Photo credit: Ava Kitzi
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It was the story of two groups of three in the women’s peloton at the Granite Games. At the top of the Games veteran rankings Mal O’Brien, Amanda Barnhart, and Dani Speegle were the class of the field all weekend. They combined for five event wins and had only one finish outside the top eight all weekend.
- O’Brien’s 576 out of a possible 600 points is the type of dominance we’re looking for when it comes to an athlete who can challenge for a podium spot at the Games.
- Barnhart was very quiet this weekend, but like fellow Comptrain athlete Cole Sager last week at MACC, was never in danger of missing his fifth consecutive Games.
- For Speegle, this one has to feel good. Many people questioned her ability to fight in a tough women’s field with two long and brutal practices over the weekend. Well, she put those doubts to rest with hugely impressive fifth and twelfth finishes on those on her fourth straight ticket to Madison.
At the bubble it boiled down to three women for two places. At the start of the day Kloie Wilson was fourth, Alex Gazan finished second and Games veteran Emily Rolfe was outside looking in a sixth seated position. Before the fifth event, they were separated by 23 points.
Event 5 was in Rolfe’s wheelhouse and she did not disappoint, taking second and finishing fifth. Wilson hung on with a sixth-place finish and maintained her grip on fourth going into the final. For Gazan, she slipped to sixth place after an eighth place finish. With the legless rope climb event looming, the gap between four and six was sixteen points.
Gazan took the lead early and never gave up, winning the sixth event, taking 100 points and surging back into a qualifying position for the Games; she will make her Games debut later this summer. Rolfe showed more of his veteran sense with a fourth-place finish to lock in the third Games trip of his career.
For Wilson, this finish hurts a lot; however, she finished between fourth and seventh in each event and still missed the Games by five points. She will compete in the Last Chance Qualifier with Fee Saghafi and Kelly Stone, but it will be hard to swallow.
The drama was just as real on the men’s side, but this time for the overall victory and the final places at the Games. To start the day, Brent Fikowski was third overall. He won the fifth event and moved up to second, behind Phil Toon by four points. It would be a winner who would take it all in the final between the two. Fikowski did enough, placing fifth in the final and Toon twelfth to claim victory at the Granite Games. For Toon, it’s a great finish in a big group, fans should be excited to see him in the mix as a rookie in August.
Even though there were 104 points between third place Colten Mertens and ninth place Matt Dlugos Going into the final, when Dlugos won it and Mertens took 27th place, there was a chaotic shuffle in the standings.
Games veterans held steady amid the chaos Travis Mayer, who finished second in the legless rope climbs to grab third place overall and an impressive eighth CrossFit Games appearance; and Samuel Kwan who after battling illness last year at Semis has had a big rebound this time around. A pair of third-place finishes on the final day saw him move from eighth to fourth and earn a ticket to the Games. Don’t forget he finished second in 2020 and has won two events at the Games under his belt. His return to the Games certainly adds experience and depth to the field.
That left a spot, and it narrowed down to twelve points between the three guys. Dlugos’ 100 points take him to 424. Minnesota native Nick Mathew struggled in the fifth event with a 13th, but bounced back impressively with a fourth in the final. Those points put him ahead of Dlugos by four points and up to 428. Meanwhile, Mertens, who was the overall leader at the start of the final day, took just ten points in the final event. . Those ten points, however, gave him 438 points in total and meant he took fifth place at the Granite Games for the second year in a row.
While the individuals had everyone on the edge of their seats, there wasn’t too much drama on the floor in terms of the team side standings, but the stories of the qualifying teams are still meaningful in them. themselves.
- CrossFit Invictus has bolstered its roster this year with the addition of Joshua Al-Chamaa in a bid to step onto the podium this season. The first step is to win the semi-final, which they have now done convincingly by finishing in the top three in all six events.
- Finishing second is ABO CrossFitwho built his team this year and looked pretty impressive this weekend with all finishes of fourth or better.
- For CrossFit Move Fast Lift Heavy Returning to the Games this year is quite emotional for the two returning team members, Christian Harris and Will Carter. They had thought they would win a trip to the Games last year and eventually had it canceled due to a failed drug test (link to last year’s article?). Going back to the drawing board, bringing two new women into the fold and coming back a year later to start over is a testament to their commitment to the pursuit. Closing out the weekend with their only win at the event only adds to the sweetness of it even more.
- Just like the OBA, CrossFit Highest Climb make their list this year. They look good on paper, but that doesn’t guarantee anyone anything. They backed him up by showing up in Minnesota and managed to stay in the top five from start to finish of the competition.
- Fifth place goes to a team we couldn’t see live in the semi-finals last year, however, they made the Games by qualifying fourth in line at the Atlas Games. CrossFit Rhapsody had to fend off challenges from several teams over the past two days, but ultimately did exactly what they needed in the final event, beating the breathless teams and hitting their way home to the Games.
The big picture: We now have 15 of the 20 men’s, women’s and teams qualified from outside North America, with all three US semifinals complete and dusted. Next week the action will move north of the border to the Atlas Games in Montreal where the last North American spots will be up for grabs.