Testing profile mapping part 2 (Dasha)Pittston’s Semenza returning to CrossFit Games

FILE - This Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 file photo shows a sign outside the Stock Exchange in the City of London. The London Stock Exchange Group says it has agreed to acquire financial data and analytics company Refinitiv for $27 billion in stock and assumed debt in a deal that will help the exchange compete with the likes of Bloomberg as demand for real-time market information expands. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
FILE - This Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 file photo shows a sign outside the Stock Exchange in the City of London. The London Stock Exchange Group says it has agreed to acquire financial data and analytics company Refinitiv for $27 billion in stock and assumed debt in a deal that will help the exchange compete with the likes of Bloomberg as demand for real-time market information expands. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Published August 1
Updated October 2

Aug. 1--Pittston's Paige Semenza has decorated her CrossFit résumé with all sorts of accomplishments in the past few years.

But, she says without hesitation, the most surreal moment came last June in Palm Beach County, Florida, when she qualified for the international CrossFit Games for the first time as an individual.

"That was the most incredible moment I've had to-date," Semenza said. "Just a really, really big dream and a goal that I was able to complete."

Semenza finished 32nd among 40 women who qualified for the 2018 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.

Being 28 and living a lifestyle that reinforces and strengthens a CrossFit background -- a sport where fitness is tested in a variety of workouts -- Semenza had every reason to chase that goal once again in 2019 and aim for even greater things, although she was initially reluctant to do so.

"There were so many changes this year with the format of how to qualify for the Games that it was really unknown at the beginning of the season. I didn't take it to heart too much," Semenza said of the prospect of competing in the 2019 CrossFit Games. "I told myself, 'Well, let's see what happens this year. If you qualify, great. If not, it's not the end of the world.'"

It nearly felt like the end of the world, however, when Semenza recorded above-average performances at the Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival and Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, only to miss out on a qualifying spot at the CrossFit Games by mere points each time.

"Those two were just kind of wake-up moments where it really showed me how badly I wanted to qualify," Semenza said, "because it hurt."

The third time was the charm for Semenza, who placed second in a 31-woman field in June at the Brazil CrossFit Championship, clinching her spot at this week's CrossFit Games in Madison.

Semenza's goal has nothing to do with her placement, she said, although a first-place finish would net a $300,000 grand prize; finish top-five and she'd guarantee herself at least $35,000.

Above all else, Semenza wants to prove that she's better -- fitter -- than she was one year ago.

Growing up in Pittston, Semenza played team sports like basketball and softball.

She was most successful at ice hockey, playing it at the prep level for the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont and continuing her career at Ohio State.

Semenza eventually found her true calling in CrossFit, saying she enjoys the individual aspect of it. She can't do it all on her own, though.

"I've been with some great people, especially since starting CrossFit," Semenza said. "It's opened nothing but opportunities."

While she's since competed as an individual, Semenza first made the 2017 CrossFit Games with her team, Timberwolf CrossFit, which finished eighth of 38 teams.

Semenza is coached by Gabe Garcia of Misfit Athletics. She has a team of other helpers, too, including a chiropractor, a massage specialist and a physical therapist.

Semenza not only trains at CrossFit Vertex in Olyphant and NEPA CrossFit in Wilkes-Barre, but she also teaches classes at both facilities and works as a personal trainer.

So, she keeps a busy schedule that includes five days a week of training and one day of "active recovery," she said.

"My weeks are like clockwork, so it becomes really routine and it's something I really enjoy," Semenza said. "So it comes pretty easy for me."

Semenza gives CrossFit her all, something necessary to compete at an elite level in a sport characterized by many as a lifestyle rather than just a game.

While the CrossFit Games' list of activities has not yet been released, exercises will test an athlete's agility, balance, flexibility, power, speed and cardiovascular abilities.

Last year's events included a handstand walk, a two-stroke pull and "Aeneas," where athletes perform a series of pegboard ascents and thrusters capped by a heavy yoke carry.

In addition to those mentioned, Semenza thanked her parents, Phil and Jo Ann, as well CrossFit Vertex owner Kaleena Marcavage and 15-year-old Gigi Sabatini of Abington Heights who's also competing this week.

Semenza also thanked the team at Misfit Athletics and those who helped raise $2,190 via a GoFundMe fundraiser started by Brennan Morton.

Proceeds will go toward travel, lodging and registration at the CrossFit Games. Competition runs tonight through Sunday.

"Getting here is definitely not cheap," Semenza said. "The support of the community is definitely very critical."

Last year, the CrossFit Games reportedly sold out the 10,000-seat Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Contact the writer: mbufano@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter

WHAT IS CROSSFIT?

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According to its website, the CrossFit Games is the ultimate competition that tests fitness. "The CrossFit Games events are made up of a broad range of functional movements," the website states. "Functional movements move large loads, long distances, quickly. These movements also form the basis of our exercise program. Make no mistake -- the CrossFit Games are designed to test, not train, fitness. The goal is to find the fittest athletes, not to produce an easily replicable workout program."

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