First the Fittest Woman and now the second fittest…

Last week Sam Briggs failed to even quality for the CrossFit Games in Carson, California, much less win her second CrossFit Games in a row. This week the lady who finished second in 2013 failed to advance out of her region as Lindsey Valenzuela failed to advance out of the Southern California region. She was bested by Valerie Voboril (finished third in the 2013 CrossFit Games), Becca Voigt (advancing to her seventh CrossFit Games) and Lauren Fisher (20 yeard old phenom who was recently featured on the cover of USAW magazine).

The difference between Valenzuela and Briggs was that Valenzuela didn’t have one really bad event like Briggs did, she just didn’t do really well in any event. Last weekend Briggs won three events, but finished 26th in the handstand walk event. This weekend Valenzuela had two second place finishes (including the snatch event, which many would think she would win, easily), two sixth place finished, one seventh and two eighth place finishes. She didn’t do really poorly in any event, but consistently finished behind the three ladies who are going to Carson. She just plain got beat. It wasn’t a butt kicking as Fisher finished only nine points ahead of her, but when Fisher destroyed Valenzuela in the pullup/OHS event it was a resounding “I’m here” moment for Fisher.

Fisher had been coming for years, including going to the Games last year on one of the Invictus teams and being a highly accomplished junior weightlifter. Valenzuela did OK in the Open, finishing seventh, but apparently her and Sam had a few holes in their training. Well, I can’t say that for Sam – her loss came in a one try only event of a highly specific skill. Valenzuela just didn’t have enough gas, or fitness, to advance. In almost every event she never even looked to dominate with the exception of the 50’s event in which she finished second. Even in that event, however, she charged out off of the rings first and headed back to the wall balls to only be passed by Voigt, who never looked back to take first in the event.

This year we will likely have a new women’s champ as I don’t think Annie Thorisdottir will win. Voboril looks poised.

On the Men’s side in SoCal Kenny Leverich showed that he is continuing to up his CrossFit game by winning the region that everyone, including myself, handed to Dan Bailey a few months ago. I think most everyone, with the exception of those in Leverich’s camp, assumed Bailey and Josh Bridges would take 1-2 in the SoCal region and then third place would be up for grabs. That wasn’t the case. Leverich stormed out to first place on Friday and never looked back, winning the region by five points over Bridges and an astounding 20 points over Bailey.

Bridges won the events you would assume he would win – the events with body weight movements (he won events three and four) and he also did really well in the long suckfest that is the 50’s event. Bailey on the other hand had two second place finished and a third, but he also had two tenth place finishes and a 21st place finish in the final event (he really, really struggled with 205 overhead). It was certainly shocking to see Bailey perform so badly. Of course, he still qualified for the Games, but you would expect him to have a much better showing.

And then there was Leverich who won the snatch event and then was just consistent the rest of the weekend. After the snatch event he went on to finish eighth, fifth, third, third, fifth and sixth to beat out Bridges for the top spot in the podium. As an avid CrossFit Youtube’r I have seen some impressive videos of Leverich (his 155 pound one hand snatch from a few years ago stands out) and he has always done well in the Orange Coast Throdown and it appears he is ready to make his name well know at Carson, too.

Before Regionals started I predicted the following for SoCal:

Male: Dan Bailey, Josh Bridges, Kenny Leverich
Female: Lindsey Valenzuela, Valerie Voboril, Lauren Fisher
Notes: Leverich had a rough Open, but he comes on strong for Regionals and finishes third behind the two guys who really matter from this region. Fisher replaces Rebecca Voigt who is done being competitive on a national level.

I was pretty close except that I underestimated Voigt. I thought her recent performances at some local events coupled with her performance last year was a sign of age creeping. Wrong.

As for the other regions…

My predictions for Asia
Male: Mikko Aronpaa, Phil Hesketh, Eric Carmody
Female: Jennifer Scott, Eva Clarke, Marlene Andersson
Actual results
Male: Eric Carmody, Phil Hesketh, Michael Mogard
Female: Marlene Andersson, Candice Ford, Yuko Sakuyama

Aronpaa was going strong until the legless event where he finished 32nd and killing his chances of getting back to Carson.

Mid Atlantic, my predictions
Male: Ben Smith, Nate Schrader, Gary Helmick
Female: Anna Tunnicliffe, Christy Adkins, Emily Friedman
Actual results:
Male: Ben Smith, Nate Schrader, Jordan Troyan
Female: Gretchen Kittelberger, Christy Adkins, Anna Tunnicliffe

Kittleberger had a really strong showing after years of being just on the outside looking in. The attorney for CrossFit made the games. Friedman was right there until she struggled – horribly – with the overhead squats in the final event and finishing 19th in the event. She finished 14 spots behind Tunnicliffe in the event…and…ouch…finished 13 points behind her in the overall standings at the end of the weekend. She had third place locked up until she lost it on the final event.

On the Men’s side Smith didn’t dominate as much as I thought he would, winning by only five points over Schrader, but he still won his fifth straight regional title.

The last region from this past weekend was the South Central. My predictions for this region were:
Male: Roy Gamboa, Cameron Wilson, Braden Torrez
Female: Cassidy Lance, Karen Pierce, Megan Norris
Actual results
Male: Jordan Cook, Jeff Germond, Richard Bohlken
Female: Jenn Jones, Cassidy Lance, Amanda Schwartz

A complete whiff on the men’s side for me. Not sure what I was thinking when I didn’t pick Jenn Jones, too. Something about this region just doesn’t pique my interest so I haven’t ever followed it too closely.

Next weekend is the last and probably the best weekend of viewing in my mind. Southwest is of course a favorite of mine and NorCal is a ton of fun to watch with Khalipa, Pachelli, Maddox, Fisher, Labaw and the new NorCal team with Oldroyd and Barber. It’s like the end of a great fireworks show.

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