CrossFit coach makes semifinals in sport, competes in California

Published 4:29 pm Friday, June 7, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

Tristan Harrison has many roles in life. Some of these include nurse, coach, student and father. This year he added another role: competitor in the CrossFit Semifinals 2024.

Harrison grew up in Lyle and attended Southland Senior High School. As a teenager, he got into CrossFit, which became a passion he has worked on for over 11 years. He became a coach of the sport in 2017 and continues to coach at CrossFit Innerdrive in Albert Lea.

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CrossFit is a branded workout regiment focusing on high intensity exercises that help people in activities they do in their everyday life. The workouts include lifting, running and jumping onto things.

“We just want to do things that translate to the real world fitness application,” Harrison said.

While most people think of the “professional” level of the sport when they hear “CrossFit,” he said it is really more about adults trying to be the healthiest they can be to spend time with and care for loved ones.

Harrison competed in the CrossFit Semifinals in 2021, but had to do the competition online as many facilities and events were shut down due to COVID-19. He said he missed out on the live competition and was motivated to continue training to compete in person in the future.

Harrison began working at Morris Furniture and later entered nursing school at Riverland Community College. This made his schedule tighter and it became harder to fit in the time needed for workouts. Nevertheless he made time wherever he could.

“If we had a break between classes, I would just go to the college weight room and do a quick workout there,” Harrison said.

A chronic back condition also kept him from training as frequently as other CrossFit athletes. Harrison said even though this was difficult, he feels the time and physical constraints kept him doing workouts at a high intensity because he wanted to make the most of the hours he had available. He worked out for about an hour a day for five to six days a week.

His road to the semifinals began with The Open, which is the first stage of the CrossFit season, according to the CrossFit Games website. There would be one workout a week, and athletes would submit their scores online. The top athletes moved on to the quarterfinals, another online event.

From the quarterfinals the top participants were split into geographical regions and advanced to the semifinals. Each region had 40 men and 40 women competing in person.

Harrison’s region, North America West, held their competition in Carson, California, from May 24 to May 26.

The event took place at Dignity Health Sports Park, which Harrison describes as “an iconic space” in the CrossFit world.

After making it to the semifinals, Harrison increased training to 90 minutes to two-hour workouts in preparation for the competition. His training included powerlifting, Olympic weight lifting, cardio and metabolic conditioning. He said this was to increase stamina during the three-day long competition.

In California, Harrison experienced the major competition in person for the first time. He said it was a completely different feeling from competing online and even from competing at smaller regional levels.

According to Harrsion, his goal was not to score the highest on the leaderboard at the semifinals.

“I really was going there just to have fun and enjoy it … I was just hoping to not get last,” he said. “It would be cool not to be in the bottom 10.”

Harrison exceeded his own expectations and came out in 12th place out of 40.

“It was a surprise for sure,” he said.

All of the competitions at the CrossFit Semifinals 2024 are available to watch on YouTube.

Harrison continues to coach at CrossFit Innerdrive in Albert Lea. This is not only for the athletic benefits of the sport but for the community aspect as well.

“Community is what CrossFit is,” Harrison said. “It’s always been the members that I’ve focused on.”

He said his fellow CrossFit athletes celebrate each other’s wins and support each other during difficult times both in the gym and in life.

“It really is a family,” he said. He also thanked his work family at Morris Furniture for their flexibility while he had coaching, nursing school and Crossfit training.

Casey Kortz, owner and head coach at CrossFit Innerdrive, has known Harrison for five years.

“He has put endless hours of training to become the athlete he is today along with dealing with injuries through the years,” Kortz said. “I’m beyond proud of him! Seeing how far he has come and pouring his heart into this sport not only for himself but for the members of our gym, he absolutely deserved it.”

Kortz said she hopes Harrison has the opportunity to compete in the Games again next year.

In addition to coaching, Harrison began working about a month ago at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. He will go into another nursing program at Rasmussen University in July.