the event. But though OPEX Red managed to stay ahead of its closest competition, a runaway for third by JekyllHyde Blue rendered OPEX Red’s efforts null.
“We are all about the struggle—that's the story of OPEX,” said team member Erin Carter.
The team was looking forward the the final event, said Carter.
“We love handstand push-ups; we're all good at them,” she said. “We just want to lay our heart on the floor at this point.”
Finishing just 12.3 seconds after CrossFit The Club, JekyllHyde Blue’s third-place event finish bumped them to sixth overall with 437 points, placing yet another team between OPEX Red and a qualifying spot. Salt Lake City CrossFit’s 21st-place finish dropped the team to eighth overall with 398 points, 42 points from Backcountry Black, who moved from third to fifth with its 13th-place Team Event 6 finish.
“I'm optimistic, hopefully we do well,” Salt Lake City CrossFit team member Mane Masuisui said. “We're just gonna move as far as we can in that last event and do what we can."
CrossFit The Club’s second-place event finish brought the team from fifth to second overall with 466 points. Just 3 points separated JekyllHyde Blue and Backcountry Black, in the last qualifying position before the final event.
Team Event 6 Results
1. Ute CrossFit (17:57.9)
2. CrossFit The Club (18:33.9)
3. JekyllHyde Blue (18:46.2)
4. CrossFit Jääkarhu (18:50.5)
5. OPEX Red (19:30.3)
The weekend’s final event had the whole stadium seeing red: OPEX Red.
The new team from Scottsdale, Arizona, became the first team of the entire regional weekend to finish Team Event 7—a conga line of rowing, strict handstand push-ups, toes-to-bars, overhead walking lunges and static holds—within the 20-minute time cap, while also punching its first ticket to Carson, California.
Though the team began the final event in seventh place, two spots out of contention, its Event 7 time of 19:04.5 was good enough for first place and 100 points, bringing OPEX Red to third place overall with 535 points.
While other teams were faster rowers, OPEX Red was the most efficient on the wall, sending its first athlete to the toes-to-bars at 6:10. The team’s lead only increased as time went on, and they were the first to send an athlete to the walking lunges at 9:07. Though she struggled with her first lunge, getting a no-rep as her leg reached but her knee failed to touch, she could afford to take her time. JekyllHyde Blue, which began the event one place above OPEX Red in sixth, struggled to get its first athlete off the wall.
Just after the 14-minute mark, OPEX Red had two athletes on the finish mat and a third about to begin the lunges. She had less than 10 feet remaining by the time Backcountry Black, in second, sent its third athlete to the axle bar. JekyllHyde Blue’s second athlete hadn’t even begun his lunges.
By the time OPEX Red’s fifth athlete had finished, its final athlete was already done with his toes-to-bars and ready to lunge. Though the weight wobbled above his head, it never fell and he lunged unbroken to an event record and CrossFit Games qualification.
“This was a good one for us because it was a lot of individual work, and most of us have been individual competitors,” OPEX Red team member Jim Crowell said. “It was a heck of a learning experience as the first time (at regionals) for OPEX. You cannot underestimate team dynamics; little mistakes can cost you a lot.”
Unfortunately, that was the case for both CrossFit The Club and JekyllHyde Blue. Though both had been in qualifying positions before the event started, their ties for 21st and seventh places, respectively, knocked them down to sixth and seventh places overall.
Team Event 7 Results
1. OPEX Red (19:04.5)
2. #TeamDensity (CAP+2)
3. Backcountry Black (CAP+10)
4. Backcountry Blue (CAP+34)
5. CrossFit NOLA (CAP+67)
CrossFit Games Qualifiers
1. Ute CrossFit (628 points)
2. CrossFit Lubbock (541 points)
3. OPEX Red (535 points)
4. Backcountry Black (530 points)
5. CrossFit Jääkarhu (514 points)