Ben Bergeron’s East Coast Championships

Jamie Shane
Photographer: Marie-Lyssa Dormeus

East Coast Championships

The second annual East Coast Championships hosted some of the best athletes of the sport this year at the Boston Trade Center. With a $22,000 purse, we saw over 25 Games-level competitors come out and give a great showing. Hosted by Ben Bergeron and CrossFit New England, this annual competition is only planning to get bigger and stronger.

“I wanted an event that was for the spectators,” says Bergeron. “Games are always on the west coast, and this was a chance to see the superstars of our sport in action on the east coast. It was an incredible success. My staff worked hard to prepare for the event, taking care of every detail. It was an enjoyable time for us all.”

Competitors like Talanya Fortunato, Rachel Martinez, Stacie Tovar, and Lindsey Valenzuela came out to lead the female competition. Matt Fraser, Tommy Hackenbruck, Austin Malleolo, and Chris Spealler led the pack for male competitors. Each of these athletes faced a series of fun and challenging WODs as the one-day competition took off.

4J3A9395WOD 1, “Ropes and Ladders” started at 8:30 Saturday morning. With a combination of shuttles and 15-foot rope climbs wrapped up with a quick sprint, competitors had just 2 minutes to knock it out before moving on to the more challenging WOD 2.
Kevin Montoya of CrossFit New England finished in an impressive 55.4 seconds. Rachel Martinez, also of CrossFit New England, blew through the ropes and ladders in only 1 minute 8 seconds.

As they moved directly into WOD 2, “Heavy Handstand Walk,” Matt Fraser came to play, crushing the combination of 50-foot Handstand Walks, Power Cleans, Toes to Bar, and Overhead Squats in 5 minutes flat. He was closely followed by Tommy Hackenbruck, who took an additional 50 seconds to master the WOD. Female competition was close, with Talanya, Rachel, and Lindsey finishing within 40 seconds of one another.

“We put WODs 1 and 2 back to back for a reason,” notes Ben. “WOD 2, which was primarily a test of strength and skill, would become more metabolic. This also helped us eliminate transition times between heats, making for a smoother event.”

Athletes had some time to rest as they approached WOD 3, “The Triplet.” Three rounds of Chest to Bar, Lateral Burpee Broad Jumps, and Back Squats waited. Stacie Tovar hit her stride here at 5:52, followed closely by Rachel Martinez who finished 2 seconds later! Talanya, anexpected leader, fell back to fourth place. Once again Matt Fraser dominated among the men, coming in first with an impressive time of 5:20. Hot on his heels were competitors Charles LeDuc of CrossFit Reebok Yul and Austin Malleolo, both finishing within seconds of the leader.

_MG_0168-2At this point, we were beginning to see signs of fatigue in the competitors. It was a long morning. WOD 4 started at 2:30 and then marched straight into the Finals. So far, there was a steady performance from the top athletes, with only a slight variance in times. Only the top 24 men and top 24 women would be allowed to compete from here.

“Programming was designed to be a good spectator experience first and enjoyable for the athletes,” Ben states. “It is, of course, a good test of CrossFit fitness, but we are not trying to be the Games and find the fittest on earth. We are not trying to test every domain. We are trying to make it a good show for the spectators, so that they can tell who is in the lead and see the race. We are also trying to keep the volume down so the athletes aren’t smashed the following week and missing training.”

WOD 4, ”The Axle Snatch,” comes with a 5-minute time cap to execute 30 heavy Wall Balls followed by 3 rounds of Axle Snatches and Overhead Walking Lunges. This is where we saw how Bergeron’s simple programming combined with the long day was affecting the athletes. Many of the top performers put up a dismal showing in this WOD, with previous men’s leaders such as Spealler and Malleolo coming in 8th and 21st. The women performed much better, with Talanya Fortunato and Lindsey Valenzuela executing the WOD quickly and flawlessly, both with times just over 3 minutes.

Moving into the Finals, the rankings were as expected. Fortunato, Martinez, and Valenzuela led the women. Fraser, Hackenbruck, and Malleola led the men. “The Kill Cliff Final”—WOD 5—was the longest WOD so far, with a 20-minute cap.

For the women, this meant 4 rounds of 5 Muscle-Ups and 50 Double-Unders followed by 40 Deadlifts, followed by 30 Front Squats, 20 Shoulder to Overheads, and 10 Thrusters at a weight of 105 pounds. The men had to execute the same lineup, with an additional 2 Muscle Ups and a weight of 155 pounds. Valenzuela put up an impressive time of 11:24, followed closely by Tovar at 12:48. Chris Spealler crushed the WOD in 12:08, followed by Matt Fraser at 12:25. This WOD was a steady push to stay focused and dig deep through four rounds of basic skill work.

Team competition ran on Sunday, and some of our most notable names chose only to participate in these events. Rich Froning, Guido Trinidad, and Adrian Conway were among those who teamed up. Teams had only 4 WODs to complete, and they didn’t disappoint.

Team Froning-Spealler-Akinwale-Tovar dominated all but the first WOD, coming in a dismal 9th place. The seemingly simple combination of Toes to Bar, Dumbbell Snatch, and Hurdle Sprints created a close race, putting Team Dirty South (Fortunato, Friedman, Olden, and Trinidad) into a fast first place. They were quickly followed by Hack’s Pack, a team featuring Conway, Erke, Hackenbruck, and Janowitz, who finished the WOD just a few seconds behind.

As the games continued, these three teams mastered all the remaining WODs, eventually taking the top three places on the podium. Between them it was a close race, with a mere 3 points determining the difference between Froning’s team placing first and Team Dirty South placing second. The winning team donated their $5000 purse to The Kevin Ogar Trust. A class act for sure.


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