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CrossFit Teens On Balancing School and Training

Morning Chalk Up

April 18   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • CrossFit teens talk the rigors of balancing school and training
  • 22 Questions with Canadian podium finisher Brent Fikowski
  • Convoluted Quarterfinals to Semifinals path complicates backfill spots
  • First take on the Syndicate Crown semifinals seeding
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“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” - Henry David Thoreau

  CrossFit Teens, Homeschooling and Isolation: “Every minute was spent on training or homework”  

CrossFit Teens, Homeschooling and Isolation: “Every minute was spent on training or homework”

The CrossFit teen population is growing, both in numbers and popularity, as more and more of them, as well as teen division alumni make waves in the individual ranks each year. There’s also a growing pressure for young athletes to sacrifice a great deal for a spot on the CrossFit Games floor.

The problem?

CrossFit teens are putting all their eggs in the CrossFit basket, and the motivation to sacrifice prom and football games and pizza for extra hours in the gym can wear off when you’re left with rowing intervals and four hours of homework on a Tuesday night.

Emma Cary

That’s exactly what 2021 CrossFit Games 16th place finisher Emma Cary experienced for almost all of high school. Throughout most of her young life, Cary has dreamt of becoming a pediatrician alongside being an elite CrossFit athlete. That has meant taking an extremely heavy course load in high school in addition to the blood, sweat and tears it takes to be the Games champion at 15-years-old in the teen division and an elite athlete at 16-years-old.

Looking back on it now after graduating high school, Cary recognizes the hardships of her school experience.

It was 6 am to after midnight multiple days a week. It wasn’t something that occasionally happened, it was common. I didn’t feel good, and I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted,” Cary said. It was an extremely strenuous situation for the teenager, going so far as to affect her recovery and sleep.

“Every minute was spent training or doing homework. Even while I would eat, I would do homework. There was just no time to relax, sometimes no time to even stretch or recover my body. It was like, I can sleep or I can stretch, and right now I need to sleep. It was tough.”

While looking forward to her senior year, which she had blocked out with her schedule as a more “fun” year to soak in the high school experience, Cary decided in the summer of 2021 to complete the year online. Although it was a hard choice, setting aside her dream of becoming a doctor for now, Cary knew that in order to go all in on training for the CrossFit Games this was a necessary decision.

“Nothing could make me feel like (CrossFit) does, that’s just a whole new level of passion, that’s what I truly love to do. I found that I might have to sacrifice other dreams for that and that’s okay.”

Cary finished her senior year a semester early while doing online school, which she says was extremely beneficial for her training schedule and lifestyle. It was the first time she felt independent from school, she said, and it gave her freedom to control her time as she saw fit.

In addition, as she saw improvements on her CrossFit game, Cary learned the valuable lesson that having too much on your plate can make the quality of your output decrease, but when she put her energy into one specific focus, she could be her very best.

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In case you missed it, Lauren Kalil, the host of The Bottom Line, spoke to Tyler Watkins and Brian Friend about if CrossFit can grow through predicting performance?

Adaptive CrossFit for Kids is an initiative we can all get behind. Check out these two kids absolutely crushing it in Wilmington, DE. Talk about inspiring.

  • “All things are difficult before they become easy!”

Mat Fraser is back on the Nashville Dads Club with a hilarious skit about Mutant Conditioning.

Amanda Stoker has a book out, called Train the Mind, Heal the Heart, which details her CrossFit journey and how she developed mental toughness and emotional weakness at the same time.

  22 Questions with Brent Fikowski: Ozark, TV On The Radio, Kawhi Leonard and Hot Dog Eating Contests  


22 Questions with Brent Fikowski: Ozark, TV On The Radio, Kawhi Leonard and Hot Dog Eating Contests

Known as “The Professor,” Canadian Brent Fikowski climbed back to the upper echelon of the sport this past season at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games, finishing third and getting back onto the podium for the first time since 2017.

Fikowski is known for his intense attention to detail when it comes to all things CrossFit. But who is the man with the plan off the competition floor?

He is a new father, and of course, still gunning for that elusive title. So what makes the man with the gigantic CrossFit brain tick, we decided to find out, and asked 22 questions, in accordance with the year, to let you know who the man behind the man with the plan is.

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  Convoluted Quarterfinals-to-Semifinals Path Complicates Potential for Backfill Invitations  

Convoluted Quarterfinals-to-Semifinals Path Complicates Potential for Backfill Invitations

Included in CrossFit’s Email of the Day for April 15 is an article that details Important Dates for the CrossFit Games Season.

This is excellent and definitely something athletes, coaches, managers, media, and fans want and should have.

One thing that jumps out though is the timeline for athletes who have to choose among registering between multiple divisions in the period from Quarterfinals to Semifinals; specifically in cases when an athlete has qualified as both an individual and in their age group. Let’s take a look.

Remind Me: This year athletes who qualify for multiple Semifinal stages are only permitted to participate in one of those (Individual, Team, or Age Group). This means that following Quarterfinals they have to make that decision. However, because those three Quarterfinal stages take place on three different weekends that span just over a month, and as invitations for Individual Semifinals have been sent out, Age Group athletes were left unsure of what to do.

Many of them reached out to CrossFit and received communication in response suggesting that they can accept and register for their individual Semifinal and then after the Age Group Quarterfinals they can choose to revoke that in lieu of an Age Group Semifinal.

  • Jenn Ryan, a Masters athlete that qualified for Individual Semifinals: “I reached out to CrossFit Games support and Kurtis Bowler the day we received the email invites to confirm the situation.”
  • She explained: “After the age group quarterfinals, once we receive (if/when) our semifinals invites, we can then rescind the Granite Games or whichever Semifinal we accepted for. I don’t know the timeline bc we weren’t told that. It’s kinda tight for sure. I would assume they’ll backfill at that point.”

Though this allows the affected age group athletes more time to make their decision, a closer look at the timeline provided by CrossFit presents a new challenge.

Potential Timeline of Events: 

  • April 13 CrossFit Individual Semifinal Registrations Due
  • April 21-23 Age Group Quarterfinals
  • May 6 Age Group Quarterfinals Leaderboard Finalized
  • May 10 Age Group Semifinal Registration Opens
  • May 20 Week 1 of Individual Semifinals Begins
  • May 23 Age Group Semifinals Registration Ends
  • May 27 Week 2 of Individual Semifinals Begins
  • May 26-29 Age Group Semifinals (14-17; 35-49)
  • June 2-5 Age Group Semifinals (50-65+)

The middle portion of the above schedule exposes a potential conflict due to how late the registration window for Age Group Semifinalists begins and ends relative to the first couple weeks of Individual Semifinals. While we don’t know for sure what the backfill process is, if there is intent to round out the finals to 30 for Individual Semifinals, the timeline to do so is extremely narrow for backfill athletes and the semifinal event teams hosting them.

Who are the Age Group athletes that have qualified and accepted invitations to Individual Semifinals by week?

There are a total of 18 masters athletes, and 1 teenage athlete, who meet these criteria, here they are broken down by week, age, Semifinal, and Open placement.

Week 1 (May 20-22) Masters Athletes:

  • Joelenne Neville, 36 years old (Torian Pro), 79th in the Open
  • Carrie Freestone, 39 years old (Torian Pro), 131st in the Open

Week 2 (May 27-29) Masters Athletes:

  • Hayley Murillo, 35 years old (MACC), 28th in the Open.
  • Kelly Clark, 35 years old (MACC), 28th in the Open.
  • Jason Smith, 38 years old (Cape Town), 23rd in the Open.
  • Mary Jamieson, 39 years old (Cape Town), 196th in the Open.
  • Tammy Taylor, 38 years old, (Cape Town), 505th in the Open.

Week 3 (June 3-5) Masters Athletes:

  • Ram Dover, 35 years old (Far East), 32nd in the Open.
  • Anatolii Borisenko, 35 years old (Far East), 259th in the Open.
  • Dema Zebdieh, 36 years old (Far East), 72nd in the Open.
  • Maryam Zanbagh, 38 years old (Far East), 37th in the Open.
  • Hajer Jamal, 35 years old (Far East), 125th in the Open.
  • Yuko Sakuyama, 35 years old (Far East), 9th in the Open.
  • Rebecca Voigt Miller, 41 years old (Granite Games), 7th in the Open.
  • Jenn Ryan, 42 years old (Granite Games), 2nd in the Open.

Week 4 (June 10-12) Masters/Teen Athletes:

  • Michelle Palmer, 37 years old (Atlas Games), 25th in the Open.
  • Emma Lawson, 17 years old (Atlas Games), 1st in the Open.
  • Ioannis Papadopoulos, 35 years old (Strength in Depth), 9th in the Open.
  • Andreia Pinheiro, 39 years old (Copa Sur), 169th in the Open.

Of these 19 Age Group athletes, 11 of them finished in the top 40 of their division in the Open. Only the top 30 athletes from each age group division will advance to the Age Group Semifinals, so there’s a real possibility that many of these athletes do in fact qualify for the next round of competition. And if they do, what then?

Why it matters: To qualify for the Individual Semifinal round as an age group athlete is incredibly impressive, and giving athletes the opportunity to qualify for both divisions is not particularly problematic in itself. However, the logistics involved in allowing athletes to register in more than one Semifinal are very important, and the implications of those deadlines have a ripple effect beyond just the age group athletes making the decision. Whether it’s the event teams trying to plan for a specific number of and names of athletes, or the backfill athletes and their support teams that are sitting in qualification-limbo until potentially receiving a last-minute invitation to Semifinals, the number of people affected is not small.

The big picture: The CrossFit community has voiced frustration over a number of issues already this year, between the invalid Quarterfinals scores, unchanged Semifinal payouts, unannounced rulebook changes, and international travel challenges; confusion over Semifinals registration can now be added to that list. For now, we can only hope there will be improvements as the field narrows, and to the competitive season as a whole in 2023.

  Convoluted Quarterfinals-to-Semifinals Path Complicates Potential for Backfill Invitations  

VIDEO: First Take on Syndicate Crown Semifinal Seeding

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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a highlight.

  • Lucy Campbell is putting in the strength work to prepare for the Lowlands Throwdown.
  • 🤸🏻‍♀️ Kari Pearce shows off her gymnastics background with burpee back tuck tumbling.
  • Congratulations Susie Fong from Hub City CrossFit in Albany, OR on the 171 pound/77.5kg overhead squat.
  • Congratulations Jason Watson from CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, CA on his first ring muscle-ups.
  • Congratulations Rodrick Lopez, Owner of Rolo Athletics in San Diego, CA, on the 245 pound/111kg thruster PR.
  • 😳 Handstand push-ups are hard enough… would you ever try handstand push-ups on a bar?
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