This might be one of the toughest regionals to predict. Both the men’s and women’s competitions are loaded. There are probably 10 men and 10 women have have a legitimate shot at qualifying. And with six events, one mistake likely means your season is over.
So with all of the pressure and a ticket to the Games on the line, here’s who we are predicting to make it out of Nashville with a ticket to Madison. Oh, and it was really, really hard to narrow down the field to the top 5. There are going to be plenty of athletes who should be going to the Games miss out.
1. Scott Panchik
Scott Panchik and Jacob Heppner have battled back and forth at the Central Regional ever since the Super Regional format was introduced. With Heppner out, Panchik is the favorite to come out of the Central on top. An all-around top athlete, Panchik is one of the most consistent athletes in the world, let alone in the Central Regional.
2. Sam Dancer
Sam Dancer is just an awesome guy…who is really really fit. Many think that the events this year don’t play to Dancer’s strengths, but if you look back at last year’s Regional Dancer was consistent all weekend long. Watch out for him on events 2 and 6 where explosive strength is essential. If he can stay near the top on Event 1 the rest of the weekend looks good for Dancer.
3. Zak Carchedi
If someone trains alongside Jacob Heppner, you know they are are going to have an engine. Carchedi burst onto the scene last year and has followed it up with another successful Open. He’s another athlete who is consistent and will be fill the leaderboard with top 10s all weekend long. In a regional that has a ton of elite athletes, consistency is key.
4. Alex Anderson
Alex Anderson is another guy who probably would have liked to have seen a barbell at Regionals, but don’t think that he is at a disadvantage because they are no where to be seen this year. Yes, Anderson won Event 1, Snatch Ladder, last year, but he followed that up with four more top 6 finishes. Look for Anderson to be in the hunt all weekend long with the ability to secure a spot to the Games on Sunday.
5. Dan Bailey
Moving to the Central East did no favors for Dan Bailey. The loaded field could make things difficult for Bailey as he missed out last year by not having enough top 4 finishes. Bailey placed inside the top 10 in all 7 events last year in the California Regional, but finished in 7th. He will need to figure out a way to get that “home run” on an event or two this weekend to get those added points.
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir
The late change to the Central East region did not make those looking to qualify out of the Central Regional happy. The two-time 3rd place finisher at the CrossFit Games could steal the show in Nashville this weekend. While Sigmundsdottir doesn’t have a coach this year, training with Rich Froning and the rest of the crew at CrossFit Mayhem should pay off with a Regional win.
2. Kristi Eramo
Kristi Eramo snuck past Nicole Holcomb on Event 7 last year to qualify for the CrossFit Games. Eramo followed that up with an 8th place finish at the Games as a rookie. Without a heavy 1RM with a barbell, the events line up with Eramo’s strengths so she should be good to go.
3. Stacie Tovar
At last year’s regional, Stacie Tovar finished 9th or better in every event. That’s what it will take again this year. Tovar’s consistency and experience will pay off again this year. Look for her to make it back to the CrossFit Games for a 5th time.
4. Sheila Barden
Sheila Barden fought back in 2016 to win the Central Regional after narrowly missing in 2015. The snatch ladder was one of Barden’s worst event last year, but with no barbell things look good for her. With the ability to hit the “home run” with an event victory, Barden can make up ground quickly. While she may not win this year, she has a great chance at returning to the Games.
5. Brooke Wells
If this year’s events were programmed in 2016, Brooke Wells might not have qualified. But with the change to working with Ben Bergeron, it is guaranteed that Wells has worked on her weaknesses. While she would probably have liked to have seen a barbell, she has enough talent and skill to qualify with this set of event. However, it likely won’t be easy. Wells could have to make up some ground on Sunday.