OPEX Coach Will Trujillo Relfects on Tommy Vinas’ Growth as a Games Competitor

The CrossFit Regional competitions have come to a close and Games training is already underway for OPEX Sponsored athlete, Tommy Vinas. Like the stories of many high-level athletes headed to Madison, Vinas didn’t get there alone and he didn’t get there overnight – victory is always a team effort.

In 2014, OPEX Remote Coach, Will Trujillo met Rookie Games Athlete, Tommy Vinas. Trujillo a former collegiate football player turned CrossFit Games and Regional athlete had been training and competing in the sport since 2011.

Vinas, a 17 year-old former competitive swimmer and dabbler in high school football had a single solitary 185th place Open finish under his belt and 170 lbs. of untapped, unexpressed raw talent looking for his own chance to play on the big stage.

“He absolutely wasn’t strong enough to play the game when he came to us at seventeen. He had decent knee flexion but his bending and posterior chain strength wasn’t good enough to keep him healthy. He got a good dose of deadlifts, pulls, rear elevated split squats and lunging patterns,” – Will Trujillo 

An Exercise Science graduate and a doctoral student in Physical Therapy, Trujillo’s athletic background and passion for writing strength and conditioning programs lead him to a CrossFit box in Goodyear, AZ where he programmed group classes for almost 600 members, among them the competitive athletes in the gym.

Vinas fit that category and started training with Trujillo and other Games and Regional’s veterans on a consistent basis, borrowing mostly from Trujillo’s program at the time.

But Trujillo was the stronger, more experienced athlete and in training sessions it was no contest with Trujillo besting Vinas consistently in metcons, strength and aerobic work. Soon enough, however, Vinas closed the gap, first, beating him every other week, then once a week and then surpassing him altogether.

“As he became the better athlete, I became Sensei. I was just the old dude waddling behind him,” – Coach Trujillo.

In 2015 they both qualified as individual athletes for the South Regional in Dallas, TX. Vinas finished 15th overall after a discouraging debut performance in the hero WOD “Randy” (he placed 46th). His coach and mentor, Trujillo, finished 26th.

The two would get another shot in 2016. Vinas finished 2nd in the South West Region Open but in 9th place, at Regional’s. Although it was a big improvement from the previous year, it was still 90 points and four spots shy of a Games qualifying position on the podium.

 

Vinas would have to wait another year, trust his coach, the process and his program. Vinas, the hungry athlete looking for more than just a taste of higher level competition; Trujillo the designer behind the program for Tommy to eat with the big kids.

The remaining area to tackle besides strength and aerobic capacity, however, was his mindset.

“In 2016, he had all the physical tools to make it to the Games, but you know what wasn’t there? His head. If a dumbbell had come out in 2016, he would have gotten 30th place and felt sorry for himself,” – Coach Trujillo.

Training for 2017 began immediately after Regional’s. The following training year would include physical and mental maturity for Vinas and professional and personal maturity for Trujillo. In the summer of 2016, Trujillo left his coaching job at his CrossFit box and went to work for OPEX, Vinas followed his sensei.

From 2016 to 2017, Vinas progressed all over the board: strength, aerobic power, muscular endurance. He also turned twenty, grew an inch and put on twenty pounds of lean mass. His one rep max snatch prior to the 2016 Regional’s was 275 lbs., but in December, just months before Open season, he hit 300 lbs. for a new personal record. The disastrous “Randy” workout from 2015? Vinas clocked 2:25 during his Regional’s simulation prep this year, more than a minute faster than his 2015 Regional’s time of 3:48.

With progressions like this, Vinas banked confidence and shifted his mindset – he knew where he could hang with other athletes and he knew where he could excel or surpass them.

Vinas was physically and mentally ready to compete. In the final event of the 2017 Regional’s weekend while other Regional’s athletes were joking around in the gates, Tommy focused his mind. He entered the completion floor and shut out the noise. Vinas finished 3rd in the final event and 5th overall at the South Regional.

Not exactly a flashy photo finish, but progression, dedication and the execution of a good plan.

“If we cloned Tommy, and put one of them in group classes and one with me, I think the group one would have made it two years later. The one with the individualized program had a plan that was designed for him with his body in mind – his work expedited the process and gave him some longevity in the sport,” – Coach Trujillo.

After three and a half years and more than 3,000 logged training sessions, Vinas is realizing his goal to compete for the title “Fittest on Earth,” and Trujillo is the proud Sensei, coach and friend who knew this would always happen…