The 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games are rapidly approaching and the athletes are starting to make their way up to Madison for final preparations. This year there are 14 (was 15 before Elrod’s suspension) rookies competing on the men’s side and 7 on the women’s side.
In 2016, Patrick Vellner had the best rookie finish as he made his way onto the podium. Kristi Eramo was the top female rookie.
Who do we think will make splash as a rookie this year? Here are two women and men to keep an eye on in 2017.
Female Rookies to Watch
The former gymnast and rugby player has that competitive edge. Last year many wanted Jamie Greene to go individual after winning the 2016 CrossFit Open. She decided to go team instead and helped CrossFit Yas take third at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games. This year, however, she is going all-in as an individual competitor.
Of the 330 women who competed in the 2017 Regional competition, she finished inside the top 30 in each event. She’s currently ranked the top rookie coming out of regionals heading into the Games. She won the 2016 worldwide Open, taking three third-place finishes and never finished outside the top 12. Her experience from a year ago with CrossFit Yas will help her understand the competitive atmosphere of the Games, but the individual competition has proven for previous rookies coming from the team side that it’s a new animal.
Bethany Branham has quite the journey to her first CrossFit Games. The 23-year-old has eight years of gymnastics experience, she’s ran four triathlons, multiple marathons and competed in bodybuilding for three years.
As for Branham’s CrossFit career, she burst onto the scene when she won the 2017 Wodapalooza Rx Division and took 4th at the Fittest Games in Austin, Texas. She also finished atop the leaderboard in the South Central region of the worldwide Open and has shown her previous competitive experience can translate to the CrossFit competition floor.
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Male Rookies to Watch
Paulson has been around CrossFit for a while now, but just now caught his break in a loaded East Regional, finishing on the podium alongside the 2016 Fittest Man on Earth, Mat Fraser, and the third-place finisher in 2016 from Canada, Patrick Vellner. With those two in heats with Paulson, he knew how to stack up in workouts at the regionals, and will likely push to be in the last heat of each event at the Games.
He currently has a 300 lb. snatch according to his athlete profile on the games site, so he’ll have a good shot at the one-rep max snatch event and is right up there with the top finishers the past two years in squat and deadlift. He’s as strong as an ox, and clearly has enough skill on the rig to keep up with the likes of Fraser and Vellner.
Paulson has set himself up to be one of the breakout athletes of 2017.
Well, today was my last ‘big’ training session before Madison. For the next week I’ll continue to get after it, but volume will steadily decrease leading into the weekend. The hardest of training is behind me. Less than 10 days. I am SO excited! This morning I hit my favorite aerobic piece – #RiseOfTheMachines. I vary the intensity and time domain depending on what I’m looking for; active recovery, aerobic work, or just a warm up! EMOM – 50s on/10s off – Alternate ski, bike, and rower. Today I wanted some solid aerobic work, so went 18 minutes & held 1:47/75 rpm/1:42. 📷 @valkyrie.photography #RoadToTheGames #DicksOutForDC #ForgedByZeus #TeamPPM #ProEnergyFit #TeamScivation #TeamRedLine #Crossfit #Gymnastics #Weightlifting #Fitness @redlinegr @scivation @proenergynutrition @paleopowermeals @reebok @crossfit @crossfitgames @zeus_boulder @eyesofclyde @cmpaulson101 @junkbrands
Four years ago, Hoerner placed 8,364 in the worldwide Open and after finishing second overall at the Central Regional, he is now bound for Madison.
Hoerner knows the definition of hard work as he juggled being a full-time student at Iowa University while training to make the Games. He graduated in May with an Industrial Engineering degree and has since devoted all his time to Games training.
The events at the Regional competition favored Hoerner, which is why he didn’t finish outside the top six in each event but has admitted his olympic lifting is his biggest weakness. All in all, he was one of the most consistent athletes at Regionals and hopes to stay consistent in the events at the Games.
It’s hard to find the words to describe how I am feeling. This past weekend was absolutely incredible. It was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. 4 years ago I placed 8364th in the open. This year I am going to the Crossfit Games. Hard work does pay off. I could not have done this without the incredible support system around me. There are entirely too many people to thank but I’m going to do my best. Thank you to all of my family and friends that sent encouraging messages throughout weekend. Thank you to @crossfitrestoration @crossfitdubuque and @crossfitkilo2 and the entire communities within them. From my first day of crossfit until now, the gyms that have been apart of it. Thank you to Phil Gothard @just_aus @lukeschafer9 @kindalikabigdyl @chase_bushaw for being some of the most important parts in my evolution as a crossfit athlete. Thank you to @boxstarapparel for the support and believing in me. Thank you to Dan Johnson and @alix_beau for making sure my body was in tip top shape. Finally and most importantly, thank you to my parents. Thank you Sandy Hoerner for dragging me in to that crossfit gym 4 years ago and supporting me endlessly ever since. #GamesBound @crossfitgames