Other than the CrossFit Games themselves, The Fittest Experience (TFX) has to be the longest running CrossFit competition. Starting back in 2008, this will be the 16th iteration of the competition. This year there are over 1200 athletes competing in over 30 divisions all competing at the Williamson County Expo Center.
For the second year in a row, gyms across the US hosted single day TFX Throwdown competitions with the opportunity to qualify on a global leaderboard for the finals in Taylor, Texas; 42 teams from the TFX Throwdowns will be amongst the competing athletes this weekend.
New this year to TFX is the one day Indy Throwdown opportunity in Rookie, Intermediate, and Kids divisions for non-qualified athletes to test their fitness while on site. This year 86 athletes are slated to compete in 10 Indy Throwdown divisions.
There are three pro divisions at TFX: Men, Women, and Teams. There are 20 men, 18 women, and 15 teams on the pro rosters, making for a pretty tight and competitive field. All three divisions have 6 workouts on tap for the three day competition; details for the workouts for all divisions can be found here.
There are two CrossFit Games individual athletes in the field:
- Abigail Domit was 26th at the Games this past summer, and placed 5th at TFX last year and was 3rd the year before that.
- Sydney Michalyshen qualified for the Games in both 2021 (25th) and 2022 (31st) before narrowly missing out at the North American West Semifinals last year where she took 15th
There are a few other women with notable past performances at TFX in the field as well:
- Samatha Pugh will be competing for the second year in a row, she was 6th last year, one spot behind Domit. In 2021, she placed third in a star-studded field that included Andrea Nisler, Danielle Brandon, Paige Semenza and Christine Kolenbrander.
- Morgan Hickson is competing in the Pro division for the first time but is no stranger to TFX. She was first in the girls 14-15 division in 2021, 2nd in the Intermediate division in 2022, 6th in the Rx women’s division last year, and has now qualified for the Pro division.
- Alina Ward competed at TFX last year for the first time and took 13th; and is also coming off a podium finish (3rd place) at the Desert City Classic earlier in the offseason.
- Cass Layne is the other TFX alum returning from last year when she placed 18th.
Other Athletes to Watch
- The top athlete coming out of the qualifiers is Rachel Fricker.
- After Hickson (17), the next youngest athlete in the field is Evelyn Kimball (20).
- 2022 Granite Games Semifinalist Chloe Carano (15th place) is still only 22 years old and comes in as the second highest ranking pro female through the qualifier.
- Arielle Sanders had some standout performances at Crash Crucible where she notched a top ten finish in a field full of semifinalists.
There aren’t any previous elite individual CrossFit Game athletes in the men’s field, but there are certainly some athletes who have the potential to be there one day.
- One of the most highly anticipated young athletes in CrossFit who has yet to really shine through on the big stages is William Leahy IV. We saw him at Crash Crucible in October where, en route to notching a 6th place overall finish, he had top 5 finishes on 4 of the 7 events.
- Top online qualifier, Travon Benton, is coming off a 22nd place finish at TYR Wodapalooza two weeks ago, but he was also 24th at the North America West Semifinals last May, and placed 3rd at TFX last year. Expect him to be in the hunt for another podium here in 2024.
- Andris Sturans already has three offseason podiums to his credit this year; he was second place at Iron Games back in August, third place at the Desert City Classic in November, and backed that up with a second place at the Charlotte Classic the very next weekend.
The Young Bucks
There are four athletes in this field 20 year old or younger, and on the men’s side of things, that is a lot more rare than in the women’s divisions:
- Caleb McClure checks in as the youngest in this field at 18 years old. He’s been to the CrossFit Games twice in the teenage divisions, and stood second on the podium there in 2022 in his final year of eligibility.
- Elijah Subiono also has two appearances at the CrossFit Games (in the same two years as McClure). In 2021 he beat McClure by one spot (6th to his 7th), and in 2022 the tables were turned when McClure beat Subiono by a spot (2nd to his 3rd). These two know each other quite well, but now it’s time to see how they stack up against the pro men’s field.
- EJ Hein is 20 years old and doesn’t have too much yet in terms of CrossFit accolades, however, he is a name you might want to jot down as one to know. He was the 2023 IWF Junior World Champion where he snatched 348 lbs and hit a 425 lb clean and jerk in the 89 kg weight class. He also narrowly missed Semifinals last year placing 64th (down to 62nd got a backfill invite) in the North American West quarterfinals.
- Alexander Blazo, like McClure and Subiono, competed twice at the CrossFit Games as a teeanger taking 8th place in both 2019 (14-15 year old boys) and 2021 (16-17 year olds) and has competed on Pro teams at TFX the last two years but is making the switch to individual this year.
Other Notable Athletes
There are at least three other notable names in the field based on competition history:
- Brian Huynh has qualified for semifinals in North America for three consecutive years taking 18th at the West Coast Classic in 2021, then 16th at the Syndicate Crown in 2022, and finally placing 31st at the North America West semifinal last year.
- Isaiah Vidal had the highest finishing rank at a North America Semifinal in 2023 of any male athlete in this field (he was 18th at NA West), but then (somewhat surprisingly) missed the podium in the Lat Am Cup at Wodapalooza two weeks ago.
- Matt Brady finished three spots higher than Hein in the Quarters last year (and thus got a backfill invite to Semis), he went on to place 29th in the West Semifinal.
Two time defending champions #teamdensity are back in pursuit of the threepeat. This year’s team is comprised of Marco Coppola, Casey Strong, and Randi Stevens (who were all on the team last year), the new addition is Calin Sims.
I’m not overly familiar with all the teams in this division, but a few names I recognize who could have some strong teams to potentially challenge the champs are:
- Jay Adams on team Fran Dogs. Adams has multiple Regional qualifications as an individual (2017 and 2018) as well as multiple Semifinals appearances on teams (2022 and 2023). In 2023 his team made the Games and placed 13th.
- The Salty Squad featuring Justin Zizumbo and Jordan Berroteran, along with Trish Zizumbo and Courtney Funk boast a lot of competitive experience. Justin and Jordan were on the winning team for the men’s teams of three at Iron Games, and have both been on teams at Semis. Jordan competed at the Games on a team back in 2017 as well.
- CrossFit SDA: Excellence, consisting of Logan Jenkins, Mitchell Minton, Victoria Tinklepaugh, and Anastasia Lowe come in as the top team through the qualifiers. Both Jenkins and Lowe have semifinal experience as well.
- Eric Evans is slated to compete on team So Cal Hotties alongside Amador Arteaga, Alexandra Causey, and Megan Toronto. Evans was 49th at the NA West Semifinals in the elite men’s division and is the only athlete male or female in this team division to have competed individually at a semifinal last season.
Follow the Action
This is the 19th stop on the offseason world tour, and as with many of the others you’ll be able to follow along on the B.Friendly Instagram, where I’ll be live-streaming pro heats, as well as on the TFX Instagram where we’ll be posting recaps and highlights throughout the weekend.