June 29, 2012
South West Masters
By Neal Leitereg

Masters competitors representing the South West.

"Life is a WOD,” Masters competitor Mary Beth Litsheim says. “Sometimes grueling, sometimes quick, sometimes heavy, sometimes light and furious, but no matter what, it is always about finishing strong!"

Men, women and teams are preparing for the upcoming competition that will crown the athletes who have proven themselves worthy of the title Fittest on Earth™. However, they aren't the only ones training. There is a competitive group of Masters athletes gearing up to take part in this year’s Games.

Eight men and five women powered and persevered through the Open and will represent the South West.


Steve Parsoneault

Parsoneault of Flatirons CrossFit in Boulder, Colo., says he is proud, relieved and honored to be on his way to the Games this year after falling short a year ago. The 49-year-old engineer was introduced to CrossFit in 2008 and credits his fitness as the gateway to some of his current hobbies, including ice and rock climbing.

Parsoneault battled through back and hamstring injuries during the early part of the year to qualify for the Games. In addition to his normal CrossFit routine, he swims, hikes, runs and climbs in preparation for the big show.

Brett Wilson

A former professional athlete, Wilson of CrossFit 801 in Midvale, Utah, admits he was not in the best shape during the Open this year. He did not want to over train or peak. A previous Games competitor, the 58-year-old has been doing CrossFit for four years and recently opened his own gym, Tekton CrossFit, in April.

Looking ahead to the Games, Wilson says he’s gearing his training to peak in July, and tweaking his diet with high fat and high carbs in the months leading up to the competition. His does multiple workouts, two or three days per week. "[I] love competing in the Masters,” Wilson says, “not because I am competitive, which I probably am, but because I love celebrating life through health and fitness.”

Dennis Cole

Despite a bicep tear that required surgery four months prior to the Open, CrossFit Apollo's Cole managed to finish 18th overall in his Masters division, including a pair of third place finishes.

The 51-year-old says he was in the worst shape of his life before being challenged by his daughter to try CrossFit in 2007. He credits a bit of luck as one reason he is going to the Games this year. To get ready for the competition, Cole has dedicated himself to getting his strength back and is working out at least twice a day, four to five days out of the week.

Gene LaMonica

CrossFit SoCo athlete LaMonica, from Colorado Springs, Colo., makes for a great story. The 46-year-old physician is constantly on call, which wreaks havoc on his training schedule. He was suffering from a bout of pneumonia during 12.1, which put him at a great disadvantage. However, LaMonica persevered and pushed through to stamp his ticket to the Games by closing out 12.4 and 12.5 with a second and first place finish, respectively.

In terms of training, LaMonica says he is trying to get as much in with his busy hospital schedule as possible.

Scott Olson

Front Range CrossFit's Olson will be making his third trip to the Games after leading the pack as the first-ranked qualifier in this year's Open in the 60-plus Masters division. The 60-year-old recently suffered a complete tear of the top outside bicep tendon in one of his arms, but has since been cleared for competition by his orthopedic surgeon.

His daughter, Kristen, introduced him to CrossFit. She will compete at the Games as an affiliate team member for Front Range CrossFit. In anticipation of the upcoming competition, Olson is working out five to six days a week, incorporating Olympic lifting and skills training.

Jim Fitzsimmons

Fitzsimmons of University of Nevada-Reno CrossFit says this year's Open was a challenging for him. However, he says he feels it proved to be a good assessment of his strengths and weaknesses.

The 45-year-old, who is a full-time faculty member at the University of Reno, and moonlights as a part-time police officer, has been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury. However, he says his physical therapist to his recovery and hopes his shoulder will hold up at the Games.

Leading up to the competition in July, Fitzsimmons says his training is generally strength targeted, but he has been transitioning to daily workouts and practicing a few gymnastic techniques as July approaches.

Jim Duwve

Duwve, a 51-year-old athlete, took ninth place overall at the 2011 Games. He says his biggest challenge during this year's Open was remaining healthy. He is limiting some of his training due to a shoulder injury and a prior knee surgery.

His Brazilian Ju Jitsu instructor in 2005 introduced Duwve to CrossFit. He says he is hoping to use his experience and knowledge gained over the last year to earn a top finish at the Games.

Gordon Chase

CrossFit Tempest in Scottsdale, Ariz., is home to Masters competitor Gordon Chase. Chase was surprised to qualify for the Games this year. He says a few of the Open workouts were not in his wheelhouse. The 61-year-old expects heavy lifts will be his biggest obstacle at the competition, but he has been working on getting stronger by incorporating Olympic lifting, along with technique work into his training.

A bit of a youngster in the CrossFit world, having just celebrated his first year at CrossFit Tempest, Chase is looking forward to taking part in his first Games.

Greg Walker

Walker is the defending champion from the 60-plus Masters division. Learn more about Walker, from CrossFit Northwest Tucson, here.


Becca Hartley

Hartley, of CrossFit Eaton in Colorado, says her Open experience was as much a test of her athletic abilities as it was of her anxieties. "I knew I would be 19th, 20th or 21st, so I did some nail biting at the end,” she says.  

Hartley, 58, finished 20th to secure her spot at the Games in the 55-59 Masters division.

She joined CrossFit with a very limited athletic background. Four years into CrossFit, she is now focused on improving her basic workouts and admits she is trying to be more coachable during training sessions. She hopes to set an example for other women her age. "I think if I can compete, then anyone can," Hartley says.

Tracy Maceachern

CrossFit SoCo's Maceachern powered through the last two workouts of the Open to secure her spot at the Games. The 47-year-old is a former competitive figure skater. She says finding time for her CrossFit training can be difficult due to her schedule as an emergency medicine physician. However, Maceachern says her trainers, Gene and Niki LaMonica, to help stay on course as July approaches.

In terms of programming, Maceachern sought out former Olympic lifter Paul Fleschler to help her with her lifting and overall technique, while also zeroing in on capacity, aerobic endurance and general weight lifting.

Dee Jones

CrossFit Initiative athlete Jones won’t let an ailing shoulder stand in her way of the Games. The 67-year-old was able to make her way through this year's Open thanks to a team effort by the Reno medical team to get her back on the workout track. She finished 18th overall.

Her son, who owns CrossFit Initiative in Reno Nev., introduced Jones to CrossFit. She has been CrossFitting for more than three years and is currently working with her trainer to develop a game plan for when she heads to California.

"I used to go into a regular gym, and after working out for an hour, left feeling like I hadn’t done anything," Jones says. "I have never had that experience with CrossFit."

Becky Walker

Walker of CrossFit Northwest Tucson is making her second consecutive Games appearance. She finished this year’s Open ranked 13th overall in the 60-plus Masters division.

Walker is a 61-year-old athlete who had never done much weightlifting before CrossFit.  She was introduced to CrossFit by her daughter who owns Northwest Tucson. Walker says the workouts help her get stronger and more energized.

“I was fortunate to participate in the 2011 CrossFit Games and had a blast," Walker says. “The Master's 60-plus women were strong, friendly, outstanding women, and I was proud to be a part of the group."

Mary Beth Litsheim

Litsheim, who lives in Grand Junction, Colo., and trains at CrossFit RED, won her age division last year at the Games. She has been CrossFitting since 2010. The 51-year-old athlete has a huge support team of trainers and coaches, as well as a medical team helping her prepare for the Games.

“The future is optimistic and I am prepared to succeed with a smile,” she says.