by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Janessa Brindza is a former college softball player who now channels her athletic needs into the demanding CrossFit discipline. One day, Janessa Brindza hopes to represent Oregon at the international CrossFit Games.

It could be this year.

Brindza, a Wilsonville resident, will soon find out. This month she will head to the Showare Center in Kent, Wash., for the CrossFit Northwest Regional competition, which starts May 16. There, she will be pitted against 39 of the best female athletes in her age group in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. All will be battling for one of the three top spots — and a place in the games, which kick off July 25.

“This year I’d obviously love to go to the games,” Brindza said recently at CrossFit Wilsonville, the studio in north Wilsonville she runs with her husband, Will. “But my goal is make the top 10.”

The Brindzas took up CrossFit together back in 2007, when Will Brindza was in the midst of a 16-week training course to become an Oregon State Police Trooper. They opened CrossFit Wilsonville in 2012, and today operate their studio out of a warehouse in the Canyon Creek Business Park.

As their involvement and interest in the fast-growing sport grew, so did their need to compete. The sport tests physical fitness by pitting competitors against each other and the clock. It’s an individual sport. But it’s also the perfect team sport, where individual competitors pull for each other as part of the same squad.

“My first competition was when I started in 2010,” Brindza said. “I qualified for the regionals the first year, and it was my first competition. I showed up without even a jump rope.”

Now, that might not sound like the worst faux pas. Except in CrossFit forgetting your jump rope is akin to going without clothes or other essentials. It just isn’t done.

“I was so rookie,” Janessa laughed.

She loved the atmosphere, the camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment CrossFit gave her. She was hooked.

The Brindzas had their first child, a boy, in 2012, so Brindza skipped the competition that year. Last year, however, she returned in a big way, finishing 14th in the region and positioning herself nicely for the current season.

“That was big accomplishment for me,” she said. “I wanted to finish top 15.”

She admits that the rigours of motherhood, running a business and more tax her ability to train. But she has high hopes for the future, when she hopes to devote more time to CrossFit, whose devotees have created a national phenomenon in just a few short years.

“I’ll train a little bit more in the future,” she said. “But right now, with teaching, running this (studio) I just don’t put myself first.”

This year, she finished 38th in the open portion of the competition in the Northwest Region. The way it works is that CrossFit lays down prescribed workouts for athletes to complete. The top 40 men and women in each age bracket then qualify for the regional in Kent.

She said her background as a collegiate softball player leaves her struggling with certain CrossFit workouts, such as those involving gymnastics. CrossFit emphasizes sheer strength, for sure. But it also prizes agility, speed and flexibility. All are part of well-rounded fitness, and that, after all, is the end goal.

“I’ve got more technical work to do,” Brindza said. “A lot of this year’s workouts are heavy on the gymnastics end, and that’s not my background, as a collegiate softball player.”

Brindza is not the only Wilsonville resident to earn competitive CrossFit accolades. Dr. David Deumling, who runs the Northwest Wellness Center with his wife, Sue, also is an avid competitor and recently finished 17th in the Northwest Region and 183rd in the world in the masters division for men aged 55-59.

“This is a major accomplishment for both athletes and I thought it was certainly newsworthy for our community,” said Sue Deumling. “Come watch them work out if you can, it will be worth your time and you may get hooked like we did.”

Brindza said she expects several dozen locals will make the trek to the Seattle area for the regionals, and she’s looking forward to it. Although, she’s not quite so eager to take part in the Max Handstand Walk, an event that is precisely what it sounds like: The winner is the individual who can walk the furthest using only their hands and arms.

“It’s a full-fledged arena, it gets packed,” she said. “So, I bet we have at least 40-50 people from the gym who will go up there for a day or two. So that’s pretty incredible just to watch.”

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