After waking up somewhere in Palo Alto on the day of the first match, the GridCast crew and I took our morning drive to San Jose. The weather was perfect, the sun was shining, it wasn’t too hot, nor too cold, and even though we had jet lag, we were too excited to feel its effects. We walked into the convention center and moseyed our way through the maze of booths hawking nutrition products packed with loads of protein and passed many-a-man who had skipped leg day a few too many times to finally come to the far end of the arena.
The DJ was thumping out some hot jams, and we saw a familiar face all decked out in her Brawler attire. Mattie Rasnake was standing there grinning from ear to ear with her teammates, she gave us a wave under hundreds of colored track lights and I couldn’t help but remember that it was just 6 months ago we saw her in Columbia South Carolina at the Southern Amateur Grid League Invitational. In an 80 foot instant we saw her farmer carry over 400 lbs across an 80 foot Grid, a feat most men couldn’t possibly dream of completing. This made our heads swivel around and we witnessed a star being born. The memory shook off as she ran over for a hug. After a quick hello she rushed back to her team and we looked around to see Taylar Stallings and Becca “All” Day warming up in Quadrant 2. Across the grid we saw Natalie Newhart and Lindy Barber high knee-ing through the grid in anticipation of the battle that was about to commence. After our regular greetings to our friends on the grid, we took our places and got ready to watch and study the races that were about to begin. Get ready…race!
In the first race the Brawlers displayed their might by blasting through the KB Ground to Overheads by snatching virtually every single rep. In contrast, the Boston Iron women were Clean and Jerking beginning in Quadrant 2. This proved to be quite the difference maker. The DC Brawlers won the race by 21 seconds.
In race 2 the Brawler men were holding the women back from dominating the quadrants. The race went back and forth and the Boston Iron looked powerful and fast. However, it was in quadrant 4 where the DC Brawlers surged forward and won by 3 seconds.
The female echoes were next and we witnessed the power and strength of the dynamic duo of Taylar Stallings and Becca “All” Day. The first of the echoes started with Boston Iron’s Natalie Newhart absolutely taking charge with the overhead squats. Janet Black from the DC Brawlers however, allowed the bar to slip out of her hands while trying to throw the bar overhead. This costed the Brawlers a 3-rep deficit moving into Quadrant 2. Newhart repped out chest-to-bars in Quadrant 3 like nobody’s business, giving Boston a 13-rep lead going into quadrant 4. But then the dynamic duo stormed onto the grid. The hype was not at all overstated or overblown, those two Brawler “Bitties” were extremely powerful and fast. Somehow Taylar Stallings is more efficient and is it possible she is even stronger? The bar-path was smooth and straight, Becca Day kept up with grace, beauty, and power. The two of them had a 9 rep deficit going into the fourth quadrant and ended up winning the race by 12 seconds!! in just the final quadrant of the race!! This feat was jaw dropping.
The second echo was similar with fewer mistakes, but they were still there. Natalie Newhart was amazingly fast in her chest-to-bars and there seemed to be a communication issue with the DC women in Quadrant 2, but none of that mattered when it came to the dynamic duo in Quadrant 4. Taylar and Becca Day were unstoppable. DC won by 4 seconds.
In the men’s echoes the DC Brawlers finally showed a chink in their armor. In my post-weekend break-down we saw that the Brawler men would have lost to five different teams on the echoes. While on the other hand, the Boston men were powerful, fast, and took command. Only one other team during the weekend was faster than the Boston men. Boston’s Abgarian was ridiculously fast in the chest-to-bars and handled them with both grace and speed. The Boston men won the first echo by 15 seconds.
However, in the men’s second echo, the Boston men collapsed under the pressure. Justin Wright neglected to remove his leg wraps after the overhead squats in the first echo, restricting blood flow while performing burpee-box-step-overs. Under a medical emergency and near heat stroke, Wright continued to sludge through the reps even though his body was giving out. It didn’t matter that people were yelling at him to get off the grid, he was on auto-pilot at this point. Once off the grid he received medical help with IV’s to stabilize his vitals. When the dust settled, the DC Men had won convincingly.
The ladder was next, and the DC women showed their strength by easily winning their total. In fact, the Brawler men lost by about 200 lbs to the Iron Men, but the DC Women bested the Boston women by about 750 lbs. This may have been due to strategy and there were a few misses by the DC men, but to me, it looked like the DC Men were beaten by the Boston men while the DC women carried the DC men on their backs. The women of DC earned not only one point for beating the women of Boston, but they were responsible for also picking up the loss from the men, so they truly are responsible for all 3 points.
At this point, the match was over as long as DC finished all of their races under the time-cap. But there were some highlights from the match that we focussed on below. DC ended up winning the remainder of the races.
Ryan Elrod, a guy who had only practiced functional fitness for 6 days prior to the match, but has performed for Cirque De Soleil for years, put on a show on the Jack and Jill. His back-roll-to-supports were out of this world and were clearly the fastest on the Grid all weekend long.
In race 9 the DC women were extremely strong once again. Muscle fatigue did not seem to be a problem for the DC women, proving once again, DC was the team to beat.
Khan Porter of the DC Brawlers was used for the first time in race 11 for the overhead walking lunges. Many teams had to break this movement up, but DC kept him fresh for this one movement and that paid huge dividends for the team.
All in all the Boston Iron were no match for Justin Cotler and the DC Brawlers. While The Iron have a bright future with their young talent, this year is a year of gaining experience and building. The DC Brawlers are here to take charge. They will need to improve on a few things before the playoffs in September, but they have plenty of time to build on their success.
In race one, Jen Jones of the Miami Surge did not appear to be in grid-shape and instead, seemed to be in shape for longer duration functional fitness exercises. Monique Williams of the LA Reign showed her strength by snatching KB’s like a champ. LA’s Leverich and Dressing were quite the duo in quadrants 3 and 4 and ended up pulling in the victory for LA by 4 reps and 11 seconds.
In race 2, Jen Jones seemed to again struggle on the front squats. The speed wasn’t quite there like we’ve seen in the past. Miami’s Danielle Szpindor was a standout bad-ass in the “Mirror,” and Miami ended up storming to victory by 1 second. This was a nail-biter until the end.
In races 3 and 4 LA’s women clearly took charge in the echoes. They transitioned the overhead squats with the bars in the overhead locked position, and they were smooth as butter. The first race was won by LA by an incredible 51 seconds. The second echo was won by 30 seconds. The women’s echoes were clearly won from start to finish by LA. Miami failed to dethrone the Reign women.
In the men’s echoes it was a completely different story. The men of Miami transitioned the bar from guy to guy with the bar on the shoulders of the first man and transferring to the front rack position of the second man. LA’s men attempted the same transition in the overhead squat position, but it was sloppier than the women. At the end of the first echo Dusty Hyland, coach of the LA Reign threw the challenge flag questioning the overhead squats by Alex Anderson of the Miami Surge. While the quality of the movement was not revealed, I spoke to a league official for clarification. According to the unnamed official, to reverse a decision, the outcome of the race must be influenced by the reversal. Alex Anderson’s reps, if in fact weren’t deep enough or the hips weren’t open at the top, the couple overhead squats that were questionable wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the race.
In the second echo, Nick Urankar from the Miami Surge powered through 17 straight hang cleans in quadrant 4 for a commanding victory. This performance by Nick will be underplayed because Miami ended up winning by 9 seconds, however, it was much closer than that live. His strength and speed was overwhelming and may have been the ultimate turning point for Miami.
The thruster ladder was intense and was the most exciting portion of the match. Coach Doug Chapman of the Miami Surge used the Miami men masterfully. The men picked up quick 3-4 light bars and then skipped multiple bars to continue on the ladder. This strategy proved to be extremely successful. Every pound counted as the Miami Surge beat the LA Reign by a total of 60 pounds and the women won by 225 lbs. With 11 seconds left of the match the LA Reign had no more bars to pick up…11 seconds. How many bars can be picked up in 11 seconds? A lot. How many bars were missed for 11 seconds? LA lost by 60 lbs! This race falls directly on Dusty Hyland’s shoulders for not watching the clock and having his last couple of athletes not lift lighter bars to collect a higher score. This was a 3-point mistake and a momentum swing. Miami used the entire clock with the last bar being lifted in the final second of the match.
Prior to the Jack and Jill, Dusty Hyland, presumably feeling the pressure from his mistake on the ladder, threw the extra point flag to pull LA back into contention. LA apparently did not do their homework. Roderick Holloway of the Miami Surge had some sick skills when it came to the backward-roll to supports. That performance brought a commanding 18 second victory to Miami, it wasn’t even close. This was another big mistake by Dusty Hyland, and it allowed Miami to Surge forward to victory. With such commanding victories by the women in the echoes earlier in the match, the flag would have been better placed in the women’s triad, which LA won by 13 seconds.
With only 3 races remaining, the match was a foregone conclusion as long as Miami finished every match under the time-cap. The LA Reign won race 9 in commanding fashion, but as we said before, it didn’t matter. In race 10 Noah Ohlsen performed butterfly muscle-ups that were absolutely masterful, but Marco Coppola thew up the snatches in quadrant 4 like they were training bars.
In conclusion, Dusty Hyland made some major strategic errors and didn’t do his scouting homework when he failed to observe the bodyweight skills of Roderick Holloway for Miami. While the match ended in a 7 point defeat, 2 separate 3-point mistakes by Hyland deflated LA’s spirit, and Miami pulled out the victory. Like we’ve said before, LA has a powerhouse clubhouse, and the athletes are amazingly strong and fast, but the strategic mindset of Coach Chapman won this for the Surge. Welcome to GRID Coach Chapman. And one more thing…where was James Townsend for LA?