Accomplishing the impossible: Granby man takes third at global CrossFit Games — at age 61
Cal Cherrington is 61 years old but do not let that number fool you, the sexagenarian former teacher and high school wrestling coach is far fitter than most men half his age and earlier this month he proved it while taking home a third place finish at the annual world CrossFit Games in Wisconsin.
Cherrington is the owner and operator of the Stand Firm CrossFit gym, located on Granby’s far western edge. For nearly a decade now Cherrington has been an adherent to CrossFit, one of the hottest trends, if it can still be called a trend, in the fitness world. Each year CrossFit athletes from around the globe participate in a winnowing process that leads to the world CrossFit Games, held in Madison Wis.
For the second consecutive year Cherrington qualified for the elite level competition, going up against a field of 19 other men over the age of 60. Last year Cherrington finished seventh in his division at the games and while that showing was more than respectable Cherrington’s competitive nature pushed him to train even harder.
“I was better prepared, mentally and physically, then 2017,” Cherrington said. “I went into the games ranked fourth in the world.”
Competition in the multi-day CrossFit Games is conducted through a series of nine circuit workouts with points being awarded depending upon an individual competitors’ place in each workout: 100 points are awarded for first place, 90 points for second place and so on. Cherrington took first place in three of the nine circuit workouts including one circuit that featured an 800 meter rowing component, 600 meters on a SkiErg machine and a series of 40 squats done while holding two 35 pound dumbbells.
“I gotta give credit to Shawn Scholl,” Cherrington said. “I had never used a SkiErg machine before. I called Shawn and he gave me some tips. It won it for me.”
The level of competition to reach the national games is fierce and the attrition rate is high. Cherrington noted that only seven men from his age division, including himself, who competed in the 2017 CrossFit Games qualified again for the 2018 games. The process to reach the CrossFit games begins in February with Cherrington and other prospective competitors filming specific prescribed workouts set forth by the central CrossFit headquarters in an event called the CrossFit Open.
The CrossFit Open is followed by a similar event, albeit with a smaller group of competitors, called the Online Qualifier. Over the spring and early summer months the global field is pared down until a small cadre of athletes is selected. According to Cherrington his age division started out with roughly 4,000 prospective competitors in February, which eventually was narrowed down to the 20 men that competed in Wisconsin.
Even with his remarkable success Cherrington’s demeanor is both unassuming and modest with a soft-spoken positivity. He has spent decades mentoring athletes as both a wrestling coach and a CrossFit coach and that extensive experience help form the basis of one of his life-long mottos: what’s your possible impossible?
“I have had that motto for years,” he said. “I used to tell my wrestlers, I want you to accomplish your possible impossible. If you had told me 10 years ago that I was going to be able to do this at this point in my life I would have said no way.”
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