First SouthWest FireBreather CrossFit Regional Championship brings in athletes from five states

Sweat glistens on the head of Nate Beard of Fruita as he repeatedly snatches 135 pounds during the second and final day of the SouthWest FireBreather CrossFit Regional Championship held Sunday at Stocker Stadium. Beard took first place in the competition that included several 400-meter runs,  30 burpees following each run, and three rounds of 15 snatches. Beard works out at both CrossFit WestCo and CrossFit Grand Junction gyms along with the training he does at his home.

Before he walked into CrossFit Junction, Angelo Archuleta referred to himself as fat, only he used more colorful language to say it.

“I just walked in the door one day and didn’t leave,” Archuleta said. “Now I’m like a leech.”

Fifty pounds lighter than his first day in the door, the 31-year-old is now one of three owners of CrossFit Junction, along with Cody Fleming and Amber Peck.

CrossFit Junction, along with two other regional gyms, helped host Grand Junction’s first SouthWest FireBreather CrossFit Regional Championship at Stocker Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. The event brought in athletes from five southwestern states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. The event was open to 100 people, 50 men and 50 women, and had athletes competing to finish in the top 5 in each event to secure a spot at the FireBreather National Final in Denver in January.

Athletes compete in exercises from CrossFit workouts that utilize weight, body resistance and cardiovascular elements.

It was the first time the event was hosted in Grand Junction, and the event was not without first-time hiccups according to Archuleta. The profile of CrossFit has been raised with national events being shown on ESPN, but attendance in Grand Junction was low.

“We just want to get the word out,” Archuleta said. “CrossFit has people of every age. We were just hoping for more spectators. The event in Denver will probably be more organized, but it’s stuff you have to work out the first time you host something like this. Hopefully the next time we host something like this we can get the word out so more people can come see what we’re about.”

Chris Kilmer competed in a one-day event in the scaled division, which is open to people who can only make one day of the competition, or can only do lighter amounts of weight. Each gender and age class offers a specific weight needed for each exercise.

Kilmer, who moved from Omaha, Neb., to Grand Junction, became involved in CrossFit in Omaha and continued his passion in Grand Junction. He is a manager at Complete Nutrition in Grand Junction and competes in CrossFit competitions as a lifestyle choice.

“After the first workout I was hooked,” Kilmer said. “I’m pushing my limits every day, and to be able to compete in an event like this in Grand Junction is awesome.”

Fruita’s Nate Beard won the men’s competition, scoring victories in three of five events.

He won the “Nasty Girls With a Twist,” which consists of three rounds of 15 front squats at 135 pounds, seven “muscle ups” and 10 hang power cleans at 135 pounds. Beard completed the workout in 5 minutes, 25 seconds.

Beard also won the one max rep strict press, where the competitor has three minutes to find their max weight on a strict press. Beard maxed 245 pounds.

He also won the “Brain Buster” that included three, quarter-mile runs.

Archuleta didn’t qualify for nationals, but he fared well in Cindy with a Twist, an event where competitors do as many rounds of 10 pull-ups, 15 push-ups and 20 squats as they can in 20 minutes. Archuleta finished fourth.


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