August 1, 2013
The Teens Are Coming
By Chris Cooper

“This is what it’s all about, right here."

The Varsity competition at the Teen Exhibition could be a glimpse into the future of the CrossFit Games. On Sunday, athletes aged 15-18 competed in three events on the track.

In the first, athletes performed the same burpee/burpee pull-up/burpee muscle-up progression as the younger athletes did on Saturday. The older athletes quickly began to count off muscle-ups. 

Sara Sater was the first female to successfully get over the rings, but Delaney Dangerfield knocked off three before time expired. 

The young men were another story: Kevin Evans managed 18 burpee muscle-ups after 25 burpee pull-ups and 50 burpee jumps in less than ten minutes.

The second event saw a surprise: athletes were given nine minutes to reach a max clean, followed by one minute to achieve as many toes-to-bar as possible. The crowd massed, pulled by rumors of teen reaching the 300-lb. mark. It wasn’t an exaggeration: seven boys below the legal voting age cleaned more than 250 lb. 

Six girls cleaned more than 150 lb. Many CrossFit gyms can’t boast those same numbers.

Calista Papakalos power cleaned 205 lb. to take the event, and Jesse Llopis finished with a 305-lb. clean after catching 315 in the bottom of the squat three times, but failed to stand it up. For perspective, that’s three cleans at 315, 20 minutes after completing 93 burpees and in under nine minutes. 

Llopis just does CrossFit.

“It’s a natural progression of my training. I try to keep everything even. I try to keep everything in tip-top shape,” Llopis said. “I don’t leave anything untouched.”

CrossFit Kids focuses on movement first, and the technique element appears to be making all the difference for these teens. While adults may miss heavier lifts because their form deteriorates under load, these teens miss with good form. That means a simpler fix, and faster progress.

The third event was a 21-15-9 ‘Fran’ lookalike, with wall balls instead of thrusters. Llopis hammered home in 4:01, stayed standing, and moved immediately to cheer on his rivals. He finished with four points – two event wins and one second-place finish – and took top spot.

Mattie Rogers secured her overall win with a solid third event. Her 5:01 time was 87 seconds faster than the next fastest, and she beamed for the next half hour.

The teens sat together in the shade, collected their ribbons, and then did something that the adults don’t—they played. They coached one another on walkovers. They did back flips on the grass turf and one helped another get his first bar muscle-up. 

“This is what it’s all about, right here,” said Jeff Martin, Co-founder of CrossFit Kids.

Success leaves clues, and the spirit of fun and exploration taught by CrossFit Kids is producing incredible results. 

“I’ve been competing in CrossFit for three years, but I’ve been in the gym forever. My dad opened CrossFit Sacramento and I’d go in when I was eight,” Llopis said. “CrossFit was my jungle gym. I’d hang out and then just go to work with the others.”

He adds: “My goal is to make it to Regionals next year.”

A community built on fun and competition. It doesn’t get more CrossFit than that.