The Rogue Invitational is the premier showcase for athletes in the CrossFit off-season. Twenty of the fittest men and twenty of the fittest women had the opportunity to compete in the second most lucrative event of the calendar year (behind the CrossFit Games).
Even though the field is small relative to other major competitions like the Games and Wodapalooza, only a few athletes receive most of the attention, and appropriately so. However, further down the leaderboard, several notable performances have gone largely unnoticed.
Below are four impressive performances that seem to have flown under the radar that should garner attention:
Most are aware that Angonese missed out on Semifinals in 2022 due to failure to submit a video on time during Quarterfinals. It was unfortunate for her, particularly this year with so many regular heavy hitters not at the European Semifinals. Notable female European contenders missing from the 2022 Semifinals include Annie Thorisdottir (Team), Kristin Holte (retired), Emma Tall (injury), and Emilia Leppanen (Masters). All four qualified for the Games in 2021.
Angonese has been in contention before. She ranked 12th at the European Regional in 2018, eighth at the Lowlands Throwdown in 2021 and sixth in the Last Chance Qualifier in 2021. With several open spots in Europe on the women’s side, it was a considerable letdown to have her season end early.
In the wake of that, Angonese competed at the French Throwdown (placed 10th), the Madrid Championships (placed third), the Rogue online qualifier (placed first), and the Dubai online qualifier (placed eighth).
Angonese finished 11th in the 2022 Rogue Invitational — the best finish amongst the online qualifiers. This was especially impressive down the stretch, as she scored her best five event finishes in the last five events. She was sixth on The Duel II, sixth on The Texas Oak, second on the Snatch and Press, third on The Goblet, and 10th in the finale, Heavy Grace.
Throughout those five workouts, Angonese showed her most significant asset — her strength — in most of those workouts. However, the standout performance is undoubtedly from The Goblet. She ranked third in that workout, which included high-volume ring muscle ups, moderate-volume, lightweight squatting, and a significant amount of time under tension running up and down the hill. It suggested a baseline of fitness coupled with the ability to execute high-skill gymnastics under fatigue.
It feels safe to say that if everything goes smoothly in the build-up process, the 29-year-old from Belgium is likely to factor into the equation at the European Semis in 2022.
Fernandez competed on Team CrossFit Invictus throughout the 2021 Games season. His team ultimately took third place in a competitive team division at the 2022 Games. Perhaps the most significant standout moment for Fernandez was his 440-pound front squat in the “Strong” team event Thursday morning in North Park.
There were quite a few men in Rogue’s qualifier who were removed from contention due to their inability to follow directions accurately. Still, it seems Fernandez likely would have qualified regardless. He was fourth, fourth, second, and third on the four workouts, respectively, proving to be strong and fit.
There was speculation about how well Fernandez would do against one of the strongest men’s fields we’ve ever seen because he hasn’t logged too much Individual competition experience. He hasn’t made an Individual run at the Games. This was his first Rogue Invitational. He’s never competed in Dubai, and last year he placed 28 out of 37 at Wodapalooza, with his best finish being 15th on the improvised version of Dale following a rain delay on the final day.
It seems Fernandez has come a long way since then. The start of his week was pretty slow, with five straight event finishes between 12th on Back Attack, once again showing his squatting strength, and 18th on Ski Bar, where he could not finish the second set of muscle ups before the time cap.
Much like Angonese, Fernandez went on a run in event six, The Duel II. That workout was his shining moment. Despite getting a no-rep in the middle rounds (something that eliminated several others across the event duration), he made it to the finals against Justin Medeiros, where Fernandez was edged out by less than one second.
Fernandez scored a fourth-place finish on The Texas Oak — a one-rep max log lift — and a ninth-place finish on Snatch and Press. Those would end up being his only three top-10 finishes, but it proved enough to beat five of the 16 athletes who competed at the 2021 CrossFit Games as Individuals.
It’s a very different experience to do this level of Individual competition rather than go through it with a team. Fernandez’s performance, though largely unnoticed, suggests that he might have something to say about an Individual Games qualifying position in the future.
Olivia Kerstetter and Jack Farlow
These two were the youngest competitors in each division. Both have experience in the Teenage division at the CrossFit Games. Kerstetter’s success is more well-known because she won her divisions (14-15 in 2021 and 16-17 in 2022) over the past two seasons. In Farlow’s lone appearance (2019), he placed sixth behind athletes like Dallin Pepper, Tudor Magda, and James Sprague.
Young women such as Haley Adams, Mal O’Brien, Emma Cary, and Emma Lawson have succeeded in breaking into the elite Women’s Division. On the men’s side, it hasn’t proven easy, with three-time Games champion Pepper not managing to qualify until his third year of eligibility. He scored the lowest relative rank in the Men’s division (19th) at the Games compared to all four women (at younger ages) in the Women’s division in their rookie season.
Kerstetter outperformed Farlow at the 2022 Rogue Invitational. She placed 16th and had four top-10 finishes. Those finishes came in predominantly strength-based workouts: eighth on Back Attack, 10th on The Turtle, 10th on The Texas Oak, and a stunning second-place finish in the finale, Heavy Grace.
Farlow finished 19th overall and likely would have been last if not for Lazar Đukić’s injury in the opening event. That is fine for Farlow, though, as this competition was always about experience, not results. Nevertheless, he had some impressive showings in strength-speed tests.
His first solid performance, like Kerstetter, came in Back Attack, where he took 11th. Two events later, he again showed excellent leg capacity for his lunging capacity, placing ninth on The Turtle. Finally, like Kerstetter again, Farlow won his heat in Heavy Grace and placed fourth in the event.
The lesson to be learned from the youngest athlete in each division at Rogue this year? You certainly need the fitness to get to the big show (earn it through the online qualifier), but once you’re there, it pays to be strong.
Featured image: @manon_angonese.whiteshark on Instagram