2012 Regional Preview: Northern California

By Leah Lutz on 01.15.12

Less than one month until the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games Open registration, and the Northern California CrossFit community is excited and ready for the season. With our long history of CrossFit, its beginnings in Santa Cruz, three years of the Games at the Ranch in Aromas, and the deep field of competitors here, Northern California is an incredible place to experience the stages of the competition season.

The many 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games competitors from Northern California are all gunning for the Games again this year.  Blair Morrison, three-time Games competitor, finished 5th in the 2011 Games.  Having previously qualified from three different regions, he is well known in the CrossFit world for his focused and unusual training. Powerhouse Jason Khalipa, four-time Games competitor, winner of the 2008 CrossFit Games and the CrossFit Spirit of the Games in 2009, is returning to this Games season as a force to be reckoned with, and there is no question that he will fight for the top position.   

Gabe Subry and Neal Maddox, both going for a third year at the Games, are in intense Games training mode, and they plan to go all the way. Into this already imposing and seasoned field of competitors, steps in long-time CrossFitter and three-time Games competitor Pat Barber. Moving back from New Zealand to open a new affiliate, Pat “Manimal” Barber is known for his tenacity in training and competition.

The reigning women of Northern California represent the broad range of NorCal CrossFit competitors. The original “Nasty Girl,” and undeniable crowd favorite and inspiration, Annie Sakamoto (CrossFit Spirit of the Games in 2011), is focused on a return to the Home Depot Center. She will have to battle Hawaii’s Elyse Umeda, a two-time Games competitor and winner of last year’s Regionals, and the new and on fire Jenny Lebaw, who generated huge buzz at last year’s Games. Well-known CrossFitters Miranda Oldroyd, from the South West, and Taz Venter, from New Zealand, now call Northern California their home and are sure to add to the already very tough field of NorCal women. 

The NorCal roster is deep, replete with talent, guts, and ability, and none of the NorCal athletes vying for those coveted Games qualifications can afford to take the Open and the Regionals lightly. Competitors like Chyna Cho, who barely missed a Games slot last year, Laurie Galassi, a collegiate gymnast who has been focusing on strength, collegiate swimmer Ashley Vrieze, big man Shaun Eagen, wild card Zack Height, and crowd favorite Joey Warren, are all seasoned challengers who want their place on the NorCal Regional podium this year.  

With a region so steeped in CrossFit as Northern California, who knows who might spring onto the field this year? Unknown talent is emerging all over the place, and boxes in the region are eager to see their newest firebreathers compete with the best throughout the Open and Regionals.

With such depth of skill and experience here, it is no surprise that the Masters field is just as stacked as the men’s and women’s ranks. Northern California will be watching the work of the many Masters athletes who placed in the top 10 of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games: Heidi Fish—two-time CrossFit Games runner-up, Freddie Camacho—a Masters favorite, Chris Kulp—a runner-up in 2011, Mark Rosen—3rd place in 2011, Steve Pollini, Charm Mathis, and Deirdra Rogers.

We can’t forget the teams in the CrossFit Games, and Northern California teams never disappoint.  Leading the charge is TJ’s Gym, featuring Danny Nichols, the beast who turned in a 325-pound thruster at Regionals last season. CrossFit Rocklin, led by one of the top individual finishers in the Open—Chad Augustin, and Diablo CrossFit, a tight-knit, well-oiled competition machine. Along with East Sac, Brethren, and Lalanne, the NorCal Team competition will mirror the Individual for intensity and excitement.

In the words of Galassi, herself a strong contender for one of the three Games slots, “If you want a shot at the CrossFit Games, don't live in NorCal.” The Northern California region is just that tough.