With the 2019 CrossFit Games kicking off tomorrow, athletes from across the globe are preparing to put it all on the line for a chance of winning the ultimate bragging rights: The Fittest on Earth.
For some, this year's CrossFit Games will be a chance for redemption, and for others, a test of fortitude, courage, and tenacity. Regardless of the goal, let's take a few minutes to meet the 2019 CrossFit Games Athletes.
In recent years, we have seen several athletes transition to the Masters division.
Notables include Sam Briggs of the UK, and Aletha Boon of New Zealand. As the teenage athletes (like Haley Adams) grow into the individuals divisions, so will we someday see an older, wiser Rich Froning graduate to the ranks of Masters athletes.
It is within these ranks that we find doctors, bankers, farmers, and retirees. In the masters field we find parents and grandparents setting aside their daily routines for a chance to show their families and supporters what they are truly capable of.
While the young bucks get most of the glory, the Master athletes stand primed and ready. Being a Masters athlete, myself, I love to watch these men and women compete. While their coverage isn’t always the strongest, they certainly prove that they are.
So this week, it’s time to give them some much deserved attention.
Without further ado, let’s meet the top Men and Women Masters finishers of the Online Qualifiers, competing in the 2019 CrossFit Games!
As a quick reminder - the top 200 finishers in the CrossFit Open from each division advanced to the online qualifiers, and the top ten from there were invited on to the 2019 Games. You can read all about the changes to the 2019 CrossFit Open format here.
Nicholas Uranker is new to the Masters Division, but is certainly no stranger to the CrossFit Games.
Coming out of the highly competitive Central Regions, Nick had his best showing just last year in 2018, placing 20th. He is assured to bring the heat with big lifts and a million dollar smile. Nick is the owner of CrossFit 061, a husband and a father of two girls.
Ursula Fasel is no stranger to the Masters division. Coming from CrossFit Turicum, this will be her second year competing at the CrossFit Games in this age category. Ursula competed in the CrossFit Games in 2017 where she placed 9th in the 35-39 division, and proved she could hold her own against big names like Rebecca Voight and the ever impressive Kristan Clever.
“Usually, I follow The Program Daily and train about 90 minutes per day next to my full-time job, which is not a lot compared to my competitors. In Games preparation I have reduced my office job to about 80%, in order to increase my training volume and train twice a day. I love Games prep training, as it is very diverse.”
Ursula holds a Masters degree in Psychology and enjoys a fruitful career with the prestigious ‘Credit Suisse’.
“I manage a train/work/life balance with optimism as well as with setting priorities and limits. It is not always easy and in extreme situations, one or the other might fall short. Fortunately I have a great and supporting social environment, in my private as well as in my professional life.”
After the Games, Ursula is looking for to a cold cider or an Aperol-Spritz and vacation in NYC with her boyfriend.
Tony Kurz graduates this year to the 40-44 division for the first time with an impressive 4th place ranking, worldwide. Though Tony has made an appearance at the 2014 and 2018 Regionals, the 2019 Games will be Tony’s first year competing on the floor as a CrossFit Games Athlete.
Tony hails from CrossFit PR Star in Virginia.
Deana Posey will also be taking the stage for the first time in 2019. From CrossFit Indestri, this wife and mom has an amazing team of coaches and community cheering her on.
“Training for the Games is definitely challenging with a family, full time job, and a small child who is in a lot of programs. I am very lucky to have family close by that helps out a lot. Otherwise, I do my best to make it work and it doesn’t always. I also commit to traveling 2hrs to train with my coach once a week. My main focus for the Games has been on strength and skills. As a master, it is very hard to stay healthy, eat well, and not get injured. I have had a few things happen the last 2 months. Hopefully they will not affect me too much on game day, but that’s part of the risk of high-level sports.”
Dee shares that, “Qualifying in first place puts a pretty big target on my back, so I do my best to stay focused on me and not the other competitors. I really try to ignore the things I can’t control and make the best of the things I can. I believe in hard work paying off but I also wish for a lot of luck for those things I can’t!”
Justin Lasala (US) hits the Games turf for his third consecutive year. A former National Pro Grid League athlete, Justin is truly a stellar athlete coming straight out of CrossFit Garwood.
Justin says, “The struggle is real, balancing everything. The easy part is doing the work. Managing your recovery and sleep is no easy task, especially as an older athlete and that can’t be overlooked.
I also tell my athletes to be patient. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I think that refocusing on quality of movement is a game changer. There’s a huge difference being able to do a muscle up and doing them correctly and efficiently.
I also suggest when following any programming (MISFIT, CompTrain, Invictus or whatever) - you need to make adjustments that apply to you. All of these companies are programming for the masses and they don’t know what YOU need. So making adjustments to help fix your weaknesses is extremely important.”
Jolaine Underschute’s third place finish in the 2018 CrossFit Games was the highest she has placed in the five years she has qualified, so far. Jolaine is not only a Masters athlete but is a masterful athlete. Her gymnastic skills compliment her sensational lifts making her a force to be reckoned with.
Owner and Head Coach from Endeavor Fitness CrossFit Invermere, Jolaine is a clear favorite to take the gold in her division. At just 5’1”, Jolaine is the epitome of small and mighty.
“I’m super excited to make the top 10 this year,” she says. “There is always doubt that I might not qualify. Silly me!”
“Training has been a real struggle this time. I was sick for the entire month of June. My body has been breaking down, and I have a chronic shoulder issue that no one really can diagnose - making it difficult to snatch, clean, swim or OH Squat. My hip and calves keep seizing up which means no running or jumping, and I'm just getting over a stomach flu. I was thinking I might not be able to compete this year...
My life is mostly work and training. I own a small affiliate in a rural mountain town so I work double shifts and train for about 3 hours, 5 days per week. It’s tough sometimes but I do love what I do. I need to find balance...one day!”
Gregg Geerdes was recently dubbed as one of the “Notable Ones to Watch from the Open” by Chad Schroeder of Morning Chalk Up and we can see why.
With back-to-back CrossFit Games invites, this husband and father out of China is impressive, to say the very least.
This will be Belinda Halcrow’s first trip to Madison for the 2019 CrossFit Games.
Coming all the way from Australia’s CrossFit Active, this wife and mother has been training hard and is ready to rock the competition floor.
Kurt Stein heads back to the competition floor this year. In 2015, Kurt placed 12th as a CrossFit Games Athlete in the 50-54 division. This husband and father also has the support of CrossFit Rage keeping him moving toward the gold.
Kurt shares that he is currently training five days a week, about 2-1/2 hours a day. On one of his rest days, he swims.
Kurt says, “Balancing work, family & training is hard, but my wife is very supportive. My day begins at 5:45 when the alarm goes off and I am out of the house for my 1-1/2 hour commute. I leave work around 5:00 and get to the gym at 6:30. I leave the gym around 9:00 and we have dinner at 9:30. By 10:30-11:00 we are in bed and hopefully asleep before 12:00. The hardest part about training is walking in the door every day. There are a lot of family sacrifices from no date nights, vacations are planned around CrossFit. After the Games I will sit down with my family and see if we continue with this rigid schedule.”
Kurt’s advice is to make sure your spouse/significant other supports your goals.
“To reach the highest level as a Master you need to strength, WODs & accessory every training day and possibly you will have to do it alone. You need to keep your eye on the long range goal and not rush things. The journey is long with more bad days than good, but can be very rewarding.”
Laurie Meschishnick is not just a CrossFit Games Masters athlete, she’s a legend.
This 5 times CrossFit Games athlete from CrossFit Saskatoon is a phenomenal competitor. In 2018, Laurie placed 2nd in the 50-54 division and is sure to be a crowd favorite. Laurie is easy to spot on the field -she’ll be with one with the brightest smile and a helping hand.
“People always ask how I’m able to keep training so hard. Not sure what they consider hard but.... the training part is the best part. Love it. What I have to work at is eating enough, sleeping enough and mobility so that recovery is on point. That’s likely why I love the training. I take care of the “other things “ that are not glamorous or exciting but so important.”
Laurie shared with me, “I trust my programming with Synergy Strength and Conditioning. My job there is to show up, get done what’s on the whiteboard being my best. I’ve got a supportive group of stellar athletes/friends who don’t let me slack off. They keep me sharp. I’m ready for whatever CFHQ brings to Madison."
“I cannot forget getting regular chiro and massage keeps me balanced. I have Rheumatoid arthritis so all the pieces need to be in place to be my best. I’m very grateful for the disease, which may sound weird, but I’ve come to understand how amazing our body is if we treat it well.”
Paul Perna was recently recognized by The Morning Chalk Up for his outstanding Open performance - and it’s very obvious why. With an amazing 24 points in the Open, Paul has set himself ahead of big names like Dave Hippensteel and Cal Cherrington.
Coming out of CrossFit 1st State, this husband and father is an extremely humble man. He considers himself lucky to be able to compete with his peers. Paul will certainly be one to watch.
When you think of Masters CrossFit athletes, one of the first female that should cross your mind should be the amazing Susan Clarke.
Hailing from CrossFit Vancouver, Susan has accumulated 3 first place finishes in each of the 3 years that she has been a CrossFit Games Athlete. Can she make it 4? If Susan’s staggering 5 total points in the Open is any indication, the CrossFit community is in for one heck of a show!
They say that you should never meet your Heroes. All this week I got to meet several of mine, both as a masters athlete and also as a CrossFit enthusiast. During our online chats I was brought to tears, and humbled. I appreciate the tenacity and the fight of the Masters athlete.
What surprised me the most was that these Masters athletes are just like any CrossFitter in your hometown gym. They have people that depend on them. They have careers. They are sore and tired. The WOD’s are tough, and against all odds, they push through. They persevere in the face of adversity no matter what's going on in their personal lives or in their own bodies.
It’s all put to aside to pull out all of the stops on that competition floor.
Masters athletes, elite or otherwise, those that are in the gym and those that are in the garage gym, young and not so young; we stand together in CrossFit. We are each empowering, confident, capable, and humble. CrossFitters are a different breed of athlete.
The Masters athletes prove, time and time again, that, like a fine wine, CrossFitters only get better with age.
Masters Athletes, you are, as the kids say... #goals!
Makes sure to tune in to the 2019 Games coverage this week for all of our CrossFit athletes.
Not sure how to watch? You have a few options.
This year, the CrossFit Games have shifted to an open-source broadcast, giving you more ways than ever to watch athletes compete. Rogue will be covering and live streaming all events - here is the link where you can read all about it.
The Morning Chalk Up has also announced a 3x daily show giving athlete analysis, inside story coverage, and more.
Whether you're watching in Madison or from your living room - cheer on the young and the old, those newer to CrossFit and those that are covered in the scars of a decade of box jumps and double-unders. Know that at one point they were just like you - watching their heroes battling it out in the sun and rain. And that you too are capable of achieving great things...
You, my friend, are a CrossFit athlete!
Disclaimer: WODprep is not associated with CrossFit® in any way and opinions are separate from the CrossFit® brand.
Sarah is a sci-fi loving, CrossFitting wife, mother of five and step-mother of six. (Oh, yes, you read that right. That's eleven AMAZING kids!) Sarah currently resides in Texas but this former military family has been all over the country. Sarah has been an avid CrossFitter for three years and trains out of her garage gym.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.