The Central Regional will have a bit different look and feel this year. Some of the big names are back just like last year – Scott Panchik, Nick Urankar, Alex Anderson, but there are plenty of new faces along with some who are no longer in this regional.

The biggest addition to the Central Regional is, of course, Mat Fraser. Fraser moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, in the offseason and is now looking to dominate a new regional. Fraser has had the East (and North East) Regional on lockdown the past four years. It is unlikely that changes this year.

On the women’s side, Brooke Wells, Kristi Eramo and Jessica Griffith are back from last year. However, Sara Sigmundsdottir competed in the Europe Regional last weekend and Stacie Tovar retired following the Games last season.

Here are the top 5 from last year:

Men
1. Paul Castillo
2. Streat Hoerner
3. Scott Panchik
4. Alex Anderson
5. Zak Carchedi

Women
1. Sara Sigmundsdottir
2. Kristi Eramo
3. Stacie Tovar
4. Brooke Wells
5. Jessica Griffith

The top 4 qualifiers from last year are back. Zak Carchedi is recovering from an injury and is not competing this year, but he is more than replaced by Fraser’s addition. Nick Urankar, also a Games veteran, is back this year after withdrawing with a pec injury at last year’s regional.

Also returning this year are last year’s 6th through 9th place finishers. This means that outside of Fraser the Central could have a lot at stake on the final event. Here are our predictions of who will be advancing to the Games.

Fraser is almost a lock to win the regional. After that, Panchik has been a mainstay at the Central Regional for years. After that, Streat Hoerner has made a name for himself the past two seasons. Hoerner won at Wodapalooza this past January and looks to build off of a solid 2017 season. Alex Anderson is also back and quietly makes it to the Games year after year.

The final spot, however, is likely up for grabs. Last year Luke Shafer was holding a top 5 spot until the final event ruined his chances. With another year of training and no heavy sandbag, Shafer has the ability to make a run at it this year.

The Barbell Spin’s Predictions (Men)
1. Mat Fraser
2. Scott Panchik
3. Streat Hoerner
4. Alex Anderson
5. Luke Shafer

On the women’s side, the top spot is now open with Sigmundsdottir out of the regional. The favorites to stand atop the podium are Kristi Eramo and Brooke Wells. Eramo should win Event 1, but will she hold on during the heavy Linda event. Wells struggled a bit last year, but recovered enough to squeak into the top 5. Wells will need a better Day 1 than last year to fight for 1st overall.

In 2017, Jessica Griffith made her individual debut on the regional floor and then stole the show with a 1st and 2nd place on Day 1. Griffith would come back to the field and held on to 5th place. With the added experience, Griffith should be good to go again this year.

The final two spots could come down to previous CrossFit Games veterans versus hungry up and coming athletes. Jennifer Smith, Kelley Jackson and Nicole Holcomb have all competed at the CrossFit Games in the past and are fighting to get back this year. They will be looking to hold off athletes like Chantelle Loehner (1st in the Central East Open) and Anna Rode (9th last year).

The Barbell Spin’s Predictions (Women)
1. Kristi Eramo
2. Jessica Griffith
3. Brooke Wells
4. Kelley Jackson
5. Nicole Holcomb