The 2016 American Open begins on Thursday and is the biggest national weightlifting event each year in the United States. Not only will the best weightlifters like Mattie Rogers and Caine Wilkes step onto the platform, but some CrossFit athletes be lifting alongside them.
Over the past several years the sport of weightlifting has grown in popularity. Many attribute the growth to the explosion of CrossFit and emphasis on the Olympic lifts. This year a number of well-known CrossFit athletes, and some CrossFit Games veterans, are competing and possibly going to medal on the national stage.
Here’s a preview of some CrossFitters to keep an eye out for this weekend:
A member of the NPGL’s DC Brawlers and a CrossFit Games Regional athletes, Ritchey just moved down to the 48kg weight category. Ritchey has the highest entry total among a very strong field of athletes including U.S. Olympic Trials athlete Kathleen Winters and up and coming junior lifters in Hayley Reichardt and Megan Seeley.
Kaela Stephano won the Teenage Girls 14-15 division at the 2016 CrossFit Games. During the Games, she scored a 196-pound (89kg) squat clean following a sprint metcon. Stephano’s entry total is 162kg, good for 6th among all 53kg lifters.
Sarabeth Phillips finished on the podium last year and is again a contender this year in the 58kg weight category. Phillips has competed in the CrossFit Games Regionals and is a member of the NPGL’s New York Rhinos. Look for Phillips to be standing on the podium once again in Orlando.
Kristen Clever is an OG in the CrossFit world. Clever won the CrossFit Games in 2010. Since then, she has competed as an individual at the Games as well as on a team. Clever will lift in the D session of the Women’s 58kg category.
Maddy Myers won the 63kg weight category at he 2015 American Open. Myers has also competed on the international stage for Team USA. Myers competed as an individual at the 2015 CrossFit Games and followed that up as a team member on CrossFit Invictus at the 2016 CrossFit Games. Myers is favored this year heading into the American Open.
Kelly Wild has competed at the CrossFit Games as a member of Timberwolf CrossFit. Wild finished 10th in the North Central region in last year’s CrossFit Open. Wild was also the #1 draft pick by the LA Reign in the 2016 NPGL draft. Wild will be competing as a 63kg lifter in the A Session alongside Myers.
Jaime Gold is a two-time CrossFit Games veteran. Gold competed in 2011 and 2012. Gold is now a member of the NPGL’s Boston Iron. Gold is competing in the 63kg B Session.
You might remember Tia Wright from the 2016 CrossFit Games West Regional. Wright fell out of a qualifying spot to go to the CrossFit Games after a disastrous Event 7 where she placed 32nd. Wright will be competing in the C Session of the 63kg weight category.
Alison Scudds trains out of Peak 360 in Miami, Florida, with Noah Ohlsen. When she’s not doing that, she was on the NPGL’s Baltimore Anthem team. Scudds competed in the Atlantic Regional last year placing 17th. Scudds will take the platform in the E Session of the 63kg category.
Nicole Capurso has been competing in the sport of weightlifting for the past several years. Capurso began competing on the Outlaw Barbell Team and has competed as an individual at the CrossFit Regionals. In 2016, Capurso competed on #TeamDensity / CrossFit OverTake at the CrossFit Games. Look for Capurso in the 69kg C Session.
Sarah Loogman finished 15th in the 2016 CrossFit California Regional. Loogman has been training under Max Aita for Team Juggernaut. She will be in the E Session of the 69’s.
Once a powerlifter, Taylar Stallings has transitioned to CrossFit. While Stallings has yet to break out as a CrossFit superstar, Stallings has made a name for herself in the NPGL. Stallings competes on the NPGL’s DC Brawlers and is one of the strongest athletes in the league. Stallings has recently been working on the Olympic lifts and her strength has put her in the A Session of the 75kg category.
13Sarah Hopping Estrella
Sarah Hopping Estrella has yet to make it to the CrossFit Games, but she is a staple in the California Regional. Hopping finished 9th in 2015. Estrella is also a member of the NPGL’s San Francisco Fire. She has the highest entry total of the newest women’s weight category, 90kg.
It may be a bit premature to give Sean Hutchinson the label, CrossFitter, but the winner of the 2015 American Open finished 300th in the South East region during last year’s CrossFit Open. Hutchinson has said that he has been focusing on CrossFit lately so while he is one of the top 62kg lifters in the country, we might be seeing him on the CrossFit stage very soon.
Eric Cardona has yet to make it on the CrossFit Regional stage, but he has made a name for himself in the NPGL. Cardona is on the San Francisco Fire and is known for his handstand push-up and bodyweight prowess. He also is able to move some weight as he is competing in the 69kg C Session.
Jacob Heighes trains CrossFit using Misfit Athletics programming. Heighes finished 11th in the 2015 CrossFit California Regional. Heighes is still training for CrossFit, but he is also taking a moment to lift at the American Open. He will have a pretty decent coach at the event too, Anthony Pomponio. Heighes will be competing in the B Session of the 77kg weight category.
17 Kris Kling
Kris Kling is a CrossFit North East Regional athlete and is a member of the NPGL’s Boston Iron. Kling competed on CrossFit Milford’s team that took 16th at the CrossFit Games in 2016. Kling has been just on the outside of making it to Regionals each of the last three years, but has shown he has what it takes to compete at the Games on a team.
James Townsend is a former track star and NFL wide receiver. Townsend has some of the most impressive stats of any CrossFitter, but has yet to make it to Regionals due to injuries. Over the past several years, Townsend has refined his technique under the watchful eye of Dogtown CrossFit’s Dusty Hyland and CrossFit Games veteran Lindsey Valenzuela.
Townsend and Valenzuela recently opened their own CrossFit gym, Autumo CrossFit, and is now coached by Max Aita on Team Juggernaut. Townsend has the raw strength, but now it is time to see if the technique work can pay off to compete with the top lifters in the country.
Elijah Muhammad seems to travel everywhere around the country (and world) to compete in CrossFit, functional fitness and now in weightlifting meets. Muhammad has one of the busiest travel schedules in the sport of CrossFit and some of the biggest Olympic lifts. Muhammad has a 300kg entry total in the 94kg weight category and will compete in the B Session.