CrossFit Games

Games Invites Up for Grabs at the Australian CrossFit Championship

March 3, 2020 by
Credit @auscrossfitchamp
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It’s summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, which is fitting since the action is expected to be hot and sweaty at the upcoming Australian CrossFit Championship. Four days of competition await the top athletes in the Pacific region, March 5-8 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Queensland, Australia.

What’s on the line: Elite individuals and teams will be battling for their 2020 CrossFit Games invitation. The podium finishers will also receive a cash prize.

  1. $4,623 USD
  2. $1,981 USD
  3. $660 USD

Who to watch: The field predominantly consists of athletes from Australia and New Zealand, giving the Sanctional a throwback CrossFit Pacific Regional feel. Athletes from the USA, France, Denmark, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Sweden and Israel are also represented in the individual field.

The women’s division: The women’s field consists of 32 athletes, only two of whom have secured their invitations to the Games. Twenty one of the women have competed at a Regional either as an individual or on a team.

  • Kara Saunders headlines the field as she makes her first Sanctional appearance since the format started. Saunders was last seen competing at the 2018 CrossFit Games where she finished fourth. The seven-time Games athlete sat out the last season after giving birth to a baby girl in June. Just five months after giving birth, she competed and placed 12th in the CrossFit Games Worldwide Open, finishing as the second-fittest in Australia and punching her eighth ticket to the Games.
  • Madeline Sturt is the other female athlete who has received a Games invitation. She received the invite last week after Annie Thorisdottir declined her Open invitation due to her pregnancy. The Australian has competed at the Games four-straight years, finishing 22nd last year. Sturt received her Games invite last year through the Australian CrossFit Championship after finishing second.
  • Mia Hesketh makes her first appearance this season as an individual competitor. She has made two appearances at the Games on a team, most recently with her husband Phil Hesketh last year with CrossFit Alioth, where they finished eighth.
  • Courtney Haley has three Games appearances including last year where she placed 29th as an individual. She is seeking her third-straight invite.
  • New Zealander Marnie Sykes competes in her third Sanctional of the season. She came up short in gaining her first ever Games invitation at the CrossFit Pandaland Challenge where she finished third. Last year at the Australian CrossFit Championship she placed fourth just two spots out of qualifying.
  • Fellow kiwi Kate Gordon has two Games appearances most recently on a team with the X-Terminators last season. A member of the CrossFit seminar staff, look for some creativity and wit to go with her fitness from the @crossfitterwithsign.
  • Jaime Goodwin also hails from New Zealand where she finished as the third fittest in her country. She finished just below the cutline for the Open invite for this year’s Games with a 43rd placing worldwide. She has three Games appearances on a team with CrossFit Melbourne.
  • Madison Tatt has two Game appearances on a team, most recently with CrossFit Frankston in 2018 where they placed 10th.
  • Laken Watt and Caitlin Danyi are a pair of Aussies with past Regional appearances who finished in the top-ten in the Open for their country this season. Last year Watt finished eighth at the Australian CrossFit Championship.
  • Americans Hayley Murillo and Hilary Steele are each competing in their third Sanctional of the season. This will be the second Sanctional they have competed against each other, the Mayhem Classic was the first. Murillo is a six-time Regional athlete and Steele has made four appearances at Regionals. Steele competed at the Australian CrossFit Championship last year, finishing seventh.
  • Jessica Coughlan, one of the favorites heading into the competition, announced on Monday that she was withdrawing from the competition due to pneumonia.

The men’s division: There is only one athlete in the field who has his invitation secured for the 2020 Games. With a talented pool of 33 athletes still seeking their Games invite, there should be plenty of intrigue and battles for every point available. Seven athletes competed at the Games last year either as an individual or on a team. Two of those athletes finished in the top-ten in the individual competition, both are still seeking their Games invitations.

  • James Newbury has had an interesting 2019-2020 season. Coming off a fifth place finish at the 2019 Games, he was expected to have his Games invite already secured through the Open but a bike accident in November ended his bid. The four-time Games athlete will instead look to defend his Australian CrossFit Championship title and once again make a return trip to Madison.
  • Matt McLeod is also seeking a Games invite after a top-ten finish at the 2019 Games. He finished seventh last year in Madison but struggled in the Open, finishing 92nd worldwide. He placed fourth at the Australian CrossFit Championship last year before winning the Down Under CrossFit Championship to earn his ticket. This is his second Sanctional appearance this season after competing at Filthy 150 in November.
  • Two-time defending national champion Bayden Brown is the only one in the field with a Games invite secured. He will be making his second-straight Games appearance after finishing seventh in the Open and securing his country’s national champion invite. Last year he placed second at the Australian CrossFit Championship.
  • Brandon Swan and Zeke Grove each competed at the 2019 Games on teams. Swan was a member of Project X and Grove was on the X-Terminators. Each seek to return to the Games as individuals for the fourth time. Grove competed at this Sanctional last year, finishing third.
  • Alec Smith also looks to return to the Games as an individual. Last year he was a member of CrossFit Krypton, the runner-up team at the Games. Smith is competing in his second Sanctional of the season after finishing 20th at Wodapalooza two weeks ago.
  • Like his wife, Phil Hesketh is stepping away from team competition for this Sanctional to seek his first individual Games invite. He has two Games appearances on a team including captaining CrossFit Alioth to a eighth place finish at last year’s Games.
  • Jay Crouch is also a Games veteran in the team division. He has two Games appearances with CrossFit Frankston, finishing 10th at the 2018 Games. This will be his second Sanctional this year as an individual after just missing his Games invite with a runner-up finish at the SouthFit CrossFit Challenge.
  • A trio of Aussie contenders are seeking their first ever Games appearance. Evan Morris finished 60th in the Open and finished as the national champion runner-up. Jonathan Dunlop placed 84th in the Open and sixth in Australia. Luke McMahon is a four-time Regional athlete who placed eighth at the Australian CrossFit Championship last year.

The team division: The team division features just 12 teams but they are highly competitive and talented, with Games experience spread throughout. Since CrossFit Mayhem Independence already earned their Games invite at Wodapalooza, the odds for the remaining 11 teams to earn their invitations has increased.

  • Despite the Games invite, Mayhem Independence will compete for the first time with the members they plan on fielding at the Games. Australian Royce Dunn will look to stand atop the podium in his home country with his American teammates Chase Hill, Kristin Miller and Taylor Streid. For Streid, this will be her first competition as a member of the team.
  • Team Sack will be one of the teams to push Independence, and seek to earn the eighth team invite to the Games of the season. CJ Walker is no stranger to team competition after competing with CrossFit Torian at the 2016 Games. Joining him are four time Regional qualifier April Herring and two-time Regional qualifier Simone Arthur. Arthur finished third in the individual division last year at the Australian CrossFit Championship. Five-time Games veteran Khan Porter was originally listed as the fourth teammate but will not be competing.
  • Starr Strength Black is led by five-time Games athlete and New Zealander Alethea Boon. She has competed at the Games as an individual three times but her first appearance was on a team in 2014. She is joined by fellow kiwi Jodi Gardiner and Aussies Rees Machell and Christee Hollard.
  • Instinct Battlers is led by two-time New Zealand national champion Luke Fiso. In his first Games appearance last year, Fiso placed 52nd at the Games. He is joined by a pair of two-time Regional qualifiers in Paige Bradley and Sian Ryan.
  • CrossFit Adelaide has Leilani Dawes who competed at the 2016 Games with CrossFit Loaded. Stephanie Ortiz (five Regional appearances), Tristan Jones (two Regional appearances) and George Rhigas.
  • CrossFit Urban features a pair of married couples. Adam and Jaylee Mansy and Katelin and Johann Van Zyl make up a unique and highly competitive team. Adam Mansy is a two-time Regional qualifier while Katelin Van Zyl has qualified for the Games as an individual the last two seasons. Last season she placed 57th at the Games after finishing 31st in the Open. This season she placed 20th in the Open. She is also coming off a 13th place finish at Wodapalooza two weeks ago.
  • American Lindsay Vaughan leads Gorilla Health in the team competition. She competed in her first Games last year, finishing 34th. Last year she competed at the Australian CrossFit Championship as an individual, finishing fifth.

How to watch: The Australian CrossFit Championship will not be carrying a live broadcast or stream. However the Morning Chalk Up, as part of our exclusive media partnership, will have our very own Brittney Kleyn and her talented team of videographers providing exclusive athlete interviews, in-depth coverage, highlights, analysis and daily recaps on our Australian CrossFit Championship Sanctional page.

  • Also follow along on the Australian CrossFit Championship complete leaderboard page powered by Competition Corner.
  • The schedule is available on the Sanctional Page and opens up on Thursday at 7:00 AM AEST. The opening event will be a variation of “Flags” and held on the iconic Kurrawa Beach.

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