Marah Baker is a mother, student and, still very much, an athlete.
The 23-year-old Gresham resident, a 2009 graduate of Roseburg High School, stays active and competitive through a CrossFit program and weightlifting.
Baker — who attends Portland Community College and is working toward a degree in fire protection — has done CrossFit for a year at CrossFit Dragonfire in Gresham. She’s participated in three individual and two team CrossFit competitions.
She added weightlifting to her repertoire earlier this year and was good enough to qualify for the USA Weightlifting National Championships, which were held last weekend in Salt Lake City.
“I’m in love with CrossFit and weightlifting,” Baker said in a phone interview this week. “CrossFit is a lot of high-intensity, functional movements and teaches you to be a mentally strong athlete. I’ve never felt so functional and in shape, and feel stronger in so many areas. It has become a huge part of my life.
“I think I have potential in weightlifting. (Competing at nationals) was definitely a learning experience and I took a lot away from it. I enjoy it and want to see what I can do.”
CrossFit combines a wide variety of movements into a timed or scored workout. Among them are pullups, squats, push-ups, weightlifting, gymnastics, running and rowing. It targets the major components of physical fitness: Cardiorespiratory fitness stamina, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy.
Baker, who recently became a CrossFit Level 1 coach, trains four to five hours a day during the week, with rest days on Thursdays and Sundays.
Two of Baker’s coaches say the rock-solid 165-pounder never has a problem getting after it in the gym.
“Marah is an amazing athlete,” said Michele Sparks Nguyen, co-owner of CrossFit Dragonfire. “She catches on quick and works hard, and is always willing to push her limits. CrossFit is about adapting to many different movements and Marah is well-rounded in her athletic ability.
“She’d only been to two (weightlifting) meets (before nationals). For someone who just started, to qualify was a huge feat.”
Bridget Raach, who’s a coach at CrossFit Fort Vancouver and Fort Vancouver Barbell Club, also accompanied Baker to nationals.
“Marah is a joy to work with,” Raach said. “She’s still young, very blessed athletically and has a great future. She did well (at nationals) for someone who’s so new to the sport.”
Baker competed in the 75 kilogram (about 165 pounds) division at nationals. She missed all three of her attempts in snatch, but successfully executed both attempts in clean and jerk.
“I knew I was going to be nervous,” Baker admitted. “I was very jittery … I wanted to hurry and lift and get off the stage and couldn’t make the lift (in snatch). Overall, it was a great experience. I got to work out with people and see what they do on a regular basis.”
Her next weightlifting competition will be the American Open in Washington, D.C., in December.
Baker has a 2-year-old son, Aedan. They live with Cheyenne Rahn, a Roseburg High classmate who also trains at CrossFit Dragonfire.
Baker was a multi-sport athlete at RHS, competing in soccer, basketball and track and field. She made second-team all-conference as a goalkeeper in soccer and received honorable mention all-league as a guard in basketball as a senior.
She played college soccer at Lane Community College in Eugene for two years and Warner Pacific in Portland one season.
As you can see, that competitive fire still burns — five years later.
• You can reach Sports Editor Tom Eggers at 541-957-4220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marah is an amazing athlete ... she’s always willing to push
Michele Sparks Nguyen
Co-owner of CrossFit Dragonfire