Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
North America West, Oceania, and South America
For the men, week 2 of Semifinals has 14 available qualifying spots for the NOBULL CrossFit Games, nine spots are allocated to the North America West field, three spots are allocated to Oceania, and two spots are allocated to South America.
South America Men’s Field
For anyone who is not named Guilherme Malheiros or Agustin Richelme it’s a tough path to the Games in South America. Malheiros won half the events at the South America Semifinal last season and after the second place finisher was dismissed due to a drug failure, Malheiros had a 101 point lead over second place Richelme.
Richelme in turn had a 53-point gap to fellow Argentinian Nicolas Bidarte, and the points tapered off from there. Richelme actually beat Malheiros by 12 points at the 2021 Semifinal, where they both had at least a 40 point gap to the next closest competitor.
If you are looking for a few sleeper picks that could upset the two favorites in South America, Benjamin Gutierrez, Kaique Cerveny, and Esteban Ospina are a few names athletes to keep an eye out for. The men’s field is actually quite talented in South America these days, there are just two men at the top that seem to have a lock on the Games spots; so if anyone else wants one, they need to step up and take it.
Brian’s South America Men’s Picks
|South America: 2 Spots|
|10||Lucas De Rosa|
Oceania Men’s Field
Last years’ Torian Pro winner, Jay Crouch, is in the field again and looks to have as clear a path to the Games as anyone, anywhere (despite only having three spots available). The next three finishers at Semis last year (Ricky Garard, Bayden Brown, and Royce Dunne; in that order) are not in the field. Garard is injured, Dunne is competing on a team (see our team article!), and Brown is taking the season off.
This means opportunity is abundant and we will (likely) have some new blood in the men’s division coming out of Oceania. The next highest finisher last year, Jake Douglas, has been looking great, but he’s also 32 years old. Compare that to some of the other likely candidates in Bayley Martin (23), Peter Ellis (21), and Will Kearney (21), and the opportunity seems much more imminent for him that the others as this may be his last best chance to qualify as an individual to the CrossFit Games.
There’s a big wildcard in the as well with James Newbury. It’s not entirely clear how much he’s focused on training for this, he is clearly still insanely fit. We’ll find out soon enough whether he can threaten the podium. If that is the case, he could qualify for to the Games for the 5th time, and first time since 2019 when he had a career best finish of 5th place.
Brian’s Oceania Men’s Picks
|Oceania: 3 spots|
North America West Men’s Field
Right off the bat it just has to be said that this is a devastatingly difficult field to pick nine men from. Pretty much anyway you go there are going to be men outside the cutline and it just won’t feel right. However, that’s the competitive nature of this sport- and I absolutely love it.
Justin Medeiros, Pat Vellner, and Brent Fikowksi are the three men in this field who I believe have nothing to worry about. After that there are nine men who I believe will be battling for the remaining six spots.
Samuel Kwant: There are probably some of you who believe he should be in the above list. And I hear that. However, Kwant’s career hasn’t been super consistent (having missed the Games in both 2018 and 2021). From a fitness and potential perspective, he’s the best of this group. But for now, I don’t quite have him in the safe at all costs category.
Cole Sager: Attempting to qualify for his tenth consecutive CrossFit Games. It’s really hard to bet against him. Eventually father time will catch up, but he still finished 13th at the Games last year, and was never in jeopardy of missing the Games at Semis. There are a lot of young talented athletes in the field who are coming, but I still think Sager has the savvy to navigate the weekend and make it through.
Nick Mathew: After receiving a backfill invite last season following a drug failure, Mathew has capitalized on every opportunity. Finishing 14th at the Games as a rookie, including two memorable event wins (Speed Skill Medley and Sandbag Ladder), 12th at Rogue picking up another event win (Back Attack), and 6th at Wodapalooza including three top three finishes. Can he keep the hot streak going, or will he be flirting with the bubble as we’re accustomed to seeing.
Cole Greashaber: He’s about as quiet as they come, but don’t be surprised if you see him coming. He’s 23 years old, but he’s been at it for a long time. Despite making the Games last season, I think people finally saw the real potential he has when he placed 5th at Wodapalooza this past January, which included an event win on the parallette handstand hold. He checks most of the boxes; the only real concern is with the lifting. His two outlier finishes in Miami were on the max clean and jerk (he was 17th with a lift of 345 lbs) and on Miami Meat Market, which included dumbbell bench press that is coming again with Linda.
Tudor Magda: The youngest in this group, and like Greashaber, Magda is hunting his second consecutive Games trip. He had a bit of an active offseason winning the live version of the Zelos Games and then finishing 10th in Miami at Wodapalooza. I think it’s good for Magda to get some of those competition reps. In particular, his 322 lb snatch at Zelos Games should carry over nicely to test 4, and his second place finish on “Start Fast, Finish Strong” in Miami could indicate a strong finish to the weekend on test 7 as well. The big questions will be answered on tests 1, 2, and 5 for Magda; if he mitigates damage there, a couple home runs can keep him in it.
Chandler Smith: After somewhat strangely missing the Games last season in an uncharacteristic fashion, it was later learned that may have been related to something off the competition floor. This year isn’t necessarily going smoothly for him either, as he competed in the Quarterfinals with a broken wrist. There is a lot of demand on the wrist in the Semifinal programming, so if that is lingering and hinders him in any way it could be difficult to make it given the depth and talent of the field. It would be disheartening not to have him at the Games again, especially after taking second at the Rogue Invitational in the offseason; so here’s to hoping the wrist is strong enough for us to see the full display of what Chandler has to offer.
Colten Mertens: Mertens has made it a habit of sneaking into the CrossFit Games. He was fifth two years ago, and appeared to be fifth last year before a drug failure bumped him to fourth. In both years Mathew was one spot behind him. Last year in particular we saw an incredible version of Mertens at Semis. He placed top five in four events, 11th on the long test with machines and sled, and 27th on the legless rope climbs. There are a lot of machines (5 out of 7 tests), legless rope climbs, and two very running dependent workouts. No one pounds their weaknesses into the ground in the offseason more than him, and I believe he’s the fittest he’s ever been; I’m just not sure it’s going to be enough with these tests and this field.
Mitchel Stevenson: He’s most likely the name in this group that will catch you off guard, but it really shouldn’t. Sixth at Regionals in 2017, fifth in 2018. Eighth at Semifinals in 2011, sixth in the last chance qualifier that same year (he competed team in 2021 and his team made the Games). He’s actually quite similar to Mathew in terms of his skill set. Strong, stable, good skills, and a lot of experience. I think a lot of people counted him out last year and were surprised how well he did. I have a sneaky suspicion this set of tests is quite good for him and he’ll be lurking a lot closer to the cut line than most are expecting.
William Leahy IV: Probably the most popular “underdog” pick of the entire Semifinals. He ran off event finishes of first, seventh, fourth, and 13th at the MACC last season to finish out the weekend. But he started with finishes of 19th and 23rd that anchored him out of contention. The crazy thing about Leahy is how short of time he’s been at it, and how good he’s already gotten. It’s always nice to have the homerun potential, and Leahy is certainly a threat to win test 1, and possibly a threat to set the world record on test 5. Very curious to see what happens during tests 2, 3 and 4; he can probably only afford one finish outside the top half between those three tests if he wants any chance.
Brian’s North America West Men’s Picks
|NA West: 9 spots|
|1||Justin Medeiros||16||Jacob Marlow|
|2||Patrick Vellner||17||Scott Tetlow|
|3||Brent Fikowski||18||Phillip Muscarella|
|4||Samuel Kwant||19||Matt Poulin|
|5||Nick Mathew||20||Luis Oscar Mora|
|6||Cole Greashaber||21||Roldan Goldbaum|
|7||Cole Sager||22||Jack Rozema|
|8||Mitchel Stevenson||23||Rafael Sancen|
|9||Tudor Magda||24||Brian Huynh|
|10||Chandler Smith||25||Chris Ibarra|
|11||Colten Mertens||26||Travon Benton|
|12||William Leahy IV||27||Daniel Kuc|
|13||Leonel Franco||28||Matthew Greene|
|14||Anthony Davis||29||Drake Lewis|
|15||John Wood||30||CJ Gerald|