Fifteen-year-old Daniel Kuc of Olive Branch took a two-week trial in the strength and exercise program called CrossFit a couple of years back, wanting to improve strength, speed and agility for sports in high school.
Kuc, who attends Lewisburg High School, said that trial has become a passion and he has decided to forget the other sports, instead focusing on being the best CrossFit athlete he can be.
That passion has led him to get to a level of success where he now has earned a spot in the upcoming CrossFit Games. Kuc will compete for a top place in his 14-15-year old division against other athletes from around the world.
The CrossFit Games will be held in Madison, Wis. Aug. 1-5.
“I wanted to get stronger and faster because I wasn’t the strongest kid out there for football, so I wanted to get a little stronger,” Kuc said. “I started CrossFit about a year-and-a-half ago and for some reason I just started loving it. I loved pushing myself and I loved how it felt afterwards.”
The “good” feeling for Kuc may not be for everyone, but he said he likes pushing himself, even if pain is a residual, momentary aftermath.
“The reward is afterwards; it just feels good after a workout,” Kuc said. “It feels like you’ve accomplished something.”
Kuc explains that several athletic movements make up the California-based CrossFit, a branded regimen originated by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai 18 years ago.
“It’s crossly varied, highly functional movements performed at high intensity,” Kuc said. “All the CrossFit movements are functional. It’s like rowing, running, swimming, weightlifting, powerlifting, cycling.”
Kuc’s national recognition began last year as the number one-ranked athlete for his age in Mississippi, 16th in the South Central Region, including Texas and Louisiana, and 139th in the nation.
This year, Daniel remains top-ranked in Mississippi, but is third in the South Central Region and ninth in the nation. He is also ranked 10th for his age group in the world.
Kuc’s progression began with his participation in the CrossFit Open in 2017. This year he started posting high results in online challenges ending with qualifying for the Games.
“They post out a workout for five weeks, a total of five workouts,” Kuc said. “The top 200 from that go to online qualifiers, which is four workouts over five days and the 20 from that get to go to the Games and they will come from all over the world.”
Kuc is quick to point out that diet is as much of the CrossFit regimen as exercise, starting with his mother’s soup recipes from her Polish origin.
“I try to eat all clean food, I know what’s basically good and fat-free so I just stay along there,” he said. “I try to stay away from processed foods.”
As Kuc gets ready for his competition, he and his family are reaching out for financial support from the public. A “Games” account has been set up through Wells Fargo Bank and the family also has a GoFundMe online program active as well. Search “Daniel Kuc to the CrossFit Games” to find it online.
Daniel said he is looking forward to testing himself against the best competition, representing Lewisburg and DeSoto County at the same time.
“It’s going to be awesome to meet a lot of different people,” he said. “There’s not too many 14-15 year olds from different countries, as the USA is dominating that part, but there’s going to be a few and it’ll be cool to meet them.”
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.