“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”- Robert Frost
Jay Crouch's Quiet Comeback and the 2023 Season that Almost Wasn't
Australian Jay Crouch has been in the game for a long time–the six CrossFit Games appearances under his belt are evidence enough for that.
But the 24-year-old from Reebok CrossFit Frankston has been in the space for 11 years, since he was 13-years-old. His career has stretched out over two decades and, according to Crouch, it’s all been leading up to the Games this year, which he says was the most proud moment of his career.
Always a factor in the men’s division but never having broken through into the top ten, Crouch came out of the 2022 season frustrated. Especially after winning the Torian Pro Semifinal event to qualify for his third individual Games appearance, then coming to Madison only to place 28th overall, Crouch felt uninspired looking at the season ahead.
“I was pretty close to giving it up. Just making a decision based on emotion,” Crouch said. It was the hardest challenge he’s faced this far in his career. “But I quickly shook it off and bounced back better. This impacted me in a big way for sure. Realizing it’s a crazy roller coaster of emotions and you can turn it around at any point in time.”
Reinvigorated for the 2023 season, Crouch came out with a bang, finishing 13th worldwide in the Open, second in Oceania Quarterfinals, and took the win again at the Oceania, Torian Pro Semifinal. He was on a roll.
Going into the Games, Crouch says his preparation was perfect. He came to the United States three weeks before competition kicked off to acclimate to the sweltering heat (as opposed to the middle of winter temperatures back home), and said that the training environment at the PRVN camp was second to none. Plus, he had a new mindset heading into the Games: no expectations.
“This year, I knew I had put in a lot of hard work to do well. What that looked like on the leaderboard, I almost didn’t really care,” Crouch said. “I trusted that the good result would follow without focusing on it.”
Whether he was looking at the leaderboard or not, Crouch finished the season with a personal best finish of eighth place overall. He says that his execution for each of the events was generally very good, having two years of individual experience already. His best finish was the first event of the competition, “Ride,” right up his wheelhouse with a background in mountain biking.
However, more than his personal execution and fitness, Crouch points to his support team as the main reason for his success at the Games.
Crouch: “My support system during the Games is all the awesome coaches at PRVN and my girlfriend Maddie Sturt with me (during the) behind the scenes,” Crouch said. “They played a huge part in keeping me dialed and having fun in the process.”
Go deeper: Check out this recent interview with Crouch on “Fitness with Friends” on the Talking Elite Fitness YouTube channel.
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The Rogue Invitational “Q” Update: Although not official yet (pending reviews and penalty adjustments) the Rogue Invitational “Q” leaderboard is now live. Here are the athletes currently (likely) in qualifying positions:
Victor Hoffer | Dani Speegle
William Leahy IV | Sydney Michalyshen
Ricky Garard | Tayla Howe
Travis Mayer | Manon Angonese
Giorgios Karavis | Elena Carratala Sanahuja
Resilient: The Untold Story of CrossFit’s Greatest Comeback: Brooke Wells’ book, Resilient, the story of her injury at the 2021 CrossFit Games and her incredible comeback in 2022 will be released in January 2024, but it’s available for pre-order now.
And stay tuned to this space, the Morning Chalk Up will publish an advanced review of the book soon.
🙌 🏆 Congratulations to Born Primitive: The fitness apparel brand loved by CrossFitters was recently named to the “2023 Inc. 5000,” an annual list of recognizing the fastest growing private companies in America. The brand’s inclusion on the list highlights its impressive 290% revenue growth over the past three years.
CrossFit Athlete Jessi Kuhlman Uses TikTok to Spread Body Positivity
When asked about being a role model for young women, newly-crowned 2023 Fittest Woman on Earth, Laura Horvath said: “It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m just very happy that my body can do this.”
“And I’m not looking at the new “Barbie” movie, ‘Oh, I want to look like that.’ I want to look like what I look like. And I just want to prove that my body, whatever it looks like, can do these amazing things,” she continued.
These words no doubt resonated with Jessi Kuhlman, bringing a smile to her face.
USA Functional Fitness to Host First Collegiate Competition
USA Functional Fitness is set to host its first “Collegiate National Functional Fitness Championship” competition in February 2024, a move the non-profit hopes to put them on the map as the national governing body of functional fitness.
The competition will offer individual and pair divisions for any athlete 25 and under who is enrolled in a degree program at a US college or university, according to Gretchen Kittelberger, president of the International Functional Fitness Federation. Athletes competing in the pairs division must attend the same school.
Remind me: The USA Functional Fitness Federation is a member of the International Functional Fitness Federation, which strives to “promote and grow functional fitness as a competitive sport in the US,” according to its website.
This competition is a big starting point for USAFF, which is hoping to be recognized by the International University Sport Federation, a global sport engagement organization, and earn a spot at a future World University Games.
USAFF plans to provide several universities/colleges, who have functional fitness or CrossFit club programs and have assisted with the initial idea of this event, guaranteed entry to the pairs competition including: Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Naval Academy, West Point, University of Cincinnati, University of Miami, University of Ohio.
The remaining spots for the pairs competition is on a first come, first served basis and is open to the general public who fit the requirements.
“We’re also doing an individual division, but that is going to be an online qualifier and then we’ll take a small group of individuals to the live final,” said Kittelberger.
“But we wanted to really kind of focus on the pairs because we thought that was a little more fun for the collegiate age and the schools felt they had people that were more interested in the team side of it.”
At the completion of the competition, one school will be crowned the National Functional Fitness Champion. Individuals will compete in six different categories, including endurance, strength, body weight, skill, mixed and power. Within each of those categories athletes can expect to see CrossFit-like tests, said Kittelberger.
“If you didn’t know any better, and you were just looking at it, and you watched it, you’d be like, ‘Oh, it looks like a CrossFit competition’, right. But what we do in terms of format is we have a little bit of structure,” she said.
There will be an Rx division and scaled division, where athletes earn points for their school and gain points for a podium position. Rx athletes will earn more points than scaled divisions will for the same placing, according to USAFF.
The bottom line: Whether an athlete is signing up as an individual, or as a team, this move by USAFF is a good start for the sport of functional fitness and for CrossFit to be recognized on a national level. Athletes can sign up now.
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