Each weekday morning Keanna Krueger’s alarm goes off at 4:15 a.m. so she can get an hour’s worth of weightlifting in before her school day begins at Cavelero Mid High School in Lake Stevens.
Once her school day ends Krueger catches a ride to Remedy Athletics in Marysville, where she spends another two hours working out by doing things such as walking on her hands, jumping on and off boxes, and reaching her toes up to a bar that she’s hanging from by her hands.
No, this isn’t a normal schedule for a middle schooler. But it’s this kind of dedication that’s helped shape Krueger into one of the best CrossFit athletes her age in the nation.
Krueger heads to Miami this week to compete at the prestigious Wodapalooza Miami CrossFit Festival, which begins Thursday, and she’s eager to test her mettle against some of the top CrossFit athletes her age the world has to offer.
“I’m really nervous because it’s the biggest competition I’ve been to, and it’s three days of working out,” said Krueger, a ninth grader at Cavelero who just turned 15. “But I’m really excited because I’ve never gone that far for a competition before. There’s going to be a lot of people there who inspire me, so I’m really excited about that.”
CrossFit is a high-intensity workout program designed to test all aspects of an individual’s fitness, and it’s made competitive by having athletes race to complete workouts in the fastest possible time. Wodapalooza is one of the nation’s biggest events as it’s open to international competitors in a full range of age groups.
Krueger was one of 15 who qualified in the female ages 13-15 division. Competitors qualified by filming themselves completing a series of predetermined workouts and sending them to Wodapalooza officials, who scored the workouts. Krueger squeaked into the last qualifying spot.
At Wodapalooza Krueger and her fellow competitors will take part in seven to nine different predetermined workouts over the course of three days. The athletes will race to complete the movements in the workouts, whether it’s various forms of weightlifting or even swimming in the ocean. Each workout is scored, and the winner is the one with the best cumulative score.
Ryan Swobody is the owner of Remedy Athletics, a gym that’s sent 16 athletes to the CrossFit Games — the top CrossFit competition in the world — so he’s seen the best of the best. His assessment of Krueger?
“I think she’s at the pinnacle, the tip of the spear really,” Swobody said. “From what I’ve seen she’s right on par with the top-level athletes (her age). I think she’s going to be competing for world titles for years to come.”
Krueger got her start in CrossFit because it’s a family affair. Her father, Shane, her mother, Chie, and older sister, Kira, are all avid CrossFit participants. So it was natural that Keanna gravitated toward the sport when she was young.
“When she was in second or third grade she would come to the classes while my wife and I worked out,” Shane Krueger explained. “At that point the gym owner said she was too young to do CrossFit, but she’d be on the side mimicking the moves. A year went by and the owner had been watching her on the side, so he started letting her train with us. From there history is itself, now she kicks everybody’s butt in class.”
Krueger has been doing CrossFit competitively for less than two years, but has already experienced her share of success. Her first competition was at the Elysian Games in Seattle, when her parents had to talk the owners into letting her participate at 13. In November she competed at the Painkllr Throwdown in Los Angeles, a two-person competition in which she teamed with Maddy Espinoza to win the women’s scaled division. The past weekend she teamed with her mother Chie and older sister Kira to win their division at the Granite Games Throwdown in Seattle.
”It’s the best feeling when after a workout, you’ve finished and you feel like you’ve accomplished something super hard,” Krueger said about why she enjoys CrossFit.
“I never get bored with it because there’s always different movements, there’s always different workouts, and every day you work a different part of your body — and you always feel good afterwards,” Krueger added. “I would recommend it to anyone.”
Krueger is also an accomplished middle school distance runner. However, she gave up cross country this school year to focus on CrossFit training — though she’s left open the possibility of competing in the track and field season as it comes after online qualifying takes place for the CrossFit Games.
Over the past week Wodapalooza has slowly been releasing the workout routines for the Miami competition, giving the competitors a glimpse at what they’re in for, but not enough time to prepare extensively. Krueger has begun practicing the routines that have been released, including a workout dubbed Circus Act, in which competitors have to alternate 40-foot handwalks and sets of snatch lifts.
But Krueger is headed to Miami with no expectations.
“My first goal was just to make it, and I already did that,” Krueger said. “Now I just wanted to do as good as possible, and I know I have to put all my effort in. Of course I would love to win it, but it would be great to even place 10th or something like that. Just getting there was a goal reached.”
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