May 14, 2015
Tommy's Team Pick Week 1: Hack's Pack

By Tommy Marquez

The two-time Affiliate Cup winning team makes its return.

Hack’s Pack is back!

The affiliate that won the Affiliate Cup at the 2012 and 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games will return after taking 2014 off. That affiliate is Ute CrossFit Sugarhouse and its owner is none other than six-time Games competitor Tommy Hackenbruck.

Hackenbruck has put together a new pack in 2015. He and Taylor Richards-Lindsay are the only remaining athletes from the 2012 and 2013 teams. He has filled the other four slots on the roster with athletes who have succeeded both individually and on their affiliate’s other team—the Ute All-Stars—that joined Hack’s Pack at the Games in 2013.

I believe Hack’s Pack will take the win at this weekend’s South Regional in Dallas, Texas, so take the time to get to know the athletes that will surely destroy the events.

Mandi Janowitz, Jacob Hutton, Taylor Richards-Lindsay, Tommy Hackenbruck, and Brennan Fjord

Tommy Hackenbruck

Hackenbruck first appeared at the CrossFit Games in 2009 and cleaned house with a second-place overall finish behind Finland’s Mikko Salo.

He went on to compete in the Games every year since then, totaling four appearances in the individual competition—2009, 2010, 2011, 2014—and two appearances in the team competition—2012, 2013. The fact that he has stood on the team and individual podiums at the Games makes him distinct from all other male Games competitors with the exception of CrossFit Omaha’s Kyle Kasperbauer.

You might recall Hackenbruck loading his barbell with 400 lb. in the overhead squat ladder at the 2014 Games, or running down the field with the sprint sled and 100-lb. cylinder like they were nothing. Hackenbruck remains one of the best in the game when it comes to handling a barbell or odd object, which he attributes in part to his time working in construction.

My point is that he’s an incredible athlete and leader. If I could pick anyone to lead my imaginary team to the Games, it would be Hackenbruck. 

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2009 -- -- 2nd (Last Chance Qualifier) 2nd (I)
2010 -- -- -- 9th (I)
2011 15th 203rd 2nd (T) 23rd (I)
2012 30th 568th 1st (T) 1st (T)
2013 4th 127th 1st (T) 1st (T)
2014 1st 11th 1st (I) 6th (I)
2015 11th 199th -- --

Brennan Fjord

Fjord first appeared in CrossFit competition scene in 2012, but he didn’t catch many people’s attention until last year. In 2014, he finished every Open event in the top 10 in the South West Region and went on to take seventh overall at the 2014 South West Regional.

The 27-year-old athlete from Sugarland, Texas, developed his athleticism and strength on the football field, playing defensive back for the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. He possesses a ton of explosive power—330-lb. power clean, 550-lb. deadlift—and a solid gas tank (he and Hackenbruck took first and second on the 50s chipper at the 2014 Regional).

Fjord finished this year’s Open in fourth in the South West. Fourth! Let’s just say the individual competitors at the South Regional will rest easier knowing Fjord isn’t in the individual competition. For now.

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2012 83rd 1,380th -- --
2013 32nd 728th 15th (I) --
2014 2nd 23rd 7th (I) --
2015 4th 152nd -- --

Jacob Hutton

It’s easy to toss out the label “freak” when talking about high-level CrossFit athletes these days; so many athletes have incredible numbers. But Hutton's strength number are on another level.

The 29-year-old athlete has a 620-lb. squat, 300-lb. snatch, has a 1,145-lb. New CrossFit Total—a 1-rep-max clean, 1-rep-max overhead squat, 1-rep-max bench performed in 90 seconds—and still can lead on workouts that usually go to Spealler-like athletes. He took seventh place on 15.2, the ascending ladder of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups, with 331 reps (which means he got into three-quarters of the ways through the 20s) and has set the top score in the South West Region on 14.1—10 minutes of 30 double-unders and 15 75-lb. power snatches, 13.4—7-minute ladder of 135-lb. clean and jerks and toes-to-bars, and 13.1—17-minute ladder of burpees and ever heavier snatches.  

Hutton has qualified for the individual competition at the regional the last three years, taking seventh in 2013 not long after he started CrossFit. He withdrew from the 2014 Regional due to a neck injury, and this year declined his individual invite in order to compete with the pack.

I expect he’ll turn heads on the 1-rep-max snatch Saturday, and generally provide solid support for his teammates.

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2013 21st 509th 7th (I) --
2014 15th 509th WD --
2015 10th 221st -- --

Mandi Janowitz

Janowitz competed in the individual competition at the 2014 Games, taking 26th overall. The year prior she helped the Ute All-Stars qualify for the 2013 Games where the team finished in 16th.

Last summer, Janowitz shined in the Triple 3, Muscle-up Biathlon and Sprint Carry events, finishing in third place on all three. A couple months prior, she set the second-fastest time of any female athlete in the world when she finished the 10 legless rope climbs and sprints in 4:28.

Before CrossFit, Janowitz was a collegiate heptathlete.

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2012 92nd 1,216th -- --
2013 6th 64th 3rd (T) 16th (T)
2014 1st 23rd 3rd (I) 26th (I)
2015 8th 124th -- --

Taylor Richards-Lindsay

“Tee Rich” first appeared in CrossFit competition in 2011, months after giving birth to her daughter, Aleeyah, she qualified for the 2011 South West Regional, won it, and then took 27th at the 2011 Games—all while breastfeeding.

Richards-Lindsey is the only remaining teammate from the 2012 and 2013 Affiliate Cup winning “Pack,” and you could say she’s a team player to her core. She opted to return to the Hack’s Pack team in 2013 for a chance at back-to-back Affiliate Cup titles, despite being the only female in the South West to finish every 2013 Open workout in the top 10. Before CrossFit, she played basketball with the Utah State Aggies. We missed her last year because she was pregnant with her second daughter, Avery, who’s now 5 months old.

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2011 2nd 34th 1st (I) 27th (T)
2012 8th 148th 1st (T) 1st (T)
2013 3rd 39th 1st (T) 1st (T)
2014 666th 10,406th -- --
2015 80th 1,261st -- --

Keslie Roberts

Roberts has the least decorated competition history of any of the athletes on the team, but don’t write her off. She has experienced team competition at the Games—where she, Janowitz and the rest of the Ute All-Stars took 16th overall—and has made dramatic gains in her own fitness over the last 12 months. Between 2013 and 2014, she climbed 202 spots in the Open on the South West leaderboard. The same woman who got 210th in 2013, got eighth in 2014. She had an average Open workout finish of 99th, but never finished lower than 128th nor higher than 67th. That narrow of a spread in the most difficult Open yet tells me is she is a well-rounded athlete who can be consistent across six different tests.

Year Open (South West) Open (Worldwide) South West Regional Games
2012 260th 3,201st -- --
2013 131st 1,978th 3rd (T) 16th (T)
2014 210th 2,960th 8th (T) --
2015 53rd 886th -- --

Why They’ll Win

Hack’s Pack athletes have a tremendous amount of experience, athleticism and confidence. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team with more competitive experience than the Ute crew. Six collegiate athletes, 13 combined appearances at the CrossFit Games and seven of eight have been on the regional stage before. Its three competing men might be the strongest in the entire team competition and could easily pass as stunt doubles for Arnold & Co. in the movie “Predator.” The support they get from the rest of the brUTE Strength Training Crew, including former Hack’s Pack member-turned-coach Michael Cazayou, includes programming, endurance and weightlifting coaches, a nutritionist and mobility coaches. Toss in some benefits from higher-elevation training and it would be hard to find a better environment to cultivate an Affiliate Cup winning team. Which is why Ute will be undoubtedly be a favorite to win the South Regional and the Affiliate Cup for the third time.

Event to Watch
Team Event 2
175 snatches (75 lb./55 lb.)
25 rope climbs
115 thrusters (115 lb./75 lb.)

Expect Hack’s Pack’s three men to set a blazing pace on the snatches, allowing the three Ute women to get onto the competition floor for their set of snatches with a nice lead over the other teams. From there, expect the men to do their part and finish their rope climbs and thrusters fast enough to ensure the women won’t be stuck waiting behind them.

It will come down to the speed and pace of the three women during their rope climbs, which will be a nice platform for Janowitz and Richards-Lindsay to showcase their athleticism.

Predicted Top 5 at the South Regional

1. Hack’s Pack (Ute CrossFit)
2. CrossFit The Club: This team won the 2014 South West Regional and quietly won back-to-back events at the Games—the Team Relay and Frantasy Land—en route to an extremely impressive seventh-place finish overall.
3. OPEX Red: The team’s roster includes Danny Nichols—the man who thrustered 325 lb. at the 2011 NorCal Regional for TJ’s Gym—plus three women who each finished 33rd or higher in the Open in the South West this year.
4. Backcountry Black (Backcountry CrossFit): This team took 15th overall at the 2014 Games and it includes two women who have competed in the individual division at the CrossFit Games: Becky Conzelman and Emmalee Teribery.
5. East Valley CrossFit: This team took 30th at the 2014 Games. Last year, they were the only team at the 2014 South West Regional to finish in the top 10 in every event. 




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