We are down to the final weekend of regional competitions. The final 15 men, women and teams will be punching their ticket to the CrossFit Games on Sunday afternoon. The Meridian Regional is in Spain and will kick off at 3am Eastern / 12am Pacific.
Outside of the pec headlines, the Meridian Regional has a couple big storylines to watch. First, will we see the first individual athlete (or athletes) from the Africa region qualify for the CrossFit Games in the new Super Regional format? Last year, CrossFit Yas made it as a team and ended up on the podium. There were high hopes for several Latin American athletes that ended up falling short. Can Jamie Greene, Jonne Koski, Rasmus Anderson, Phil Hesketh or Adrian Mundwiler break the streak?
Second, can Sam Briggs return to the CrossFit Games in the Open division and join fellow Masters athletes Val Voboril and Kirsten Pedri?
The Meridian Regional has always been very competitive on the women’s side, but the men’s side this year looks just as strong. Here are our predictions for the top 5…
1. Jonne Koski
Last year Jonne Koski was dealing with a back injury that held him back a bit. Koski was able to qualify for the CrossFit Games, but would end up withdrawing after the swim on Thursday. Koski says he is healthy and ready to go, which is not good news for the rest of the field looking to qualify. The events appear to be in Koski’s wheelhouse and would expect him to take home an event victory or two on his way to the top spot on the podium.
2. Bjorgvin Gudmundsson
Bjorgvin Gudmundsson showed the world he was not a fluke in 2015 with a solid follow up performance in 2016. With another year of training, Gudmundsson will be near the top of the leaderboard all weekend long. Let’s just hope this picture is just some rehab and not an indication of a minor pec injury heading into Friday.
3. Lukas Hogberg
2016 was a pretty good year for Lukas Hogberg. He finished 14th at the CrossFit Games and was a member of the Team Europe that won the CrossFit Invitational this last fall. At the Games last year, Hogberg’s best finishes were on the Ranch Mini Chipper – a sprint chipper with 30-pound wall balls, The Plow and the Rope Chipper. All of these were in the shorter time domain and required explosive strength…very similar to this year’s regional events. Because of this, we expect to see a good showing out of Hogberg.
4. Phil Hesketh
After missing last year with a broken hand, Phil Hesketh is back in the mix. A 2015 CrossFit Games veteran, Hesketh is looking to show he is back and ready to compete at the highest level. Hesketh is one of the heavier athletes, which could make it a little difficult where there is not a ton of big weight being lifted, but he should be able to take advantage of Events 4 and 6, especially if it comes down to the wire.
5. Adrian Mundwiler
Adrian Mundwiler qualified for his first appearance at the CrossFit Games in 2016 after starting CrossFit in 2015. A former hockey player, Mundwiler is still growing as an athlete and an extra year of training will give him the added experience to compete at the highest level this year. Mundwiler took 2nd in Regional Nate last year and won the long chipper. His worst event might be Event 1 so don’t be surprised to see him down the leaderboard early.
1. Sam Briggs
Sam Briggs’ worst event at last year’s regionals…the snatch ladder. Briggs took 25th on the first event and then battled back with two event wins and four top 3 finishes. Without a barbell in sight and a bunch of grinding workouts, Briggs should do very well across the board. The only concern is that she is less than a year off shoulder surgery and with a very shoulder dominant weekend, staying healthy might be the biggest concern.
2. Annie Thorisdottir
Annie Thorisdottir has the most experience in the field. With different movements and no barbell, Thorisdottir can use that experience in her favor. Last year, Thorisdottir finished no worse that 6th place in any event and we could see her doing the same thing again this year.
3. Jamie Greene
We finally get to see Jamie Greene compete against some of the best athletes. After last year’s dominating Open performance it was a bit of a letdown to see her go team with CrossFit Yas. Now that she is competing as an individual, we can see if she can live up to the hype. Greene is a bit of a smaller athlete, which we have seen is not always advantageous with this year’s events. The heavy kettlebells and sandbag have stopped several in their tracks. While we think Greene has enough to get past these hurdles, she may struggle on a couple events to push her down to 3rd overall.
4. Kristin Holte
Kristin Holte seems to be forgotten when the strength of the Meridian athletes are discussed. But like Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault showed at the East Regional, don’t count out those with experience. Holte’s worst performance at last year’s regionals was Event 1, the snatch ladder, where she took 8th. After that, she finished no worse that 6th and won the long chipper. Holte should be just fine in this competitive field.
5. Thuri Helgadottir
Thuri Helgadottir is the forgotten ‘Dottir’, but that doesn’t mean that she should be. Helgadottir has been to the CrossFit Games three times, two of which the past two years with the new Super Regional format. Helgadottir won Regional Nate last year in a stacked regional and was consistent throughout the weekend. While she may not battle for 1st place, Helgadottir should be in the hunt.