As we look ahead to Regionals, some of the elite few are focusing on the next steps in competition, and many of us are shifting back to our familiar roles as spectators and fans of the Sport of Fitness.
I changed things up a bit in this final report card. Rather than giving letter grades, I assigned fun, senior yearbook-style superlatives with an added pop-culture twist.
This year’s Open was chock-full of herculean efforts and inspirational performances. Hats off to everyone who participated in the five weeks of the Fitness Inquisition 2017 Open.
The LL Cool J “Don’t Call It a Comeback” Award
This award goes to the two athletes who battled their way back into a Regionals qualifying spot. The circumstances of their comebacks are vastly different, but both are now ready to “take this itty-bitty world by storm, and they’re just getting warm.”
Lindsey Valenzuela: To say the last four years of competition for Lindsey Valenzuela have been eventful would be a massive understatement.
The second-fittest woman alive in 2013 failed to qualify in 2014, bounced back to finish seventh at the Games in 2015, and then took 2016 off to give birth to a baby boy in May. Valenzuela has been open about her incredible journey, from gaining nearly 85 lb. during pregnancy, to giving birth via C-section and ultimately working her way back to Regionals—all within a year’s time.
She finished 14th in SoCal in the Open. Mama said knock you out.
Jeff Evans: The Open is not Jeff Evans’ strong suit. Since qualifying for the CrossFit Games in 2014, Evans has had a difficult time guaranteeing himself a shot at returning.
In 2015, Evans missed Regionals after he finished 35th in the Open in the South East. Last year, he had to wait for an additional round of invites to get to the Atlantic Regional.
This year, Evans put himself in a sizeable hole from the start by finishing 66th in 17.1. Despite the deficit, Evans finished 19th overall in the South East and will be invited to compete at the Atlantic Regional in June.
The Roger Murtaugh “I’m Getting Too Old for This …” Award
Every year the teenagers of the CrossFit world give us a glimpse into the future of competitive CrossFit.
The accomplishments of these two award winners give credence to the phrase “the future is now.” Seeing how ridiculously fit they are reminds me of my favorite Lethal Weapon cop’s trademark phrase.
George Sterner: The marquee matchup in the Teenage Division at the 2016 Games was between George Sterner and Nicholas Paladino. Their performances had everyone wondering how long it would take for the two to carry their rivalry over into the individual competition. The answer: not long.
Sterner finished fourth in North Central in the Open at just 17 years old. He won 17.3 in his region with a time of 18:17, a time that also happened to be the fifth-best time worldwide! He will be in the final heat to start Regionals, and it would be amazing to see him hold onto a top position.
Haley Adams: Sixteen-year-old Haley Adams may not even have to wait until she graduates to make the Games. Adams is in her first year (yes, you read that right) of competing in the 16-17 Division, but she finished the Open 10th overall in the Mid Atlantic for the individual women.
Adams finished the Open in her division with just 6 points. She beat out individual Games athletes in Workouts 17.2 and 17.5 (Christy Adkins, Alea Helmick, Whitney Gelin and Meg Reardon, to name a few).
The “Rule #76: No Excuses. Play Like a Champion” Award
Pretty simple and straightforward. If you’re looking for sympathy, you won’t find it here. These athletes perfectly embody everyone’s favorite Wedding Crashers rule. Save feeling sorry for another day; there’s fitness to be had.
Lindsay Hilton: According to American investor and financial executive Charles Schwab, “The best place to succeed is where you are, with what you have.”
Schwab’s words describe Lindsay Hilton as an athlete. Hilton was born without all four of her limbs, a seemingly massive deficiency that would result in an otherwise sedentary life for most. But Hilton has seen it as an opportunity to adapt. She has taken the hand that was dealt to her and used it to play rugby and train CrossFit.
Hilton competed in the Open, and her Instagram is full of amazing videos of her living an active lifestyle. She showcases just how much people with physical differences can accomplish through effort and persistence.
Jeff Owejan & Crew: One of my favorite videos that came to our desk during the Open was a compilation of Command Master Chief Jeff Owejan and a handful of his sailors performing 17.1, 17.2 and 17.3 in the hangar bay aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
Owejan and his crew were deployed in the South China Sea and still found a way to get their workouts in despite having a less-than-ideal setup. A handful of them were certified judges, and seeing all of them jump, lunge, and snatch alongside helicopters and fighter jets made the kid in me giddy.
They even got some who weren’t registered to take part, which speaks to the strength of the fitness community they built for themselves while fulfilling a bigger, much more important purpose than competitive exercising.
The “Young Whippersnapper” Award
Every time I scour the Masters Leaderboard, comparing the top scores to mine, it makes me feel like Happy Gilmore fighting Bob Barker. Back in the day, they had to walk 20 miles to the gym, uphill, both ways, which explains why these Masters athletes are so fit!
Patty Failla: I think the R&B artist Aaliyah (RIP) said it best: “Age ain’t nothing but a number.” Grammar and original intent of the phrase aside, I think Patty Failla’s Open results put a new twist on the quote in regards to the physical capabilities of athletes well into their sixties.
Failla had the lowest point total of any Masters athlete across all divisions. She won three of the five workouts in her age group and never finished lower than fifth. I think what struck me most about her performance was her 17.5 score.
In a society where many of her peers struggle with the ailments of chronic disease, seeing a 60-year-old woman do 90 thrusters and 350 double-unders in 10 minutes is a nice reminder that we possess all the keys to our own health and fitness, no matter our age. It also inspires the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of me.
The Cersei Lannister “SHAME!” Award
News recently broke of Trevor Bachmeyer’s ridiculous attempts at cheating the system to falsify his Open scores.
Bachmeyer knowingly cheated with malicious intent. He purposefully deceived the community in an attempt to bolster his reputation and improve his rank on the Leaderboard. I simply don’t understand why a grown man would go to such great lengths to lie about his fitness level.
I’m proposing that whoever validated his scores is required to stand behind him during every workout and ring a bell chanting “SHAME” with every rep.