Photo credit: Granite Games (instagram.com/thegranitegames)

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After experiencing the CrossFit Games in 2018 with his CrossFit Kilo team, Colten Mertens moved on to individual competition in 2019 and immediately set a goal of someday returning to Madison, WI. After three long years of training and competition, that day arrived for Mertens several weeks ago at the Granite Games in Eagan, MN, when he clinched fifth and final place at the Games.

  • Another unknown parent in the CrossFit community, Mertens’ performance was a bit of a surprise. However, for a 23-year-old who grew up working on a farm in Iowa, his intention was to hit his ticket – a realistic goal he knew he could achieve, he explained.
  • “The main objective was to qualify. I competed with a team in 2018, and since then I knew I absolutely wanted to come back to the Games (as an individual), ”said Mertens.

The Mertens road until 2021: After moving from team to individual competition, Mertens placed 403rd in the world at the Open in 2019 and competed in two Sanctionals events that season – the Dubai CrossFit Championship and the Granite Games, where he was respectively 29th and 26th.

  • The following season, Mertens, who is coached by CrossFit Kilo owner Armand McCormick, made a big leap forward in the Open, finishing 109th in the world, and then put on a solid performance at the Rogue Invitational. He placed ninth and took home $ 10,000 for his victories in the event.
  • Mertens also participated in the Mayhem Classic in 2020 and was planning to go to two more Sanctionals competitions before they were canceled due to COVID-19.
  • After graduating with a finance degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 2020, Mertens returned home and started working on the family farm. However, that didn’t stop him from finding the time to train five hours a day alone in his garage, which he has been doing for the past year.

The granite games: Knowing he had worked hard, Mertens was confident for the Granite Games, but admitted he was still a bit surprised when he scored two consecutive wins in Practice 2 and Practice 3.

  • “Each of these workouts had a movement that I’m not good at, so I really surprised myself, ”he said of the two events he won, which included thrusters and running in workout 2, and ring muscles, a clean squats and burpees in the workout 3.
  • Meanwhile, about the two events, he had the lowest finishes in the standings – the max snatch (20th) and Back to Back 1, which included wall balls, GHD sit-ups and barbell cleanups – the 5-foot-4 Mertens said he was happy, as he significantly improved his snatch and his wall balloons in the last year.
  • “I got a lot stronger in my snatch, but I know it’s going to take longer to get even stronger. “ said Mertens. And although he said he still struggled with wall balls, to finish 18th was a victory, because just a year ago, “I would have been in the bottom two on this event”, he said. he declared.

Look at the games: In the coming weeks, Mertens will focus primarily on “fine-tuning” and adding volume so that his normal workout “goes beyond what we’ll see at the Games,” Mertens said. He will also devote a lot of time to running, swimming and wall balling.

  • And while his main goal for his first Games is to use it to gain experience and seeing where he ranks, he also knows he has the potential to hit a few home runs as well, he said, which he hopes will include at least one event win.
  • “I think I have the potential to win some events, and then I just do damage control on events I’m not as good at, like swimming and rowing, ”Mertens said. “Either way, it will be a very good measuring stick.”

10 questions with Mertens

What is your greatest strength as an athlete?

Mertens: “Bodyweight gymnastics. Being a smaller athlete I have a big advantage there. I was a wrestler and we did a lot of bodyweight work back then.

Are you afraid of anything that could happen at the Games?

Mertens: ” I do not think so. When I started competing my biggest fear was being dominated and finishing last, but this has happened before (in 2019 in Dubai)… I took a few bad finishes there and I placed last in the sewing tests. So that’s my biggest fear, but it’s happened before.

Of all the nicknames reviewers gave your mullet hairstyle at the Granite Games, which was your favorite?

Mertens: Muscle hamster with a mule (invented by Chase Ingraham)

What three apps on your phone (besides email and texting) can’t you live without?

Mertens: “WHOOP, an investment app that I use, and Netflix. I watch Netflix when doing my salvage job.

What’s the last book you read?

Mertens: Range: How generalists triumph in a specialized world, by David Epstein. “I love to read. I read a few books a month. There is always something you can learn, always something that helps you process things and maybe gain an edge.

Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete?

Mertens: Cole Sager.

What’s your favorite breakfast and dinner?


Breakfast: “I like to eat a lot of toast and butter. And scrambled eggs and a protein shake. I also tend to eat a lot of fat in the morning and then by noon I’m higher in carbs.

Having dinner: “Pork chops and potatoes, and rice for more carbs. We have a pig farm, so I eat a lot of pork.

Are you counting your macros?

Mertens: “No. I used to, but now I have a pretty good idea of ​​what I usually eat, and I eat the same thing often, so I don’t count anymore.

Favorite cheat meal?

Mertens: “Reese’s peanut butter cups. They’ve been my favorite since I was a kid.

What do you want to do after CrossFit?

Mertens: “I’m definitely going to do something in agriculture. There are a lot of opportunities if you know how to work hard and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

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