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Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

SoCal Marine’s ‘muscle up’ to OC CrossFit competition

By Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns | Marine Corps Air Station Miramar | January 17, 2014

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Sgt. Aaron Gardner, a training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs a handstand push up while warming up during the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner pushed himself through each grueling repetition and, despite an injury to one of his abdominal muscles early the second day, finished 20th.

Sgt. Aaron Gardner, a training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs a handstand push up while warming up during the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner pushed himself through each grueling repetition and, despite an injury to one of his abdominal muscles early the second day, finished 20th. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)


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Alyxandra Gardner, wife and coach for Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., cheers for her husband during Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner admitted he wouldn’t be where he was at the competition without the help of his family and friends who pushed him and gave him the encouragement he needed to prepare for the CrossFit competition.

Alyxandra Gardner, wife and coach for Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., cheers for her husband during Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner admitted he wouldn’t be where he was at the competition without the help of his family and friends who pushed him and gave him the encouragement he needed to prepare for the CrossFit competition. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)


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Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs pull ups during the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner dedicated himself to the sport he loves and trained for hours a day to compete against athletes who had either been to the CrossFit Games, or to regional qualifiers – CrossFit’s equivalent to the Super Bowl.

Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs pull ups during the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner dedicated himself to the sport he loves and trained for hours a day to compete against athletes who had either been to the CrossFit Games, or to regional qualifiers – CrossFit’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)


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Sgt. Aaron Gardner, right, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and teammate Wes Piatt, left, Coast Range CrossFit in Gilroy, Calif., enjoy a snack and some conversation while resting during Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner realized a three year-old dream when he competed in the CrossFit competition, and gained the notice of CrossFit Games veterans like Piatt and several others by being a new face in the rapidly growing competition.

Sgt. Aaron Gardner, right, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and teammate Wes Piatt, left, Coast Range CrossFit in Gilroy, Calif., enjoy a snack and some conversation while resting during Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner realized a three year-old dream when he competed in the CrossFit competition, and gained the notice of CrossFit Games veterans like Piatt and several others by being a new face in the rapidly growing competition. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)


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Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs a squat clean during the second day of the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner dedicated himself to the sport he loves and trained for hours a day to compete against athletes who had either been to the CrossFit Games, or to regional qualifiers – CrossFit’s equivalent to the Super Bowl.

Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., performs a squat clean during the second day of the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Jan. 11. Gardner dedicated himself to the sport he loves and trained for hours a day to compete against athletes who had either been to the CrossFit Games, or to regional qualifiers – CrossFit’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns)


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COSTA MESA, Calif. --

Excited cheers greeted Sgt. Aaron Gardner, training clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and 42 other male competitors who took center floor to compete in the Orange County Throwdown at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Calif., Jan. 11.

Gardner’s dream to compete in the four-year-old annual CrossFit competition, one of the fastest growing and the second-most elite competitions in the world, had finally come true.

“It’s such a blast, and I am having the time of my life,” said Gardner, a San Diego native. “All the agony, suffering, frustration and all the long hours of training coming together is just a huge blessing, but 85 percent of the reason I got this far is from the support of my family and friends.”

Gardner dedicated himself to the sport he loves and trained for multiple hours a day to compete against athletes who had either been to the CrossFit Games or to regional qualifiers for the sport’s equivalent to the Super Bowl.

The competitive Marine didn’t go unnoticed by the veteran athletes.

“I have the same coach as Aaron and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to watch him train for the last six months,” said Wes Piatt, a competitor in last year’s CrossFit Games and owner of Coast Range CrossFit in Gilroy, Calif., and. “I knew he was a beast to begin with. I got to work out with him a couple times and I knew he was going to do great things. It’s really awesome that he’s here, and I don’t think people realize just how good he really is and that he’s going to make a big splash for sure.”

Gardner threw himself into the three day competition one workout at a time. Competitors battled in various ways from swimming workouts to the agility workouts of NFL athletes and Olympic weight lifting. The young Marine pushed himself through each grueling repetition and, despite an injury to one of his abdominal muscles early the second day, finished 20th.

“I went out and did everything I could have done,” said Gardner. “I was hurt, but I pushed through. Top 20 in the second-most elite competition in the world? I’ll take it!”

This competition isn’t the last the CrossFit world will see of Gardner – he has his sights set on the next biggest thing he can get to for now.

“I’m feeling pretty beat up but I’m in good spirits,” said Gardner. “I’ll take a few days of rest and then it’s back to work. I’ve got my eyes on regionals for the CrossFit Games.”


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