Breaking Down the Central Regional

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The individual competition in the Central regional looks very different from just a few years ago. Scott Panchik has replaced Rich Froning as the man the beat and Brooke Wells is now the defending champion instead of Julie Foucher. Both fields are strong, but who will advance and who will not?

Men

Scott Panchik battled with Rich Froning in 2014, but took the baton in 2015 to win the Central regional, just ahead of Jacob Heppner. With a little heavier focus compared to last year, Panchik likely holds a small advantage over Heppner. It will be close and possibly come down to the last day, but Event 6 will be an advantage for Panchick over Heppner and give him the overall victory.

Heppner is unmatched when it comes to suffering through brutal workouts. Regional Nate and the wall ball/pull-up couplet aligns well with his skill set. His success will ultimately come down to damage control on the snatch ladder and the overhead squats on the Sunday chipper.

Jacob Anderson qualified for the CrossFit Games in the Atlantic regional last weekend. His brother, Alex Anderson, will be joining him on Sunday. Anderson took 3rd place at last year’s regional and will do the same again this year. Similiar to Panchick, Anderson may struggle on the same events, but will have enough engine to qualify again.

Will Moorad found a way to break into a qualifying spot in the Central regional in 2014. Last year, Moorad dealt with some shoulder issues heading into regionals and fell just a little short. This year, a healthier Moorad will be able to attack the snatch ladder and set himself up for a good weekend.

Graham Holmberg won the CrossFit Games in 2010. Since then, he’s continued to compete at an elite level year in and year out. With the exception of 2014 when Moorad outlasted him, Holmberg has quietly made it to the Games every year. With regional programming favoring the athlete with a strong mix of strength and conditioning, Holmberg fits the mold of what works this year.

Final Prediction:
1. Scott Panchik
2. Jacob Heppner
3. Alex Anderson
4. Will Moorad
5. Graham Holmberg

Women

A 19-year-old Brooke Wells shocked everyone last year when she absolutely dominated the Central regional. With another year to refine her skills and get even stronger, Wells is poised to do the same again this year and walk away with a regional win.

Nicole Holcomb is an athlete who doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. After being near the top of the leaderboard but not qualifying in 2012 and 2013, Holcomb broke into a qualifying spot the last two years with solid, consistent performances. However, Holcomb has been overshadowed by Foucher and Wells when it comes to making headlines. Regardless of whether she gets notoriety, Holcomb will be making her third consecutive trip to Carson in July.

Last year was a year of redemption for Stacie Tovar. Missing the Games in 2014, Tovar came back with something to prove. Outside of the heavy deadlifts, the programming appears to fit within Tovar’s strengths. Look for her to be finishing alongside Wells and Holcomb all weekend long.

Sheila Barden would have made the Games last year if it wasn’t for the last squat clean on Event 7. That heavy barbell proved too much and Barden fell out of the top 5. Regional Nate on Friday and Events 3/4 on Saturday look really good on paper for Barden who looks to make it back to the Games this year. Expect her to be in a qualifying position heading into Sunday. If she can get through the overhead squats, she will be well on her way.

Is it really possible for Julie Foucher to qualify for the Games the year following a devastating achilles tear and only doing one-hour GPP workouts? The odds may say she doesn’t have a chance, but Foucher seems to defy logic sometimes. Who else would finish 8th at regionals after tearing her achilles tendon after Event 3 at regionals? I’m calling a shocker here and saying Foucher squeaks into a qualifying spot.

Final Prediction:
1. Brooke Wells
2. Nicole Holcomb
3. Stacie Tovar
4. Sheila Barden
5. Julie Foucher

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