Streat Hoerner went stride-for-stride with some of the elite CrossFit athletes in the world earlier this summer.
Now, he will have the opportunity to do it again on the sport’s biggest stage. The Reebok Crossfit Games run Thursday through Sunday in Madison, Wis., and the 2013 Dubuque Senior graduate will be in the field for the second time in three years.
Hoerner finished fourth at the prestigious Rogue Invitational CrossFit competition at Columbus, Ohio, in late May. The 20-man field included the top 10 finishers from last year’s CrossFit Games and 10 wildcards. Twelve of the Rogue competitors had already punched their tickets for the CrossFit Games at the time of the event.
“Obviously, the CrossFit Games are the end goal every year, so I’m super happy to be there, competing with everybody,” Hoerner said Monday before departing for Madison. “Placing fourth at the Rogue against most of the top guys really boosted my confidence. I know if I’m at my best, I can compete and be toward the top, with anybody.”
In his CrossFit Games debut two years ago, Hoerner finished 15th in the 39-man field. It was an impressive place, considering he took 29th, 24th and 22nd in his final three events, two of which weren’t announced until the day of competition.
Hoerner, along with several other competitors in the 2017 field, developed a stomach bug after the open-water swimming event in Madison and battled his way through those final three events. Thanks to a runner-up finish and a 10th-place effort early in the competition, Hoerner found himself in the top 10 on the second day of his CrossFit Games debut.
“It’s tough, because you have every one of the top competitors there, and you have to be at your very, very best to compete with them,” Hoerner said. “If you’re not at your very best this weekend, you’re going to be toast. Peaking for the Games is so important. And, like two years ago, sometimes there are variables that are out of your control. That’s why you really have to respect the people who win it.”
Last year, Hoerner had one rough outing during the qualifying round and missed advancing to the CrossFit Games by four measly points.
Being in peak physical condition will be even more pivotal this year after the CrossFit Games altered its structure. The 148-man field will be whittled to 75 competitors after the very first event and cut to 50, 40, 30 and 20 before establishing the 10 finalists for the last few events. (The 134-women’s field will undergo similar cuts after each event.)
So, by luck of the draw, a top athlete could be eliminated early if he faces an event that doesn’t suit his strengths.
Hoerner expects to enjoy a significant home-course advantage as one of the few Midwest-based athletes in the Games.
“It was pretty cool two years ago,” said Hoerner, who lives and works as a professional trainer in Dubai. “At every single event, either walking to the event or actually in the arena, I could hear people yelling my name and encouraging me. It was awesome.
“Nobody else has that kind of support, mainly because they have to travel so far to get to the Games. A lot of them envied that support, and it definitely gave me that home-course advantage. It makes a big difference, too, that I could train at home in Dubuque the last couple of weeks, while a lot of the other guys have been staying in the Madison area to get acclimated.”
Hoerner qualified for the CrossFit Games this spring via an online qualifier, a series of five workouts for five consecutive weeks. Hundreds of thousands of athletes of all ages from all over the world competed in the open qualifier.