By Spenser Mes
It’s silly to ask Coach Ariel what movements he’d like to see in a few weeks at Regionals. Last year, the first event alone included handstand push-ups, bar muscle-ups, power cleans, biking, and rowing. During the following eight events, athletes also had to overhead squat, do synchronized burpees, and legless rope climb. “There’s no point hoping to see one thing or not see another. You’re gonna see it all,” Ariel told me. I pressed him. If he had to hope for something, what would it be? He smiled. “Heavy snatches.”
This won’t be Ariel’s first trip to Regionals, which are in Albany on May 19-21. In 2014, he competed with Team Virtuosity, which placed third and qualified for the Games. “We spent the next two years feeling the pressure to repeat that performance,” Ariel said, “and it didn’t go well.” Both years, the team went into the final heat of the Open on the bubble for qualifying (the top fifteen teams move on), but when a few members decided to go as individuals, their score dropped below the threshold.
This year, Ariel had to decide between two teams. He was recruited by CrossFit Queens, the box that Coach Morgan competes with, but he ultimately chose CrossFit Westchester Pelham.Though the commute is a slog, two of his teammates from 2014 train there, so he knew there’d be a strong dynamic. “You have to know that the other people on your team are putting absolutely everything into the workouts,” he told me. “Plus, you’re training with these people for seven or eight hours a day.”
Based on the team’s performance during the Open, if Westchester’s Finest had to elect a captain,Ariel would be the obvious choice. For three of the five events, his scores were the highest on theteam, though not necessarily on the first try. For 17.5, the thruster and double-under workout,Ariel first finished in 9:57, which would’ve put him in 432nd place in the region. The following day, he repeated and got 8:07. Hoping to break the eight-minute mark, he suffered through it again. Though he improved by only four seconds, the competition is so compressed at the top that he moved from 79th to 71st place.
Westchester’s Finest finished the Open in sixth place, and over the next four weeks, Ariel is focusing on increasing his work capacity. With nine events over three days, recovery is as important as strength. If you see him training, feel free to offer your encouragement or someOreo cookies (they’re his favorite). If you want to watch him — or Coach Morgan — compete at Regionals, join the CrossFit Virtuosity caravan.