While everyone is looking at this year’s CrossFit Games with fresh eyes after several months of uncertainty, 2020’s first-year qualifiers know even less about what to expect. For the first phase at least, everyone is competing on home turf, the playing field leveled with an online competition. Get to know the rookies of the 2020 CrossFit Games individual women’s and men’s competitions.
2020 CrossFit Games Men’s Rookies
Tyler Christophel (USA)
Tyler Christophel transitioned from a background in baseball to CrossFit in 2016, and found his groove pretty quickly. He joined Team 417 out of Ozark, Mo. at the CrossFit Games the next two years, finishing fifth in 2018. Christophel ventured into individual competition in 2019 with a 36th place finish in the worldwide Open — respectable, but not enough to secure a spot in Madison. The 30-year-old jumped to 9th worldwide in the 2020 Open after hiring Coach Mike Catris of the Athlete Program who he said helped with his mindset and confidence. We’ll see if both carry through on the big stage.
Scott Tetlow (USA)
Self-described “average guy,” from Illinois, Scott Tetlow qualified for the Games this year after three years of trying, jumping from 200th in the world in 2019 to 17th in 2020. Tetlow balances his self-coached training with two full-time jobs: one with the US military and the other as a father to a four-year-old son. He’ll be the first to tell you that CrossFit isn’t his job, but a “passionate hobby” he happens to train for three times a day. And that he’s going to the Games to win.
Roman Khrennikov (Russian Federation)
If he’s not the most well known rookie of the men’s bunch, Russia’s Roman Khrennikov is certainly the most decorated. He decidedly won the Europe regional in 2018, punched his ticket to the 2019 CrossFit Games with a fifth-place finish at the Dubai CrossFit Championship and won the CrossFit Italian Showdown. Yet, due to visa issues the last two years, Khrennikov has yet to compete at a CrossFit Games. Thanks to the online first stage of competition, the 25-year-old will finally have his chance to prove himself at the top of his sport.
Pete Shaw (Canada)
Though this may be his first year qualifying for the Games, Pete Shaw is well entrenched in the CrossFit world. The Ontario native co-owns CrossFit NCR along with former Games competitor Paul Tremblay and is a member of CrossFit HQ Seminar Staff. He’s also made three Regionals appearances since 2015. He earned his way to the 2020 Games in Argentina by taking top honors at the SouthFit CrossFit Challenge, decided by an exciting final event win.
Luke Schafer (USA)
Luke Schafer is no stranger to the Games. The 27-year-old out of Iowa competed in 2015 and 2019 in the team competition, but hadn’t cracked into the individual competition until this year. Schafer won the Games bid from the Mayhem Classic where he finished a strong second after Chandler Smith who had previously accepted his own invite. He balances CrossFit training with medical school, which limits his available time and energy. Look for him to thrive in the “grunt work” events like a ruck or chipper.
Justin Medeiros (USA)
Justin Medeiros turned heads in Ireland last November, beating out veterans Sean Sweeney, Will Moorad, Adrian Mundwiler and Tim Paulson to take the Filthy 150. Despite being just 21 years old, Medeiros boasts an impressive CrossFit resume: He started at just 13 years old, competed at his first of two Regionals competitions as an 18-year-old and placed 68th worldwide in the Open last year. Watch for this young gun to shake things up this year. You’ll recognize him by the trademark mullet hairstyle.
David Shorunke (UK)
After a respectable Regionals finish in 2014 and some team experience at the Games, David Shorunke punched his individual ticket last year in a sweet way. Shorunke placed third at the CrossFit Strength in Depth sanctional in 2019, and came back in January 2020 to win the event – in his hometown of London. The Brit now lives in Sweden and trains out of CrossFit Kungsholmen/Vici Athletics where you’ll see the 30-year-old compete in the online portion of the Games.
Griffin Roelle (USA)
Griffin Roelle’s athletic career has a firm foundation in football. The Georgia native was ranked as the number one high school receiver in the state and attended two NFL combines in 2014. After football didn’t work out, Roelle jumped into CrossFit and never looked back. He competed at the 2018 CrossFit Games with Team Dwala, placing 34th. He qualified through winning the 2020 Norwegian CrossFit Championship in February. Now, we’ll see what the 28-year-old self-dubbed “CrossFit Thor” can bring to the big stage.
Jay Crouch (Australia)
The Australian CrossFit Championship was one of the last Sanctional events to occur just before COVID-19 shutdowns, and native Jay Crouch seized the opportunity to snag the Games invite. Crouch beat out Games veteran and fellow Aussie James Newbury for the win. The 21-year-old has competed previously at the Games as part of the Reebok CrossFit Frankston team, but struck out on his own this year. Crouch is an electrician by day and trains at home in the evenings, as his gym is still closed due to COVID-19. His expectation for the 2020 Games?
“I have no expectations,” Crouch says. “I’m going to enjoy each workout as it comes and my result is what it is.”
Adam Davidson (Canada)
If there’s a “comeback kid” of this rookie roster, it’s Adam Davidson. The British Columbia native lost an invite to the 2016 CrossFit Games when he was no-repped on a rope climb at Regionals, knocking him out of Games qualification. Injuries plagued his next two years, capped off with an ACL tear in 2018. Davidson stepped back onto the competition floor in China, taking third place at the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge. He finally struck gold across the world in March, at the Brazil CrossFit Championship, punching his hard-earned ticket to the 2020 CrossFit Games.
2020 CrossFit Games Women’s Rookies
Kristine Best (USA)
After five years of Regionals appearances, Kristine Best finally found herself in a Games-qualifying spot in 2019 through the CrossFit Open. And a few weeks later, she had the wind knocked out of her sails: Her video for 19.1 showed inadequate squat depth. The penalty she received knocked her out of qualification for the 2019 CrossFit Games. Rather than be discouraged, Best chose to view this as an opportunity to improve her range of motion and, therefore, her ability as an athlete. Best qualified through the Open for this year’s Games, and the 30-year-old is hoping for “lighter, quicker” workouts.
Kendall Vincelette (USA)
Self-coached and self-motivated, Kendall Vincelette is one of the fittest registered nurses you’ll meet. The 26-year-old qualified handily for the 2020 CrossFit Games through her 15th-place Open finish after previous Regionals appearances in 2015 and 2017. In addition to working on physical strength, the Minnesota native admitted she’s been honing her mental game in preparation for CrossFit’s biggest event. “I used to break down in the middle of workouts, but now I can really find that dark place, and once I’m there I feel like I can push through anything,” Vincelette said.
Harriet Roberts (New Zealand)
Harriet Roberts dominated the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge in December 2019, winning four out of five events against veterans such as Alison Scudds. The Kiwi boasts seven years worth of Regionals appearances, five of which were as an individual. She’s stepped onto the CrossFit Games stage with teams in both 2015 and 2019, but the 28-year-old is ready to go it alone this year. The Australia resident will likely have a cheering squad going into the Games, as she coaches high school students in CrossFit during the day.
Andrea Solberg (Norway)
Norweigan Andrea Solberg balances CrossFit training with medical school after punching her ticket to the 2020 CrossFit Games. She competed shoulder-to-shoulder with well-knowns Sara Sigmundsdottir and Kristen Holte, ultimately placing fourth, but receiving the invite as those who finished ahead had previously qualified through the Open. The 24-year-old is managing workouts alone due to gym shutdowns, but maintaining a positive outlook going into the Games. “It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, just not because of training and competing, but all aspects of life. (I’m) trying to make the best out of the situation, accept the bad days, and appreciate the good days. (I’m) also learning a lot about myself during this time.” Solberg said.
Sanna Venäläinen (Finland)
Sanna Venalainen narrowly snagged the Norwegian CrossFit Games invite to the 2020 CrossFIt Games after a nail-biting finish. Venalainen previously competed at the European Regionals in 2018, placing 17th in a tough region. The 29-year-old previously competed in the CrossFit French Throwdown in 2019, placing 23rd.
Andrea Nisler (USA)
Games veteran but individual rookie, Andrea Nisler stood on the 2018 CrossFIt Games podium with team CrossFit OC3. After four years of team competition at the Games, Nisler qualified 15th in the world in the 2020 Open, originally only participating because the Dubai CrossFit Championship used it as a qualifier. A self-described team competitor, Nisler decided to move forward as an individual competitor after changes to the Games thwarted her team’s ability to compete.
Laura Clifton (New Zealand)
Relatively unknown, New Zealand native Laura Clifton broke onto the CrossFit competition scene in 2019 with a sixth-place finish at the Australian CrossFit Championship. She placed third in 2020, sending her to the Games, as first-place finisher Kara Saunders had previously qualified and Mia Hesketh declined to compete on a team. Clifton can move heavy loads, and she can move them quickly, so look for the 26-year-old to get under some barbells at this year’s Games.
Featured image: @kendallvincelette on Instagram, photo by @chriscoquyt