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Team from Wilmington prepares for the Crossfit Games

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Summer Olympic Games are now in full swing, but a team of local athletes is training for a different kind of games — the Crossfit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.

Steph Simmons, Brynn Carrick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Quinn Robinson from Crossfit Reignited in Wilmington beat out thousands of teams worldwide for a spot in the Crossfit Games, which start next week.

It’s a competition to crown the ‘Fittest on Earth,’ and it tests athletes in a wide range of events.

“It’s a lot — lifting, so anything from back squats and bench press to the Olympic lifts like clean and jerks and snatches, to lots of cardio,” Simmons said. “We’re trained in Crossfit to train for the unknown.”

What was also unknown for some time was whether or not the team would even qualify — they originally missed the cut at semifinals.

“We ended up finishing in 6th place, which we were very happy with. We were a new team, we hadn’t been to that stage yet as a group, so we were one spot shy of qualifying for the Crossfit Games technically,” Fitzpatrick said.

The team returned home, but then the unexpected happened.

“I was working in my yard a few days later when one of the owners of the gym Facetime called all of us and told us, ‘Hey, I just got contacted by the Crossfit Games — don’t stop training,’” Robinson said.

The team that finished ahead of Crossfit Reignited had been disqualified, but it took some time before the four Wilmington athletes got the official word they were headed to Madison, Wisconsin. The disqualified team tried to appeal their disqualification.

That left Simmons, Carrick, Fitzpatrick, and Robinson in a limbo.

“25 whole days of suspense!” Simmons said.

“It was terrible,” Robinson added. “Training really hard every day for something we weren’t totally sure we were going to make it into.”

The wait for the final verdict was not an easy one in more ways than one.

Not only did they have to keep training as though they were going to the Crossfit Games, which is 7 days of some form of fitness a week, but they were not sure if they needed to start fundraising efforts to pay for travel.

“I mean in the meantime we’re thinking about trying to raise money that we need,” Fitzpatrick said. “Our families who want to go, they want to support us, they want to buy plane tickets, so we’re planning all this with a 90% we’re sure that we’re going but not 100%.”

The team already knows its first event at the Crossfit Games is relay style. It involves a long-distance swim followed by a long paddle on a paddle board.

For the team events, teamwork and communication are essential.

“A big part of it is obviously communication and it’s super hard when there’s all these lights, noises to hear one another,” Carrick said. “So you really have to make sure you’re all in sync together. That’s a big part. You don’t want to do extra reps that don’t count when they’re not synchro, so a big part of it’s just listening. We all have our different strengths and weaknesses.”

Their coach Matt Grange is perfect for the job, as he has a lot of experience with team building.

“I was a military officer in the army with 2nd Ranger Battalion, so I’m used to having to build a team out of people that don’t necessarily work together,” Grange said.

The Crossfit Games take place next week and both teams and individuals will compete.

Crossfit Reignited will be one of 40 teams and will compete in 15 events over the course of four days.

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