Alexis Raptis finished 2nd in the Teen Girls’ 16-17 age division at the 2016 CrossFit Games. The next year she qualified for the Central Regional in the Open division where she ended up 19th. Since then she moved out to Salt Lake City and has dealt with a back injury that kept her from advancing past the CrossFit Open.
We caught up with Alexis to find out what it was like to move from the teen division to the Open division, how her back is doing and what her goals are for the 2019 CrossFit Games season.
The Barbell Spin: You have competed at the CrossFit Games twice in the Teenage Girls 16-17 age division in 2015 & 2016 and competed at Regionals last year. When and how did you get into CrossFit?
I got into CrossFit when I was 15 years old, after I had quit gymnastics due to elbow injuries. I was trying to find something to fill my free time and I missed training all day.
TBBS: Were you good at CrossFit from the beginning? If so, what was your background prior to starting?
In gymnastics we did a lot of body weight exercises which made that side of CrossFit easy for me to catch onto, however, I never lifted weights before so that part was challenging for me.
TBBS: You finished 4th and 2nd, respectively, at the Games so you were obviously one of the best at that age group. We have seen several teen athletes qualify for regionals, but haven’t made it to the Games yet. Can you talk about how much tougher the competition is once you get to the Open division?
The individual competition is a lot harder than the teenage division, which is why we haven’t seen any teens qualify for the Games as an individual yet. I do however think that a lot of us needed a year or two to adjust to the change and gain experience in that level of competition. I do think that you will start seeing teenagers qualifying for the games very soon.
TBBS: When (and who) do you think will be the first teen CrossFit Games athlete that will qualify for the Games as an individual?
My goal for this year is to qualify for the Games, and I think that if I stay healthy, I can do so.
TBBS: This past year you moved out to Utah. What was the reason for the move?
I moved to Salt Lake to continue my CrossFit career at SLC CrossFit. Having like-minded people around to train with has been a huge game changer for me this past year. I’m also going to school and majoring in Health Promotions and Education at the University of Utah.
TBBS: You were dealing with a back injury during the Open. What happened and is it feeling better now?
I was having back pain for a while before I got an MRI and found out that my L4 and L5 discs were bulged. Prior to the Open I wasn’t doing any lifting, because my back was in so much pain, so 18.2 dropped me pretty low on the leaderboard. At that point, I made the decision that wherever I place, I was going to put my health first and fix my back. I finished the open strong and was proud of my effort, but it was still really disappointing seeing my season end so early. Following the CrossFit Open I got stem cell injections and have been recovering since. I’m finally back doing most of the movements and my backs feeling the best it’s ever felt.
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TBBS: As we look ahead to next season, what are your goals for 2019?
My goals for the 2019 season are to stay healthy and qualify for the Games.
TBBS: Will you do any off-season competitions between now and the Open?
I plan on doing a fun local competition called the 801 Classic in the fall, and maybe do Wodapalooza depending on how ready I feel.
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TBBS: As a teen competing at the level you need to be at, how do you balance the dedication required with training versus being a teenager and spending time with your friends?
I learned how to manage my time wisely back in gymnastics, so I’ve gotten pretty good at prioritizing my time. Training and keeping my body healthy is my first priority and then if I have free time that’s when I will hang out with friends.
TBBS: What advice would you give a 12-yr old girl who wants to compete in the sport of CrossFit?
I would say to be patient because good things take time. I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis as well. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the moment if you aren’t where you want to be. Take it day by day, put in the work, make sure to have lots of fun with it, and be patient!
Make sure you follow Alexis (@alexis_raptis) on Instagram to keep up with her training and preparation for the 2019 CrossFit Games season.