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Crossing over to CrossFit

Hilhi sprinter Anna Dean has incorporated CrossFit workouts into her training regimen this season


Anna Dean is not someone content to rest on her laurels.

Thanks to an introduction to CrossFit over the winter, Dean — Hillsboro’s standout junior hurdler and sprinter — has spent the past few months getting stronger and more explosive. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro junior Anna Dean, who won a state championship in the 100-meter hurdles last spring, works out at CrossFit Reflexion in preparation for the upcoming track and field season.

That could spell a whole lot of trouble for the rest of the state, given that Dean already is an eight-time state meet finalist and the reigning Class 6A state champion in the girls 100-meter hurdles.

As fast as she is — she set her personal best time of 14.64 seconds in the hurdles last spring, a mark that ranked second among Oregon girls in all classifications in 2013 — Dean recognizes that she has set a high standard for herself in her first two years of high school competition.

“Even if I run what I ran last year, I’ll be content,” she said last month at CrossFit Reflexion, the Beaverton facility where she put in some three dozen workouts over the winter. “I just don’t want to lose — you know, I don’t want to go slower. I hope that doesn’t happen.”

Actually, her winter work could help make her faster.

CrossFit is a broadly based strength and conditioning program that has exploded in popularity in recent years. Oregon alone is home to more than 80 CrossFit affiliate gyms or “boxes,” as they are often referred to in industry parlance. Workouts at these boxes focus on functional fitness, and adherents can do a mix of everything from Olympic lifts to pull-ups to box jumps to body weight exercises like push-ups and burpees in a given workout.

Prior to this winter, Dean had never done any type of strength training, not even at Hilhi. It was a family friend who convinced her to give it a shot. Steve Jones, the former Glencoe football coach, works out at CrossFit Reflexion and suggested that she try it. Dean checked it out, decided to give it a go, and has stuck with it, building a solid foundation for the track season.

“Not every day did I want to come, but when I was here, I was happy that I was here, and afterwards, I was happy that I worked out,” Dean noted. “I’ve been able to see a difference ... in my strength and how much power I have out of the blocks.”

Given that Dean had no background in weight training, her coach at CrossFit Reflexion, Shawn Wilson, brought her along slowly. Her training has been geared specifically toward helping her in track, Wilson said. And proper technique has been a point of emphasis. Dean began lifting with light weights, she noted, not adding weight until she had technically mastered the proper movements. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro junior Anna Dean has incorporated CrossFit training into her workout regimen as she prepares to defend her 100-meter hurdles state championship on the track this spring.

It didn’t take long for Wilson to pick up on some areas where Dean stood to improve. She is particularly tight in her hamstrings and her hip flexors, Wilson observed, and from viewing some of her races online, he noticed that she tended to peter out a bit in her longer races.

“What I was most surprised when I saw her first was how inflexible she is, but how fast she is,” Wilson explained. “She’s super inflexible, but yet she’s the state champion. That’s huge upside. To me, as a coach I want to unlock that potential.

“I saw nothing but upside with her because she’s a hard worker, she’s very, very coachable, and ... she’s got great body awareness.”

Dean started keeping a journal right away, so her improvements are right there in writing.

“It’s really cool to see each day what my weight was and what my time was for doing that,” Dean said. “Because sometimes you come across the same workout as you’ve done already. And so I would do the same workout and I would do such a better job at it.”

Some of the few early-season indicators of the impact of Dean’s new training have been positive. Anecdotally, she has felt more powerful and explosive, she said. And couple of weeks into practice, Hilhi hurdles coach Larry Binkerd timed Dean over five hurdles. She picked up right where she had left off last spring.

“I really think so,” Binkerd replied when asked if he thought the CrossFit has helped Dean. “It’s kind of maybe too early to tell, but I think it has physically, and I think it has mentally too. I think (it) has kind of focused her earlier, although she’s always been a real focused girl, particularly when it’s time to compete. I don’t think it’s hurt her any.”

The real proof will start coming now that the season is entering full swing. Because her right hamstring has been bothering her some lately — it was the left one that flared up last year — Dean has backed off a bit in some of her track workouts, and she sat out the Spartans’ season-opening icebreaker meet at Liberty before spring break. But she was expected her to run in the team’s dual meet at Century on Wednesday for her first action of the season. (Results were not available at press deadline.) The Spartans’ first big meet of the year the Oregon Relays on April 19.

Wilson, for one, believes that if he can get Dean where he wants her — he rated her mobility as a D-minus — the best is yet to come.

“If we get her to be an A, there’s nobody that’s going to touch her,” Wilson said.

That is, indeed, trouble for the rest of the state.



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