Photo Credit: Northern California Classic
When the Regional format of the CrossFit Games season was abandoned after the 2018 season it left California, at one point considered the Mecca of CrossFit, without a premiere competition. It was because of this void that the Northern California Classic was created. This year’s version promises to be their best yet for the competition which starts on Friday, September 8 and concludes on Sunday, September 10.
The three-day competition will return to Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. for the second-straight year. This year’s competition will see over 750 athletes competing across 11 divisions with over $120,000 in cash prizes available. The elite division will feature $69,000 in cash prizes.
The large prize purse has attracted some of the top CrossFit athletes from the west coast including many past and current Games athletes.
The events have not been released yet but all workouts will be held outdoors and past programming indicates that athletes could expect some sort of swimming event in Lake Natoma as well as the utilization of the many trails in the area.
Men’s Preview and Predictions
There are two men in the elite individual field who just competed at the 2023 CrossFit Games in the team division and many more who competed at the West Semifinal in Pasadena, Calif. this past May. Based on the most current roster, here are our top-5 picks for the elite men’s division:
|Luis Oscar Moya
Paulson returns to individual competition after competing on the East Nashville PRVN team that finished as the runner-up at the Games this past season. A seven-time Games veteran, including six appearances as an individual athlete, heads into the competition as the favorite.
Mexico’s Luis Oscar Moya missed qualifying for the Games by two spots at the West Semifinal this year, placing 11th after finishing 12th Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge in 2022. The teen division alum, is one of the stronger men in the field.
Phillip Muscarella (19th), Rafael Sancen (26th), Adams McAdams (33rd) and Chad Kackert (42nd) all competed at the West Semifinal as individuals.
At just 22 years old, Tyler Soderback made his Games debut this year as a member of the CrossFit Invictus Unconquerable team joining Paulson as the two lone Games athletes from 2023.
Fan favorite and four-time Games veteran Sean Sweeney makes his return to individual competition after announcing his retirement from Games competition in 2022.
Malachi Bennett returns as the defending NorCal Classic champion as do fellow 2022 podium finishers Hans Koellnberger and Gabriel Meier.
Women’s Preview and Predictions
The women’s field has a competitive mixture of Games athletes both past and present. A few of the athletes are names that have won Game’s titles and the NorCal Classic presents them the opportunity to compete at the individual level. Based on the most current roster, here are our top-5 picks for the elite women’s division:
Sydney Wells made her Games debut in August and finished 28th just two years after becoming a full-time athlete. She was impressive in her rookie appearance with two top-10 finishes. The NorCal Classic will be just her sixth individual live competition and second outside the Games season.
Brittany Weiss and Andrea Nisler are fresh off competing against each other at the Games in the team division. It was Weiss and her Invictus team that finished ahead of the heavily-favored East Nashville PRVN that Nisler was on to win the coveted team title.
Both athletes are no strangers to individual competitions however as Nisler (a nine-time team athlete at the Games) has experience competing without a team at competitions like the Dubai CrossFit Championships (2022), Zelos Games (2022) and The Fittest Experience (2021). During the 2020 Games season, Nisler competed as an individual at the 2020 Games after the team division was cancelled due to the global pandemic and placed 10th.
Weiss has three years of Games experience on a team including two podium finishes the last two seasons. Weiss dipped her toe into individual competition last offseason, competing at TYR Wodapalooza and the Zelos Games.
NorCal could be the start of a very busy offseason for Lauren Fisher as she will compete the Rogue Invitational in October and the Dubai Fitness Championship in December. At just 29 years old, Fisher is already a legend in the sport having competed in seven Games both as a member of a team and as an individual. This past season she just missed out at a Games invite, placing 12th in the West Semifinal.
Another Games veteran in the field is Canadian legend Carolyne Prevost. She has competed in three CrossFit Games and just missed out on her fourth this year as she placed 15th and just eight points out of a qualifying spot in the highly competitive America East Semifinal.
Some other names to keep an eye on include Elizabeth Wishart who has competed at a high level at TYR Wodapalooza and The Fittest Experience this past January, finishing second in the latter. Nicole Burke is no stranger to California having competed in the 2017 California Regional before competing in the 2021 and 2023 Semifinals. In 2021 she just missed out on a Games invite, placing eighth at the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge and getting another shot at the Last-Chance Qualifier.
Hannah Hall returns to defend her 2022 NorCal Classic title that she won as a 21-year old. A Game’s teenage division alum (2018, 16-17 year old division), she competed at her first Semifinal this year, placing 37th in Pasadena.
Another Games teen division alum competing is Sequoia Barrera, who competed at the 2017 Games in what some consider the most talented collection of teen girl competitors ever, placing eighth. She also competed at the 2018 West Regional and the 2022 Syndicate Crown Semifinal, placing 30th and 12th respectively.
Emilie Schneider and Ivy Simonis are 2022 NorCal Classic athletes who placed in the top-5 returning this weekend.