Tola Morakinyo is Healthy and Ready to Put On a Show During West Coast Classic
This week, some of CrossFit’s biggest names will descend upon Las Vegas to compete in the West Coast Classic. Their goal will be to finish the weekend in the top five and book a trip to the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. Underdogs Athletics’ athlete Tola Morakinyo will take part in the competition while trying to reach Madison for the first time as an individual, and he will defend Las Vegas in the process.
Remind me: Morakinyo is a three-time CrossFit Games veteran as a team athlete. He competed with Reebok CrossFit Back Bay in 2017, CrossFit Invictus Back Bay in 2018, and Invictus Boston in 2019. The team’s career-best finish at the Games was ninth in 2018.
Shifting gears: Following his time in team competition, Morakinyo packed his bags and headed west. He joined coach Justin Cotler in Las Vegas. Morakinyo then kicked off the 2021 season by placing 230th in the Open (North America) and 37th in the Quarterfinals. He also turned in a performance that includes the fastest time in Event five, a blistering 1:48.
- “I’ve been working just with Justin for almost two years now,” Morakinyo said. “And hadn’t really gotten a chance to work with him in person. But I’ve known him for maybe five, six years at this point. So we’ve got a lot of trust going on there.”
- “And when him and Kari (Pearce) moved out here, especially with how tough it’s been on the East Coast, and Boston, New York City, you know, all those places with regards to COVID. It was just the right choice for me at the right time.”
Teamwork makes the dream work: With so many athletes and an all-star coach in Las Vegas, there is no shortage of experience and talent. Each person brings a different skill to the table — whether it is Pearce, Bethany Shadburne, Danielle Brandon, or Matt Dlugos among others. Having them working together just creates an environment where the athletes can work together and continue to grow.
- “To have a group that I get to train with every day, really, there’s nothing like it. I think there’s a few kinds of camps right now in the US. You’ve got your Mayhem squad and you got your group in Nashville and CompTrain. I think you’re going to see in Semis that the athletes in those groups are going to really thrive.”
- “I think we have a really cool training dynamic because with everyone we have, I mean, we have someone who’s the best or like top three to five in the world,” Morakinyo explained. “Even with super balanced workouts, we get to strategize them in completely different ways. And it’s fun to watch that play out.”
- “And also just to know that, okay, the best person in the world is going to go this fast on this thing. How do I make up time throughout the rest of the workout? Or how do I pace so that I’m not more than this amount behind that person? Especially with Matt, on the machines and Kari with gymnastics. Just great tools to really elevate everyone’s game.”
Home turf: Morakinyo will now join several big names in Las Vegas for the WCC. He will face off with Noah Ohlsen, Alec Smith, Spencer Panchik, Cole Sager, and Sean Sweeney, just to name a few. Performing better than these athletes will not be a simple task, but he will have a slight advantage due to competing in Las Vegas instead of having to travel.
- “I think they really call it like home-field advantage,” Morakinyo said. “I’m excited. I mean, whichever Semifinal I got, I was just hoping it was going to be one that was in person. I feel like I’m better able to showcase my abilities in live competitions. I don’t know if it’s just the atmosphere or kind of the way the workouts change more to that execution-style workout.”
- The execution workouts that Morakinyo references are those that Events 1 and 5 from the Quarterfinals with high reps and little room for error. “Your higher-level athletes can handle that capacity. And it’s all about who’s got the best game plan and who makes the least mistakes,” he explained.
The game plan will be critical for Morakinyo as he strives to reach the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games. Each athlete has a different set of skills and will shine in different workouts. Morakinyo specifically mentioned long-distance runs as something where he may not perform as well as other athletes. However, he can take the heavy lifting events and “put them in his back pocket” as a strength.
- “And I think that (awareness) is a really important tool to have, especially getting back into live competitions with Semifinals coming up,” Morakinyo explained. “Like looking at the weekend or the workouts as a whole and kind of understanding where you’re strong and where you need to put more of your focus.”
The bottom line: The Underdogs Athletics crew will have home-field advantage during the West Coast Classic due to living in Las Vegas, but this will only be part of the winning formula. Morakinyo will still have to perform at the best of his abilities during the three-day event in order to secure a spot in the top five and reach Madison for the first time as an individual. If Quarterfinals is any indication, he is ready to put on a show.