To say any athlete is going to dominate at CrossFit Regionals is always an iffy proposition; while there are good bets year in and year out, there are at least as many veterans who come up short on a workout (or four). Game day conditions include a million variables, and what’s done in practice won’t always translate into a dominating performance on the competition floor. Basically, while we like guessing who’s going to do well in what CrossFit Regional workout, we’re not planning on retiring based off bets made.
But in the spirit of fun — and so we can link back to this article in “I told you so” situations on the off chance we’re right — here are our predictions for folks to watch on Day 1 of the 2016 CrossFit Regionals competitions, along with some “logic” behind each athlete’s inclusion.
If you disagree with one or more of our picks (likely), let us know who you’re keeping an eye on in the comments. And maybe tag your dark horse to give them a little extra motivation as we close in on competition day.
Infinity-time CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning has already set the mark to beat at 6:11 on this event of ascending weight/decreasing rep squat snatches. It’s a good workout for Rich; it’s also a good workout for Jon Pera, who won the CrossFit Games snatch ladder in 2015 but is sitting out this season to spend more time with his family.
Back before Mat Fraser as a household fitness name, he was doing moderately heavy snatches very quickly. Check out his Isabel at 225 pounds from early 2014, right before he went on a run that led him to back-to-back CrossFit Games silver medals.
Mat’s an Olympic lifter by background, and because the East Regional is the last weekend, we’re betting he’ll try to make a statement by coming out of the gate with a record Event 1 performance.
Elijah “EZ” Muhammad
EZ lives by #liftheavyoftenasineveryday, and when he’s not accidentally dropping snatches on his head in front of thousands of fans, he’s making really heavy snatches look pretty. Event 2 will be tough for the long-limbed Muhammad, so he’ll come out swinging and looking for a top finish on Event 1.
Sam’s strong as an ox, and his performance during last year’s Event 1 “Randy” showed he’s good at cycling light snatches. This event lands somewhere in between, and we bet Sam will make a good run at it.
If the workout allowed for power snatches, Gamboa might be a runaway favorite; he caught 270 pounds ridiculously high during last year’s South Regional (seriously, it looked like a muscle snatch). With that strength, he’s definitely one to watch, even if he’d prefer to catch the lifts above parallel.
We didn’t actually put Kara Webb on this list because she’s strong — that we all know. We put Kara Webb on this list because she’s got short levers and a ridiculous engine, and she’s great at moving moderate-to-heavy loads well under fatigue. Expect her to blast through the first few barbells like they’re PVC pipe — and then keep blasting through heavier weights in the same fashion.
A podium finisher in her first year at the Reebok CrossFit Games (and the Games leader for much of the competition), Sigmundsdottir posts plenty of barbell cycling videos on Instagram, and her engine is never really in doubt. She’s strong, her technique is increasingly dialed in, and she knows a stacked Meridian Regional means even the best can’t afford to take a workout at just 90%.
Percevecz is strong and hungry to make a statement in a season where many are calling her a dark horse candidate for Games qualification.
Ence snatches 200 pounds like it’s on a schedule, and while her snatch setup has never been the fastest in the world, we bet she’s been practicing her barbell ladders alllll off season.
Colleen Fotsch snatches 215 pounds (at least). Colleen Fotsch has a very good engine, as evidenced by her Open Event 15.5 win from last year. Colleen Fotsch really wants to make the Games, and while her 2015 Regionals performance wasn’t up to what a lot of people were expecting, we’ve got a feeling 2016 is shaping up a bit differently.
Sarah Hopping Estrella
Estrella qualified for Regionals right on the cusp, and while we don’t think she’s a strong candidate for a top 5 finish, she is among the strongest female competitors in functional fitness. Expect her to make those last 175 pound barbells look like cake (assuming her endurance allows her to hit the previous barbells under the allotted time caps).
Okay, that’s a lot of strict muscle-ups. And if those weren’t taxing enough, add in some strict handstand push-ups to further tax the triceps and some kettebell snatches to do more damage on the grip/shoulders. The athletes who succeed here will need a good base of gymnastics conditioning, and that’s not built between event announcements and Regional weekend.
Aegidius is hungry for a return to Carson after just missing out on qualification in 2014 and 2015. He moves incredibly well and has a strong upper body. If Aegidius paces himself well and isn’t too shot from Event 1, expect him to make a Meridian leaderboard move at the end of Day 1.
Bridges is known for his strong gymnastics cycling, and after some Open controversy, he wants to silence the critics. Oh, and we’re pretty sure he wants to qualify for the Games again after a disappointing 2015. Duh.
Those handstand push-ups are gonna be a joke for him.
One of the “other” Smith bros (Ben, Alec, and Dane all qualified for Regionals as individuals), Alec as a significant gymnastics background and is well-poised for a great performance on Event 2. His Olympic lifting and barbell work is also strong, so Day 1 could see him toward the top of the Atlantic leaderboard (and leading World’s Fittest Brother Ben Smith has got to be good motivation, right?).
If you’ve never heard of Irving Hernandez, please watch him do pull-ups, then continue reading this article:
No, those aren’t strict muscle-ups, but you get the idea. Hernandez is back in good shape after missing out on Regionals qualification in 2015.
Andali missed out on the 2015 Regionals in heartbreaking fashion after an Achilles tear. But that off time let her dial in her upper body strength and gymnastics, and she’s looking strong (overall) for a Games run this year.
The 2010 CrossFit Games Champion may not be a perennial contender anymore, but she qualified as an individual and is still a guru when it comes to gymnastics cycling (as they pertain to CrossFit workouts).
Letendre is one of seemingly infinite female Games athletes to recently hit 200 pounds on the snatch, so there’s a good chance she belongs in part 1 of this article, too. But the winner of the 2015 Games push/pull workout excels at handstand push-ups and has the short levers necessary for fast, efficient cycle times with these movements.
We ALL want biceps like Briggs. The 2013 CrossFit Games champ has excelled at upper body gymnastics and strength since a knee injury sidelined her in 2012. She’s kept that as a strength while improving her barbell game, and her engine is second to known.
Foucher has said she’s competing in this year’s Regionals for fun, but we have a tough time believing she’ll bring anything but her A game. She’s great at high-rep gymnastics and even finished 8th in last year’s rowing-strict handstand push-up-pull-up workout at last year’s Central Regional — on one leg.