By the Numbers: 5 of the Top 10 Men Came From Sanctional Invites

The 2019 CrossFit Games had 144 men line up for Event 1. The new format would mean that only the top 75 in Event 1 would advance to compete later that day in Event 2. Ultimately, the first six events would result in a cut to the field until there were only 10 athletes left Saturday morning.

In this article, we take a look at the men’s field to see how the qualification methods stacked up against each other.

The Field

Top 20 Qualifiers: 20
Sanctional Invites: 15 (16, if you count Roman Khrennikov*)
National Champions: 107 (115 qualified, but 8 did not travel to Madison)
Wildcard Invites: 2
Total Athletes in Event 1: 144

*Roman Khrennikov was denied his visa again this year. Once he was unable to make it to the Games, Connor Duddy was invited to compete. Duddy finished 8th at the Dubai CrossFit Championship.

The table below shows the distribution of male athletes throughout the course of the six cuts.

Event 1, First Cut

Event 1 would cut the field down to 75. The run, legless rope climbs and moderately heavy squat snatches definitely separated the field. The biggest impact was to the National Champions. 107 National Champions took the field for Event 1, but only 43 advanced to Event 2.

There were also four Top 20 athletes who failed to finish that event in the top 75.

  • Streat Hoerner (88th)
  • Zach Buntin (90th)
  • Paul Castillo (100th)
  • Tim Paulson (107th)

In addition, one Sanctional invitee (Josh Miller) also failed to advance.

National Champions

107 National Champions lined up for Event 1, but only 43 advanced to Event 2. Throughout each event cut, the National Champions were slowly eliminated.

There were, however, six National Champions in the Top 20.

  • Mat Fraser (USA) – 1st
  • Bjorgvin Gudmundsson (Iceland) – 3rd
  • Adrian Mundwiler (Switzerland) – 8th
  • Lukas Hogberg (Sweden) – 17th
  • Joshua Wichtrup (Germany) – 18th
  • Elliot Simmonds (United Kingdom) – 19th

Sanctional Invites

There were 15 Sanctional invitees at the CrossFit Games this year. Throughout the week, the athletes who made it to the Games via Sanctionals outperformed the Top 20 from the Open and the National Champions.

Five of the top 10 men were from a Sanctional competition.

  • Noah Ohlsen (Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival) – 2nd
  • James Newbury (Australian CrossFit Championship) – 5th
  • Matt McLeod (Down Under CrossFit Championship) – 7th
  • Saxon Panchik (Brazil CrossFit Championship) – 9th
  • Will Moorad (Reykjavik CrossFit Championship) – 10th


There were only two wildcard invites handed out this year – Hunter McIntyre and Ben Smith. McIntyre made it past one cut and finished 62nd. Smith ended up 28th and fell short on Friday afternoon. Smith finished last (40th) on the Sprint Couplet and 26th on Mary, both of which put a lot of stress on his surgically repaired knee.

Cut to 10

With a cut after each of the first five events, the field was paired down to the top 20 heading into Saturday. The first event on Saturday morning was the Sprint Course, and once again there would be a cut following the event. This time down to the top 10.

While some big names had been cut before this event, the cut to the top 10 received the most criticism. Some of the criticism came because the 1RM clean came after this. It also was because some really big names were left outside the top 10 like Cole Sager, Travis Mayer and Patrick Vellner. Six of the athletes who finished 11-20 were Games veterans.

Overall, the top 10 men were represented from each of the three main methods of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. The top 4 men have been in the mix in the past. Fraser completed his 4th consecutive victory, Noah Ohlsen was able to make the podium after nearly doing so in 2017. Gudmundsson made it back onto the podium and Scott Panchik did what he always does, get really close.

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