Destrehan standout a fitness national champion

Dylan Gibbs on the podium.

During his days as an All-State linebacker at Destrehan High School, Dylan Gibbs turned to CrossFit as a unique way to get into the best shape possible to excel on the football field.

After arriving at LSU, Gibbs realized that training was something he truly enjoyed beyond just getting to an end result. He decided to ramp it up and jump into CrossFit’s competitive world.

And just as he did in football, Gibbs has proved a quick study – and an exceptional competitor.

Gibbs recently earned the honor of Collegiate Functional Fitness National Champion, officially securing the honor at a championship final in Virginia this month. This year marked the debut of the competition, created by the non-profit USA Functional Fitness Federation and was open to athletes ages 25 and under who are enrolled at a U.S. college or university.

As this was the event’s first year, that makes Gibbs a first-ever national champion in the event.

Finalists qualified in October with the respective top five male and top five female competitors nationally squaring off at the Virginia event, which put the athletes through a five event workout over the course of 90 minutes: first an event testing endurance, then another testing strength, another agility, another all-around skills and a final event testing explosiveness.

While confident in his skills, upon arriving Gibbs took one look at the field of competitors opposing him and knew this would be a tough climb.

“I walked in and it was a lot of people from West Point, Air Force, Navy … military schools, because CrossFit is a popular training style there,” said Gibbs. “I was wearing my LSU stuff and everyone kind of looked at me because I was clearly sticking out.

“I felt good about what I could do but I have so much respect for them – I thought, ‘These guys are savages. They’re probably going to bring it to me.’ And they definitely did. They didn’t make it easy.”

Going into the last event of the day, Gibbs knew he had a chance to win the whole thing.

“I’m just going to black out and do whatever I can to finish ahead of this guy,” he said. “Thankfully I was able to do that. My legs were so blown up – I was absolutely dying.”

Gibbs began training competitively in CrossFit in March of 2022, and spent a year learning the ins and outs of the sport. In September of last year, he came across a post on Instagram highlighting the national fitness competition and thought it seemed like a fun thing to try.

Qualifying for the event was online – one would record a video performing four workouts specified by the contest before submitting the recording and scores to the contest’s online platform.

By this point, Gibbs had already progressed quite far in his Crossfit performance, as he was able to compare his scores favorably to some of the best of the best on record at the annual Crossfit Games.

“That’s the pinnacle of the sport,” Gibbs said of the Crossfit Games. “So, a lot of the testing scores I do, I can compare to the top guys. My scores were pretty good, so while I didn’t know for sure how I compared to the others in the competition, I had a feeling I was probably higher up there. When I won my qualifier, I felt like ‘OK, I know my training is going in the right direction, I’m where I thought I might be.’”

With the win, Gibbs will go to Hungary later this year to compete at the event’s World Championship.

Those who follow the Destrehan football program know very well of the heights Gibbs’ competitive drive can spur him to.

As a standout linebacker for a Wildcats’ defense that largely suffocated its competition, he helped Destrehan reach the Class 5A championship game in his junior year and the state semifinals in his senior campaign, a year that saw him earn district defensive MVP honors.

 

Crossfit was part of his preparation to reach those heights, and at LSU he realized he loved the journey as much as the destination.

“Every morning I’m up and I’m pretty sore, but you get to a point where you even kind of like that feeling,” Gibbs said. “You go to the gym and get back to work – it’s a very addictive feeling in a sick, twisted way. But it’s something I fell in love with.”

Part of the appeal, he says, is Crossfit is a competition where you get exactly what you put in.

“Your results are a direct reflection of your hard work,” Gibbs said. “In other sports, maybe you can get by simply by being super talented. This isn’t like that. You control what you can control and whatever placement you get is on you.”

Another is the discipline he has to maintain in order to continue progressing.

“There’s a saying that I heard, and I’m not sure exactly where, but it sticks with me whenever I’m doing a really difficult thing – ‘this is what hard feels like, and it’s why everybody’s not doing it,’ And that kind of keeps you going,” he said.

Gibbs is set to graduate from LSU later this year. He majors in biology and is also interning with Catholic-Baton Rouge as a strength coach with the school’s football team – it’s a field he’s interested in potentially pursuing career-wise, but he said he’s keeping an open mind to many potential routes.

One route he is surely on, though, is straight to Hungary – and, perhaps, a world championship.

 

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