Morford takes CrossFit training to next level

Noah Morford realizes his plans for Friday — his first wedding anniversary with wife Kendra — would cost him votes for husband of the year in many marriages.

“I’m pretty lucky,” said Morford, a 29-year-old Derby resident. “I’m going to have to pull something off.”

Give the former Kansas State and Friends football player a little break. He didn’t set the dates for the second phase of the Reebok CrossFit Games, the burgeoning fitness sport’s premier annual event. Morford, a co-owner of the AMP CrossFit training facility in southeast Wichita, will compete in the North Central Regional on Friday through Sunday at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

The CrossFit Games apply measurable standards to various exercises encompassing strength, agility and cardiovascular fitness. Morford certainly earned his bride’s blessing to participate. Earlier this year, he signed up for the Open phase of the competition with more than 138,000 athletes worldwide and finished 329th.

In the North Central region, one of 17 nationally and internationally, Morford was 41st out of approximately 22,000. That earned the 2002 Winfield High graduate an invitation to Chicago, where he will compete against 47 other male athletes. The top three will advance to the CrossFit Games’ final stage, an event televised by ESPN, in July in Carson City, Calif.

“I’ve only been doing CrossFit training strictly for about 11 months,” Morford said. “I signed up for a competition in Kansas City just to give it a whirl and went up there and won it.”

In the CrossFit Games Open, Morford completed five prescribed workouts in five weeks at his facility, which he opened last year with partners Mike Grijalva, Chris Owen and Ivan Talavera. In the first workout, Morford had 17 minutes to complete 100 burpees, or squat thrusts, while alternating between sets of 30 repetitons with increasing weight in the snatch lift.

In Chicago, Morford and his fellow competitors face seven event challenges in three days.One of Saturday’s events features a combination of three sets totaling 45 dead lifts (315 pounds) with three sets of box jumps on a 24-inch platform in a race against the clock.

It’s an example of the grueling training regimen practiced by many police academies, tactical operations teams, military special operations units and athletes in many sports.

“This type of training is really geared toward getting you good at everything, not great at one thing,” Morford said. “You’re a jack of all trades.

“You don’t have to be the best at one event. You just have to be among the best at every event.”

Morford, a kinesiology student at Kansas State who earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology at Wichita State, walked on at K-State as a running back and was part of the Wildcats’ 2003 Big 12 championship team. After two seasons, he transferred to Friends, helping the Falcons earn a KCAC title as a standout linebacker.

During those years, Morford carried 245 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. Since college, his dedication to mixed martial arts-style training and now CrossFit — along with nutritional habits centered around the high protein-high fiber Paleo diet — has helped maintain his weight at about 215.

In preparation for the regional, Morford has trained six hours a day three times a week with additional training on Saturdays. Thursdays and Sundays are off-days.

Morford trains while maintaining his job as a sales representative for Jostens, working with approximately 50 schools in south central Kansas on purchases of class rings and graduation announcements. The Morfords welcomed a newborn son, Kash, on May 9 and Noah is a stepfather to Natalie and Jack.

While Morford leaves for Chicago on Tuesday with the attitude of trying to win the competition, he said a top-20 finish would be acceptable.

“I’m really excited for the CrossFit regionals, but part of me is ready for it to be over,” Morford said. “This is probably my one hurrah. We’ll just see how this goes.

“I say that now, but this time next year, I’ll probably end up doing it.”

Hopefully, Mrs. Morford will understand.