Laura Horvath Takes Down Six-Time Champ Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr, Pat Vellner Tops Rogue Invitational

October 29, 2023 by
Photo Credit: @avakitzi
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After four grueling days of competition, Pat Vellner and Laura Horvath emerged on top at the 2023 Rogue Invitational in Austin, TX..

To earn the title, Vellner bested the reigning Fittest Man on Earth Jeff Adler and bronze medalist Roman Khrennikov, while Horvath took down the six-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr in historic fashion, as this is the first time Toomey-Orr has lost since the 2016 CrossFit Games, where she was second.

(Considering Toomey-Orr just had a baby in May, it’s remarkable she was even competing, but Horvath’s win proves Toomey-Orr is beatable).

How it played out: At the start of the day, five of the six podium positions were still very much up for grabs. The only spot that looked secure was Vellner, who had a 90-point cushion over second place Adler, but after that, only 25 points separated Adler and Travis Mayer in seventh. 

On the women’s side, at the start of the day 20 points separated Toomey-Orr and Horvath, and 20 points separated Emma Lawson and Gabriela Migala in third and fourth. 

The women: The first two events of the day only made it tighter on the women’s side. 

  • Horvath beat Toomey-Orr on Event 7—an event featuring the Echo bike and some odd objects—picking up an event win in the process, but Toomey-Orr came right back and bested Horvath on Event 8, an event with 36-inch box jumps and handstand walking. This meant they would enter the final event tied in points in the top spot. 
  • The battle for bronze was a similar story. Migala passed Lawson on the leaderboard after Event 7, but Lawson came right back and tightened the race by beating Migala by just one spot on Event 8. They, too, entered the final event tied in points in the third place position.

Because of the weather, the final event—a double-under and heavy clean sprint event—was moved inside, creating an intimate environment that looked more like a local throwdown, but the performances didn’t disappoint.

  • In the winner takes all situation, Horvath looked poised and confident from the get go, as if there was no doubt in her mind how this was going to go. She finished her last set of double-unders six seconds ahead of Toomey-Orr, giving her enough time to log a clean and jerk rep before Toomey-Orr even got to her barbell. And when Toomey-Orr failed her first clean and jerk rep, Horvath soared through for the win.
  • As for the battle for bronze, it was the 18-year-old Lawson who won the head-to-head battle against Migala. Lawson ended up passing Toomey-Orr during the final five clean and jerk reps, finishing second in the event and third overall, while Migala finished sixth in the event and fourth overall.

The men: Other than Vellner, no position on the men’s podium was safe all day.

  • Khrennikov went into the day in third, and after manhandling the odd objects and Echo Bike in Event 7 (placing second overall), he passed Adler (temporarily) and moved into second. But immediately after that, Khrennikov was humbled on Event 8. He finished 14th and dropped to fourth overall heading into the final event.
  • Event 8 was more kind to Adler and Fikowski, who entered the event in third and fifth respectively. The top scores all belonged to men in the first heat, so their eighth and sixth place finishes helped them gain ground on the two men they needed to gain points on: Khrennikov and Jayson Hopper, who was sitting in fourth after Event 8. As a result, Adler moved back into second, Fikowski jumped into third, and the Canadian men went into Event 9 sitting one, two, three. 

Twenty points separated Fikowski in third and Hopper in fifth going into the final event of the competition, and the five men in the final heat put on a show. 

  • All three Canadians and Khrennikov were within a couple seconds of each other throughout the event. In fact, all four got to their barbell to complete the final five clean and jerks within nine seconds of each other.
  • But it was Adler who managed to power through the final five lifts the quickest, with Khrennikov close behind, followed by Fikowski and then Vellner. But Dallin Pepper’s time from the previous heat fell between Khrennikov and Fikowski, leaving the Russian and the Canadian in a points tie for third. 

The result: Vellner first, Adler second, and Khrennikov—who took the tie-break because he had an event win—third.

The big picture: Though it’s only the start of the 2024 season, their wins have to be seen as huge confidence boosters for both Vellner and Horvath in their quest to win it all this summer.

For the veteran Vellner, a five-time CrossFit Games podium finisher, it’s about showing that he can finally take the top spot, even against the next generation of men.

  • “I don’t want to walk away. I want to be displaced. So until that time, (the other competitors) better keep trying,” Vellner said after his win. 

And for Horvath, it’s about proving to herself that she is as good as Toomey-Orr.

  • “It means a lot, because to be honest, after the Games everyone said, because Tia wasn’t here, that is the only reason I won. This means a lot to me to prove to myself, and to everyone out there who had doubted me, that I won because I deserved to be on (the top of) the podium,” she said.

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