CrossFit Games

Hungrier Than Ever: CrossFit OBA Looks To Make A Name For Themselves In 2023

April 19, 2023 by
Credit: Olivia Grace Productions (@livbehindthelenses)
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While CrossFit OBA might be relatively new to the CrossFit leaderboard, its members are no strangers to the sport of fitness. With a combined 37 Opens, 13 Regionals, 8 Games, and 5 Semifinal appearances between the four of them and no one on the team under the age of 32, the members of CrossFit OBA have come together to form one of the most experienced teams in the 2023 field.

Lacing back up their shoes: In 2020, Kelsey Kiel left the sport of fitness to go join the USA Bobsled team. After two back-to-back Games appearances with Team Invictus Boston, she was ready for a new challenge and her incredible strength and explosive power made her the perfect candidate to push the nearly 370-pound bobsled down the track.

But she couldn’t stay away from CrossFit for too long. Two years later, she walked through the doors of CrossFit OBA, where she met Joey Tortora, who had similarly taken the past few years off after finishing 5th with Central Beasts in 2019. The two of them decided it was time to step back onto the competition floor and set about assembling their team for the 2022 season. Together, alongside Ashleigh Wosney and Nicklas Hecht, the team had a breakout year placing second in the Granite Games and eleventh at the Games.

Refining their roster: This year, the team isn’t playing around anymore. After barely missing the top ten by two points, CrossFit OBA has had a taste of the top and they’re ready for more. After Wosney left to pursue individual competition for the 2023 season, Kelsey Kiel knew they needed someone just as fit and fierce to take her place.

  • This year, we thought let’s see if we can find someone else who is incredibly fit,” said Tortora.
  • “So Kelsey reached out to Emelie [Lundberg], who was in the same position as us,” he continued.

While not as seasoned as the others in team competition, Lundberg is still well versed in the sport of fitness. With a 16th place individual finish at the German Throwdown in 2021 and a 10th place individual finish at CrossFit Strength in Depth in 2022, the 33-year-old finished 51st worldwide in the Open and 15th overall in Europe. 

Learning from last year: With one of the fittest women in Europe now on their roster and a year under their belt, CrossFit Oba is ready to push forward into the 2023 season and take forward everything they learned from last year.

  • [Last year], it was just figuring out the team chemistry and figuring out that communication is key for us to work together,” said Kelsey Kiel.
  • “I think the biggest thing we learned last year is that we’re exceptionally fit and we just need to trust ourselves when it comes to certain things,” Kiel continued.
  • “Each of us is in a different spot,” chimed in Nick Hecht. “For example, Joey and I each have families we’re raising.”
  • Because of our experience and our age, we were able to be more vulnerable and open to each other a lot more and communicate better. Not just on the competition floor, but as individuals, and that helped mold that season. I think that it made my first experience at the CrossFit Games so much easier,” Hecht added.
  • “Last year, I learned that we deserved to be there and we deserved to be in the top ten. This year we deserve to be in the top 5, if not stand on the podium,” he concluded.

The 2023 Season: This year, CrossFit OBA has big expectations for themselves. After their surprising finish last year, they came blazing into the 2023 season, with two top ten finishes in the Open and team Quarterfinals.

  • “Last year, I had no idea what to expect,” said Hecht.
  • “But after being in the midst of the Games and competing against all these high-level athletes who have done it for so long and so well, I realized by day 3 that we deserve to be here,” he continued.
  • “This year we have Emelie,” said Tortora. “She’s like the Terminator.”
  • “She’s a badass and fits our thought process and our team so well,” he continued.
  • “That combined with our experience last year kind of catapulted us to this place where we were able to do Quarterfinals and do ‘one and done’ on workouts,” Tortora added.
  • “We’re coming to the Games this year and we’re going to make sure people remember Team OBA,” Tortora said. “We’re going to make some splashes.”

Looking forward to Semifinals, the team is continuing to train hard, but in a bit of a different fashion than last year. With Emelie currently overseas and busy schedules amongst all four athletes, finding the time to train together can be quite difficult. Instead, they’re spending more time focusing on their individual weaknesses and building their fitness to create an unstoppable force on the competition floor.

  • “After seeing the Semifinals and Games last year, I agreed with my coach going into the next season that I needed to work on my weaknesses,” said Kiel.
  • “I know that if I do my job and work on my weaknesses, I’ll be a better teammate,” she continued.
  • “We’ve got the communication down when we’re working together and doing synchronized stuff,” Kiel added.
  • “When everyone does their job, it just makes coming together so much easier and we know if we take care of our fitness and get as fit as possible for when Emelie gets here, we’ll be ready.”
  • “This year we were a little skeptical and nervous because Emelie living in a different country made it tough to train together,” added Hecht.
  • “But she came here and day one, we were so in sync, it was wild,” he continued. “Last year it took so many months to get to that point.”
  • “Because of that, our approach can be different, because now we can just hammer our own individual weaknesses and make sure there are no gaps in our game,” he concluded.

But apart from their individual training, CrossFit OBA knows the importance of coming together as one both on and off the competition floor.

  • “I think the one thing for us is that we care about each other outside of the gym,” said Kiel.
  • “Right now, I feel like less of my self-worth is tied to my performance on the floor. When we come off the floor, I know my team is still going to care about me and love me regardless of my performance,” she continued.
  • “Even if we have a bad day, we’re just going to learn from things, grow, and get even stronger as a team,” Kiel concluded.

This incredible bond that CrossFit OBA has formed in the past year combined with their maturity and insatiable hunger for the 2023 season is what has already catapulted CrossFit OBA to the top of the Open and Quarterfinals leaderboards.

  • “I think we’re hungrier than ever before,” said Kiel. “Last year was Nik’s first time as a team and we went in not really sure. Now we know for a fact that we deserve to be there and people should be worried about us taking their spot,” said Kiel.

“We’re not even in our final form yet. I like where we’re at and I like where we’re going.” Tortora added.

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