Coweta teen Morgan Gross is the top scorer in the world in her division in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Open.
Gross outscored thousands of CrossFit girls to become world champion in the 14/15 scaled division of the CrossFit Open.
It’s quite an accomplishment – but is even more impressive considering Morgan had never worked out or played any sport before she began doing CrossFit just over a year ago.
The CrossFit Open is the first step in the CrossFit Games. For the Open, Crossfitters around the world perform a specified workout that is released each week for five weeks. A certified CrossFit judge scores the workout and submits the score.
The soft-spoken teenager said she decided to compete in the open because she “wanted to see how well I could do.”
“I knew what she was – I always told her that 'one day I’m going to show you how good you are.' And then she owns the whole thing,” said coach Ben Brown of Tower Place CrossFit.
Morgan says she loves CrossFit and the way it makes her feel.
When she started training, she’d never lifted weights. Now she can lift more than her body weight. It’s something she never thought possible.
“She will not quit,” Brown said. And “she never has a bad mood. She never brings a bad attitude into the gym. She’s never once back-talked, never once questioned anything, never once quit.”
“She has the strongest work ethic in here by far,” said Tower Place CrossFit co-owner Tommy Collins. “She will not quit. You can’t run her in the ground and make her stop.” Participating in CrossFit was Morgan’s mother’s idea. And initially, Morgan didn’t want to join her mother.
“A friend told me and my mom about it and my mom made me go,” she said. “I didn’t want to do it, because I was scared. She made me do it and I fell in love.”
“We were pretty much hobbits. We would stay at home all the time on the computer, not getting any kind of exercise, not getting out,” said Morgan’s mom, Emily. “That was not healthy for either of us.” Their friend had started going to CrossFit and enjoyed it and “suggested that Morgan might really like something like [CrossFit].”
“She really pleaded not to come. I said, 'You’re going to come for at least a week, and then we’ll see.’”
The rest is history.
CrossFit is “kind of a family atmosphere once you get to know everybody,” Emily said. Plus, you’re only competing against yourself. There’s no pressure from a team. Instead, “you put the pressure on yourself. And no matter what your goal may be, everybody is very supportive.”
Emily had been working out at a gym and Morgan had tried it, but “it just wasn’t motivating.” But the atmosphere of CrossFit “keeps you going, it keeps you wanting to come back. But, at the same time, there is absolutely no pressure if you miss a day or two,” Emily said.
Morgan rarely misses a day, however. “She will come seven days a week if I let her, and she generally does,” Emily said. At one time, they were going in the morning and after school. “I slept in the car while she came in and worked out,” Emily said. But that was a little too much, so they went back to once a day. Morgan has some equipment at home, so she can do a workout on days she doesn't make it to the gym.
When asked why she had never done any sports before, Morgan said that they “just didn’t interest me. I didn’t think they were fun.”
What makes CrossFit different? “I think it’s because we can do so many different movements,” she said.
When Morgan first came to Tower Place, “she was overweight and very out of shape,” said co-owner Kristi Collins. Now she is just so slim and trim and so strong.
“Her transformation was just unreal.”
Morgan worked hard but wasn’t much for chit-chat. “She didn't speak for the first three months,” Brown joked.
Because of her quietness and strength, she’s picked up a nickname: Majestical Unicorn. According to Morgan, CrossFit makes her feel strong and tough, and it has changed her life. When she found out she was the world champion in her division, she didn’t tell anyone at her school, Central Christian (formerly Heritage Christian), but “then the principal found out and he announced it at lunch one day.”
Now kids at school “will come up to me and say ‘don’t mess with her, she is the strongest girl in the world.’”
Following the CrossFit Open is the CrossFit Games in California. This is the first year teenagers are allowed to participate in the games, but Emily said it is unknown whether or not competitors from the scaled division will be invited to the games next month.
Morgan says she wants to make it to the games one day. For the main, individual competition, participants have to be at least 18 years old.
When asked her career goals, Morgan simply replied, “Right now, it’s just CrossFit."
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