Pick a regional and you’re almost guaranteed that at least the men’s or women’s or both competition would end in dramatic fashion with a shake up on the leaderboard. And even if the leaderboard didn’t move, there was still a “win and get in” moment.
Here are our Top 6 finishes on Event 6 from this year’s Regionals:
6. Alex Anderson Breaks into Top 5, Central Leaderboard Goes Crazy
Going into the final event in the Central Regional it looked like only Scott Panchik and Zach Carchedi were safe. Along with the Games veterans stood three athletes trying to qualify for their first CrossFit Games, Streat Hoerner, Luke Shafer and Paul Castillo. Another Games veteran, Alex Anderson, was on the outside looking in.
When the timer sounded, all eyes were on Paul Castillo and Alex Anderson, in 5th and 6th respectively. As the athletes made their way down the floor, it was a tight race between Castillo, Hoerner and Anderson. The three would end up finishing in that order with fans thinking it would not be enough for Alex Anderson.
However, looking back at the floor, Schafer was just getting to the sandbag cleans well behind the rest of the pack. Shafer would end up taking 28th place thereby out of contention.
As the final standings were calculated, there was still some uncertainty. It became even more unclear when Paul Castillo was announced in 1st place followed by Hoerner. Next came Panchik and then Anderson. At that moment, there was some concern that Carchedi might have actually dropped out of the top 5, but that would not be the case as he would finally be announced in the final qualifying spot.
5. Alexis Johnson vs Brista Mayfield
At the South Regional, the final qualifying spot came down to a head-to-head battle between Alexis Johnson and Brista Mayfield. Johnson, in 5th, was looking to return to the CrossFit Games while Mayfield, 6th, was trying to earn her first trip to the Games.
In a close to winner take all situation, Johnson and Mayfield finished the Assault Bike at the same time and began chipping away at the 20 burpee box jump overs. Johnson would end up taking a one sandbag clean lead after the burpee box jumps. Mayfield would be unable to catch Johnson and would fall 11 seconds short.
4. Michael Palomba vs Austin Spencer
Going into the final event, Michael Palomba held on to a slim 7 point lead over Austin Spencer. Spencer had closed the gap earlier in the day on Event 5 so it would come down the sprint chipper.
Both would come out strong, but neither would be able to hold the pace of Tim Paulson, Mat Fraser and Patrick Vellner. A top 4 finish was imperative as the point spread between places was the greatest. So while Spencer would edge out Palomba on that event, he would not have enough separation to close the gap, finishing just 5 points out.
3. Jessica Coughlan from 8th to 5th
Jessica Coughlan had quite the roller coaster of a regional weekend. After a strong start on Friday, Coughlan struggled on Saturday where she dropped out of the top 5. Coughlan would battle back on Saturday with a 5th place finish on Event 5 moving her back within striking distance, although she was in 8th place.
Between Coughlan and the final qualifying spot was Helen Harding, Courtney Haley and Stephanie Ortiz. Coughlan would need to beat all three and beat Harding by at least two spots.
Coughlan would get the break she needed when Harding was the last athlete off the Assault Bike leaving her to just beat the other two outright. She would beat both to the sandbag and would never look back taking 2nd place in the heat, three places ahead of Ortiz and four ahead of Haley. Harding would end up taking 16th in the event and switching places with Coughlan in the final standings.
2. George Sanchez Overcomes 37 Point Deficit
After 5 events, George Sanchez was in 7th place, 37 points behind Mitchel Stevenson in 5th and 10 points behind Kevin Simons in 6th. Sanchez would need an event victory and a ton of help.
Sanchez would attack the Assault Bike with reckless abandon finishing in less than 25 seconds, well ahead of the rest of the field. He continue on an event setting pace through the burpee box jump overs while Stevenson would be near the back of the heat.
While Sanchez would just miss the event record, he would take 1st in the event for 100 points. But now he would have to sit and wait. Stevenson would end up in 14th place for the event and losing to Sanchez by 4 points.
1. Esslinger Jumps Into Top 5, Aegidius Hangs On
After heartbreak the past two seasons, Frederick Aegidus sat in 4th place going into Event 6. Behind him was Elliot Simmonds who had been sliding down the leaderboard after Day 1. And just outside the cut line were two CrossFit Games veterans named Lukas, Lukas Esslinger and Lukas Hogberg, looking to pounce.
Esslinger would dominate the heat and taking 2nd in the event behind the man who set the event record, Andrey Ganin. With 95 points locked up, Esslinger would need Simmonds to finish 4th or worse. Unfortunately for Simmonds, he was well behind the pace and would be out of contention.
Ten seconds after Esslinger finished, Hogberg would cross the line in 4th. With Simmonds already out of the picture and replaced by Esslinger, Hogberg needed Aegidius to finish 8th or worse to steal the 5th and final ticket to the CrossFit Games. After 16 excruciating seconds, Aegidius would step on the red mat in 7th place. He would beat 8th place by less than 3 seconds.
Aegidius would hold on to 5th by two points over Hogberg. After a suspenseful announcement Aegidius would celebrate with his girlfriend and fellow Games athlete, Annie Thorisdottir.
And the celebration…