By all accounts Jay Harmon was an outstanding high school football player. In all my years of covering sports in Columbia County, he is the only freshman I can recall earning First Team All-County honors.
The former Augusta Christian standout burst onto the scene that season by rushing for nearly 600 yards and averaging 7.8 yards per carry from his fullback position. Even as a freshman, he was a big, strong kid that ran like a prep version of John Riggins.
He helped guide the Lions to the 2005 SCISA State Title, and finished off his career leading the county in rushing as a senior in 2007.
That year, Harmon ran for 1,133 yards and 17 touchdowns. He completed his prep career with a 38-12 record in four seasons.
He was also a three-time All-County selection, three-time All-Region performer, and was even named All-State twice. Yes, it is clear that Harmon had a special high school football career.
So, it was only natural to continue that career at the college level. He had put up the numbers. At 6-0, 220-pounds, he had the size, and he definitely had the desire.
Harmon decided to walk-on at Liberty University, but his football career never really materialized. He moved to Columbia, S.C. and enrolled at South Carolina, but after about a year he moved back to Augusta.
Then, in the summer of 2012 it happened. He came across The CrossFit Games on television.
“When I saw it, I knew immediately that I wanted to try it and when I did it for the first time I fell in love with it.” stated Harmon. “I had always done traditional lifting, but this was so much different.”
CrossFit is a workout that incorporates high intensity timed intervals with a mix of weightlifting, gymnastics, and other disciplines. From there, Harmon dove into CrossFit head first. He started with the workouts and then began to work toward his certification to train others.
“It was like God had put this in my life. I knew this was what I was meant to do.”
He earned his Level One Certification and his Competitors Course Certification and began training people at local gyms, but his ultimate goal was to have his own gym.
He wanted a place to teach others CrossFit. It was then that Harmon met a couple of local businessmen through a mutual friend.
And it did not take long for SEC CrossFit to take shape.
“We believed in Jay so much. We really loved his vision for the gym.” Stated one investor. The SEC stands for Strength, Endurance and Conditioning, all key components of CrossFit. Now Harmon has a place for competitive athletes to train, but also for the regular Joe that wants to lose some weight and get in shape.
“That is my main focus. Working with people to help them get in better shape. Seeing those body transformations,” said Harmon. “And that is what is great about CrossFit. The workouts can be scaled down to anyone of all ages and fitness levels.”
The gym plans to launch a marketing campaign in the coming weeks and has a grand opening planned for mid- to late- April.
However, the gym is operational and Harmon is already training some clients and competing himself.
The Reebok CrossFit Open is midway through local qualifying and SEC CrossFit is an Affiliated Gym. That allows them to host the qualifying workouts each week.
The best conditioned athletes in the world are doing workouts each week set by The CrossFit Games and the best will have a chance to move on to Regionals and from there, a spot in the Reebok Crossfit Games. The final two workouts are the next two Thursday nights at approximately 8:30 p.m. at SEC CrossFit, and they are open to the public.
If you happen to come by, you will quickly find out that Jay has some very passionate followers. Starting with his family. His Father, Larry, mother Kaye, and brothers Caleb and Luke (a rising senior standout athlete at Lakeside High) will be there encouraging Jay every step of the way.
And according to Harmon, it has always been that way.
“My family has really been there for me,” he said. “They were there in the beginning when I only had six clients.”
And as far as the competition…Harmon is doing rather well. At press time he ranked among the Top 65 of more than 10,000 participants in the Southeast Region. Which means he will have an excellent chance to move on to Regionals.
“I moved up 30 spots from week one to week two, so I am right where I want to be right now,” he said.
I was there last Thursday to witness his cheering section, and I can attest they are a fervent bunch. And why not, many of them have watched Harmon go from a 240-pound college student to a chiseled 190-pound beast. Becky Starkey, Harmon’s girlfriend of two years has been by his side for this entire CrossFit ride.
“She has been my rock,” Harmon said.
As have Trey and Austin Crabill, two of his former Augusta Christian teammates. Trey was an outstanding baseball prospect, while Austin played football at Appalachian State. They are both a constant at the gym, supporting their friend.
SEC CrossFit is located at 4012 Enterprise Ct., just behind Southern Lighting Center or for more information or to start training call Jay at (706) 825-4669.