Breaking Down the California Regional

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Last year’s California regional saw some familiar faces miss out on the Games. Josh Bridges and Kenneth Leverich on the men’s side and Lauren Fisher and Val Voboril on the women’s side. In their place were new faces including Brooke Ence, Chad Melton and Julian Alcaraz.

In 2016, the California regional looks even tougher. So who will advance and who will be preparing for 2017?

Men

Dan Bailey finished 4th at the 2015 CrossFit Games and has hinted this may be his last year competing as an individual. With the possibility of this being his last year, look for Bailey to show off his ability to excel at the shorter workouts. Events such as 3, 4, 5 and 7 are right up Bailey’s wheelhouse and should be enough to secure a ticket to Carson. However, keep an eye on his health as a nagging achilles injury has hampered his training and could become an issue if it is re-aggravated this weekend.

Josh Bridges is a man on a mission. During the Open, it was easy to see that Bridges is back for revenge. Even after some controversy on the deadlifts during the Open, Bridges easily dominated the Open workouts, but will this year’s programming hurt his cause? Bridges could have some ground to make up after the snatch ladder and the 405-pound deadlifts stopped him in his tracks in 2013. He appears to have gotten a lot stronger, but these two workouts may be damage control. But with potential wins on Regional Nate and Event 3, it may not be an issue.

After not competing last year, Games veteran, Marcus Filly, is back. With top end strength and gymnastic skills, Filly will be near the top of every event. While he may not win a single event throughout the weekend, expect him to be top 10 each event putting him safely in a qualifying position.

Ben Alderman has been scratching at the doorstep the past couple years. This year’s programming suits his strengths and there is not a super long chipper that hurt him in prior years. The snatch ladder and the chipper should be workouts that he does well on and potentially wins. If he can move fast enough on Event 3 and 7 and his shoulder holds up throughout the weekend, Alderman can finally break through to the Games.

Christian Lucero won the South West Open in 2015, but finished a disappointing 23rd in the South Regional. Lucero has moved to California and looks stronger than last year. While the Open appears to suit his style, Lucero beat the likes of Dan Bailey and Kenneth Leverich, both of which have historically done very well with Open-style workouts. There will probably be a logjam fighting for the last spot come Event 7 so get ready for some exciting action on the thruster and legless rope climb couplet.

Final Predictions:
1. Dan Bailey
2. Josh Bridges
3. Marcus Filly
4. Ben Alderman
5. Christian Lucero

Women

Brooke Ence took the CrossFit world by storm last year on her way to winning the California regional and placing 14th at the Games. While she didn’t have a great Open, the heavier programming suits Ence much better than the Open workouts. She stands a very good chance to win the snatch ladder. Her best events have typically been the short burners so keep an eye out for Event 7 as well.

Chyna Cho has proven that she belongs at the Games the past two years and will do so again this year. She did well on the Snatch Speed Ladder at last year’s Games and had no problem with the strict handstand push-ups at the 2014 regionals. Cho may not win an event but will likely take top 3 in multiple events setting herself up for a comfortable Sunday.

Chelsey Grigsby narrowly missed qualifying for the Games last year after a terrible Event 7. Prior to struggling on the squat cleans, Grigsby was very competitive in the stacked California regional. I expect Grigsby to come back stronger than last year and earn a spot to Carson.

Lauren Fisher went to the Games last year, but on Team Invictus. Fisher injured her ankle practicing rope climbs leading up to Regionals and was never healthy enough to compete at a high enough level to qualify. Don’t be surprised if Fisher starts strong on the snatch ladder and stays in the top 5 all weekend.

Alessandra Pichelli will be one of the strongest women competing this weekend, giving her an advantage on the snatch ladder, deadlift workout and the chipper with heavy overhead squats. And the past two years at regionals, Pichelli has proven that she can do strict handstand push-ups and legless rope climbs. Look for Pichelli to squeeze past Rebecca Voigt and Kirsten Pedri on Sunday to take the fifth and final qualifying spot to the CrossFit Games.

Final Predictions:
1. Brooke Ence
2. Chyna Cho
3. Chelsey Grigsby
4. Lauren Fisher
5. Alessandra Pichelli

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