The 2016 CrossFit Games Regionals start May 13th with athletes from the Pacific, California and South competitions vying for a qualification spot to the CrossFit Games in July. Five spots are available for each division at Regionals: Male Individual, Female Individual, and Team. We look ahead to the Individual competitions and preview the athletes to look out for.
Heavy Hitters: Kara Webb, Tia-Clair Toomey, Alethea Boon, Ruth Anderson Horrell
Kara Webb is arguably the biggest name in the Pacific region. She won the newly-formed Regional last year, and was victorious at the Australian Regionals in 2012 and 2013 prior to the addition of the Asian region in the competition. After finishing 5th at the Games last year and coming 3rd worldwide in the 2016 Open, expect Webb to lead the pack at the Regional this weekend. Tia-Clair Toomey shocked the CrossFit community when she finished 2nd at the Games in 2015, and everyone will be wondering if she can repeat her performance this year. She finished 82nd worldwide in the Open and 6th in the Australia region. At 32-years-old Alethea Boon is one of the older competitors in the women’s field, but she finished 20th at the Games last summer and comes in to the Pacific Regional as the 2nd ranked female behind Kara Webb (based on Open placement). Ruth Anderson Horrell is another dangerous veteran who has 5 Regional and 3 CrossFit Games appearances to her name. She finished 5th overall in the Australia region during the Open.
Potential Surprises: Helen Harding, Justine Beath
Helen Harding is one of the few athletes who qualified to compete in the Masters Qualifier as well as the Regionals as an Individual competitor. Harding, 40, won the Masters Women 40-44 Online Qualifier, securing her spot at the CrossFit Games. The question now is, ‘Can she go as an Individual?’ A former gymnast, this is only Harding’s second year of doing CrossFit. She finished 4th in the Australia region in the Open and will look to shock some people by finishing in the top 5 at Regionals. Justine Beath, 25, competed at her first Australia Regional in 2011 as a team member of CrossFit Penrith. She has since competed at the last four Regionals in the Australia/Pacific region, finishing as high as 7th in 2015. She enters the 2016 Pacific Regional as the number 3 woman in the competition—could this be the year she finally makes it to the Games?
Heavy Hitters: Rob Forte, Khan Porter
There has been a lot of turnover with male athletes in the Pacific Region over the years, and with Chad Mackay and Ben Garard (two competitors at the 2015 Games) not posting scores for the 2016 Open, there’s a huge opportunity for some fresh blood to qualify for the CrossFit Games. Two names that have grown to be major presences in the Pacific are Rob Forte and Khan Porter. Forte, 29, is a five-time Games competitor and competed as part of Team Australia at the 2014 CrossFit Invitational (he coached Team Australia at the 2015 Invitational in Madrid). He’s won three Regional before, so he’s always a favorite to finish 1st in the competition. Porter, 26, is coming off of his second CrossFit Games appearance, finishing 33rd in 2015. While he hasn’t cracked the top-20 yet at the Games, his victory at the 2015 Pacific Regional proves that he’s a threat to qualify for his third consecutive CrossFit Games.
Potential Surprises: Kyle Frankenfeld, Luke Fiso
Frankenfeld burst on to the scene during the Open this year after finishing 5th in the world and 1st in the Australian region. He’s a three-time Individual competitor at Regionals who came two spots shy of making the Games in 2015. You won’t find a lot of information online about Fiso, 26, but the Thorndon CrossFit athlete finished 40th worldwide in the Open and third in Australia. Let’s see if he can replicate that performance in the Pacific Regional.
Heavy Hitters: Chyna Cho, Brooke Ence, Alessandra Pichelli, Lauren Fisher, Becca Voigt
What an unbelievably stacked Regional. With only five spots up for grabs, will we even see a ‘surprise’ female qualify for the Games? I don’t want to tempt fate, but the athletes listed above boast quite the combined resume. Becca Voigt has the most Games appearances of any individual athlete in the competition. Chyna Cho finished 6th at the 2015 Games, the highest placing of any American female, and was a member of the Invitational-winning USA team last year. Brooke Ence won the California Regional last year and finished 14th at the Games on her rookie debut. Alessandra Pichelli is a three-time Games veteran. Lauren Fisher is the one dark horse on this list, but an Individual appearance at the Games in 2014 (where she finished 9th), a team appearance with CrossFit Invictus in 2015 (finishing 13th) and a 31st worldwide finish in the Open means she shouldn’t be discounted.
Potential Surprises: Kirsten Pedri, Chelsey Grigsby
Pedri, 33, and Grigsby, 26, have been regular fixtures at their respective California Regionals over the years. Grigsby was agonizingly close to qualifying for the Games last year when she finished in 6th place, 13 points out of 5th. However, she finished 1st in the Southern California region in the Open this year, putting her in strong contention to finally qualify for the Games at the fifth time of asking. Pedri will be making her fourth appearance at Regionals as an individual competitor, boasting a high finish of 8th last year. She finished 34th worldwide in the Open and 1st in Northern California.
Heavy Hitters: Dan Bailey, Josh Bridges
Dan Bailey and Josh Bridges are the superstars of this division. Bailey, 32, is coming off arguably his best year in CrossFit. He finished 4th at the 2015 Games and won the Spirt of the Games award, and, along with Chyna Cho, was a victor at the 2015 Invitational with Team USA. He’s also the reigning champion of the California Regional, and returns to the competition after finishing 71st in the world in the Open. It was a different year for Josh Bridges. He finished 6th at the 2015 Regional, missing out on qualification by 16 points. But he is a three-time Games competitor, and will be buoyed by the absence of Neal Maddox and Jon Pera, both of whom took qualification spots at the California Regional last year. He also finished 6th worldwide in the Open and will have a chip on his shoulder—not only for the missed qualification last year, but for also having his score adjusted in 16.4 during the Open following faulty reps on his deadlifts.
Potential Surprises: Rasmussen Andersen, Marcus Filly, Garret Fisher
‘Surprises’ might not be the best word here, given that there are plenty of athletes in the men’s field who have Games experience, though none I would label as ‘heavy-hitters’. But the void that’s been created by the absence of Neal Maddox and Jon Pera means that athletes like Rasmussen Andersen, Marcus Filly and Garret Fisher, all of whom have CrossFit Games experience, have a fantastic opportunity to make it back to Carson.
Heavy Hitters: Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Alexis Johnson, Candice Wagner, Tiffany Hendrickson
There’s been a lot of movement in the South region for the 2016 season. Margaux Alvarez, who finished second at the South Regional in 2015, will be competing at the West Regional this year. Maddy Myers, who took 5th, is in the California Regional. Amanda Goodman and Jenn Jones, who took 3rd and 4th respectively, failed to qualify for the Regionals. The one remaining member of the five who made it to the Games from the South last year is Bazinet. She’s the reigning champion of the Regional and the 2013 CrossFit Games champion. She has to be the favorite to win the South again. With plenty of qualifying spots up for grabs, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take them. Wagner and Hendrickson are two athletes with plenty of experience—both have been to the Games twice as Individuals. Also keep an eye out for Alexis Johnson. The 25-year-old is a two-time Regional athlete who finished 9th in the world in the Open this year.
Potential Surprises: Brista Mayfield, Brittany Chestnut
In truth, there could be an exhaustive list of potential surprises at the South Regional this weekend, given the absence of so many big names from 2015. Two athletes who could do very well are Chestnut and Mayfield, who finished 41st and 43rd worldwide in the Open respectively.
Heavy Hitters: Roy Gamboa, Travis Williams, Jordan Cook, Adrian Conway, Elijah Muhammad
All five of these men made the Games last year, though Muhammad qualified from the Atlantic Regional. Gamboa and Cook have two Games appearances each, while Muhammad, Williams and Conway have one. Gamboa won the South Regional last year, but Travis Williams comes in with the highest Open finish among these men (15th).
Potential Surprises: Sean Sweeney, Logan Collins
Replacing one of the heavy hitters mentioned above is not going to be an easy task, but two men who have a good shot at it are Sweeney and Collins. Sweeney comes in with the best Open finish of any male athlete in the South West, and he finished 6th at last year’s South Regional. Collins was a spot behind Sweeney in 7th, and is the 5th ranked man in the South West. Can the pain of missing out on Games qualification a year prior propel either of these men into the top 5?
Photo credit Philip Elgie