5 Things We Learned From the First Weekend of Regionals

The Wasatch Brutes continue to lead on Day 2. The team took first in both of the events on the second of three days of competition.
The Wasatch Brutes continue to lead on Day 2. The team took first in both of the events on the second of three days of competition. ©2017 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission from CrossFit Inc.

The first week of Regionals is in the books. While we didn’t see a heavy barbell, or a barbell at all for that matter, the events were exciting for the most part and led to some great competition.

After watching way too many hours (if that’s even possible) this weekend, here is what we learned from the East and South Regionals.

1. Overall Fitness Prevails

Once the Regional workouts were all announced and a barbell was not in sight, many were unhappy with Dave Castro’s programming. On top of that, many wondered if the different programming would lead to a bunch of bodyweight specialists qualifying to the CrossFit Games over the veterans who can move heavy barbells.

In general, those who we expected to qualify for the Games did. Mat Fraser and Patrick Vellner both dominated the East. The four Games veterans in the women’s East Regional held court and qualified easily. In the South, Logan Collins won the South Regional again followed by Travis Williams and on the women’s side Tennil Reed, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Margaux Alvarez finished top 3 with Alexis Johnson also qualifying.

Outside of injuries and some controversial judging of Sean Sweeney on Event 2, there really were not any surprises coming out of the first two Regional competitions.

2. Torn Pecs

The East Regional was decimated by Event 2. In total, six known athletes were eliminated from competition after tearing their pectoral muscle on the ring dips. If just looking at the East Regional it would be significant cause for concern as 15% of the men’s field had to withdraw throughout the weekend because of it.

But surprisingly, no one (that we know of) in the South or on the women’s side (East and South) encountered the same injury. While we can only speculate on the cause of the injuries, it will be interesting to watch remaining six Regionals to see if it is an epidemic or if it was an anomaly.

3. Dave Castro Underestimated the Athletes

Throughout the weekend Dave Castro stopped by the commentator booth to share some thoughts about the weekend as well as providing some insight into his thinking about the Regional programming. We learned that Castro had been planning a “barbell-less” Regional competition for some time and was happy with how the events were panning out.

However, Castro made several comments that the performances on the floor were better than he anticipated. Event 1, specifically, was faster than Castro was hoping to see. He wanted a Murph-style event that required pacing. The top athletes blitzed the workout and made it much more of a sprint.

The longest events this year were Event 1 and 3 and both were under 15 minutes for the top finishers. Mat Fraser spent just over 45 minutes competing this year. In 2016, Fraser was on the floor for almost 68 minutes.

4. Team Competition Lacked Suspense

The team competitions have always been difficult to follow on the live stream as there are up to 60 athletes on the floor at one time. Combine that with transitions and multiple movements and it’s hard to know who is in 1st, 2nd, etc until the very end.

With that said, this year’s events seem to be lacking suspense. The top teams set themselves apart from the rest of the field and had no problem finishing the events within the time caps. The top 5 qualifiers from each Regional only had a total of three time caps throughout the weekend, all on Event 3.

While the tightness of competition generally leads to the suspense, having teams fail at the end of a workout and getting passed at the last second creates those moments that fans remember. So far through the first weekend we have yet to see that.

5. Watch Out for the Young Guns

As the sport of CrossFit has become more and more grueling and the amount of training volume has skyrocketed, everyone expected to see more younger athletes make their mark on the sport. After the first two Regionals, those expectations are coming true – on the men’s side.

Out of the 10 male athletes that have qualified for the 2017 CrossFit Games, six are 25 years old or younger. Three of those are 22 or younger. Out of the East, Cody Mooney is 22 and Michael Palomba is 21. In the South, Tommy Vinas is 20. And for Vinas, this was his 3rd trip to Regionals. Mooney almost qualified for the Games in 2015.

Will we see more college-age athletes break into the spotlight this year? All eyes will be on George Sterner at the Central Regional this weekend.