Semifinals: Week 1 Women’s Predictions

May 15, 20238 min read

Photo Credit – Athlete’s Eye

Africa and North America East Semifinals

For the women, week 1 of SemiFinals has 12 available qualifying spots for the NOBULL CrossFit Games this summer, 11 spots are allocated to the North America East field, and one spot is available in Africa. 

Africa Women’s Field

Last year’s female champion and Africa’s lone representative at the 2022 Games, Michelle Merand, is competing on a team this season. The other two women who joined her on the podium last year, Christina Livaditakis (2nd) and Michelle Basnett (3rd) are both in the field and are the two most likely candidates to take the lone qualifying spot at what is now called the REBEL Renegade Games, formerly The Fittest in Cape Town. 

Based on everything I know about both women, I believe they have both improved over the past twelve months. I believe it will come down to the two of them. In this particular case, I was waiting for the programming to come out before making a final decision. Two running dependent workouts hurt Basnett, but the overall strength and upper end skill required on the rest of the tests are in her favor. I’m giving Basnett the slight edge over Livaditakis this year

Michelle Basnett WZA 2023

Brian’s Africa Semifinal Women’s Picks

Africa: 1 spot
1Michelle Basnett
2Christina Livaditakis
3Gemma Rader
4Mariska Smit
5Tanha Bouffe
6Dina Swift
7Anneke Spies
8Mary Jamieson
9Laura Hume
10Gilmari Reyneke

North America East Women’s Field

Brooke Wells MACC 2022

With eleven total spots we won’t go into every single relevant athlete, but what needs to be known about this field is that half of last year’s top ten at the Games are in this competitive region. And that’s excluding Emma Cary who did not compete last season and Amanda Barnhart who missed the top ten (she was 14th) last season for the first time since 2018. 

This is basically the top of the class from every North American Semifinal last year:

  • Atlas Games: Emma Lawson 1st, Paige Powers 2nd
  • Granite Games: Mallory O’Brien 1st, Amanda Barnhart 2nd
  • MACC: Danielle Brandon 1st
  • Syndicate: Alexis Raptis 2nd, Paige Semenza 3rd (Haley Adams won but is not competing this year)
  • So at least the top finisher, and in three out of four cases the top two returning athletes from all four North American Semifinals are in the East this season.

This is an exceptionally young field at the top as well. It’s possible that the entire podium could be composed of women under 20 years old. 

Mallory O’Brien is the favorite, and would be in any Semifinal field, but I don’t think that’s the story here; her story comes at the Games. 

There are several women in this field who have something to prove:

  • Emma Lawson: Can the now 18-year old back up her dominant Semifinal performance at the Atlas Games against a perceived weak field last year with a strong showing against a known strong field in Orlando? 
  • Paige Powers: The 20-year old was nipping at Lawson’s heels in Montreal last year, and had a stellar offseason in winning the TYR Wodapalooza. Can solidify herself as a top ten threat at the Games with a good performance this weekend?
  • Danielle Brandon: “DB” was fourth at the Games last year, but for some reason seems to be left out of podium contending conversations, or at least considered in a second breath to a few others. Maybe she sends a message with a dominant showing at Semis. 
  • Emma Cary: This teenager is looking to re-establish herself as a major threat, particularly after Granite Games in 2021 when she was essentially a lunge or two away from winning. 
  • Brooke Wells: This veteran has yet to be mentioned, that’s how good this field is, and she’s riding an eight-year streak of qualifying for the Games. If she is able to make it nine, that would be a record in terms of consecutive qualifications in the women’s division. She’s coming off a fifth place finish at the Games last season, and if not for the elbow injury in 2021 she’d have been top five at the Games each of the last three years.
  • Alexis Raptis: This teen division alum cracked the top ten at the Games last year, and there is absolutely no reason to think she’s done anything but improve since then. It’s hard to pick her ahead of some of these women, but don’t think she’s not a podium threat either; it’s very tight at the top in this women’s Semifinal.

In the group behind these women are Semenza, Carolyne Prevost, Fee Saghafi, Shelby Neal, and Anhika Greer who will be vying for the few remaining Games spots. If all the aforementioned women do as expected they occupy 8 of the 11 available spots. Which would mean at least two of the five here miss the Games.

All of that is assuming there isn’t someone lurking behind that who is going to show up and do something none of us are expecting. A few of those sleeper candidates are Caroline Stanley, Sydney Wells, Ashleigh Wosny, Lindsey Porter, and Jordan Szewc. There’s almost always a big surprise, and even in such a top heavy field, the nature of these workouts can reward a consistent performance from one of these women when everything is said and done.

Brian’s North America East Women’s Picks

NA East: 11 spots
1Mallory O’Brien16Ashleigh Wosny
2Danielle Brandon17Lindsey Porter
3Emma Lawson18Jordan Szewc
4Emma Cary19Makenna Enslin
5Brooke Wells20Danielle Paran
6Paige Powers21Callista Lang
7Alexis Raptis22Molly McGrandy
8Amanda Barnhart23Lydia Fish
9Paige Semenza24Jordan Malm
10Carolyne Prevost25Jessica Kalagian
11Feeroozeh Saghafi26Roran Scott
12Shelby Neal27Katelynn Sanders
13Anikha Greer28Tori Dyson
14Sydney Wells29Nicole Gibson-Burke
15Caroline Stanley30Samantha Pugh

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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