2020 CrossFit Games Age Group Preview: Men and Women Ages 40-44
Today we preview the second of eight divisions of the 2020 CrossFit Games Age Group as it stands currently. These standings are unofficial after the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) scores were submitted and could change due to score adjustments. The top-25 athletes in each division must submit videos to CrossFit HQ for review. The video review period concludes on April 13 and the top ten athletes in each division receive an invitation to the Games.
Chad Schroeder dives deeply into the numbers of the AGOQ, breaking down all the divisions with his statistical analysis.
Men’s 40-44 division: The men’s division features a newcomer from France who dominated in the AGOQ. The division also features seven athletes from the United States four of whom will be making their Games debut.
- Alexandre Jolivet makes his debut in the 40-44 division after competing at the last three Games in the 35-39 age group. Last year he just missed the podium, finishing fourth after finishing as the runner-up in the division in 2018. The French national won his new division’s AGOQ with 21 points, the second-lowest point total across all Masters divisions. His 64-point margin of victory was the largest throughout all the AGOQ divisions. Jolivet’s worst finish in the AGOQ was tenth, as his average placing was 3.6. He was the only athlete in his division to win multiple events, winning event two (chest-to-bar and overhead squats) and event six (deadlifts, deficit handstand push-ups and front squats).
- Tony Kurz was able to recover from a slow start in event one to secure his second-straight Games invitation. A member of the Army Warrior Fitness Team and an Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel, he finished eighth last year at the Games in this division, after winning the AGOQ. Kurz recorded his first career event win in the final event of the Games, winning the second portion of the “Bi-Couplet” workout. Kurz has collected two Sanctional titles this year in the 40-44 Masters division, winning at Strength in Depth in London, England before taking the title at the Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival. He dominated in Miami, Florida with five event wins en route to winning by 122 points. This year in the AGOQ, Kurz recorded three top-ten finishes including an event win in workout three.
- Josh Petlowany tied Kurz for second place in the AGOQ with 86 points. A Regionals veteran in both the individual and team competitions, he earned his first invitation to the Games. Petlowany’s best finish in the AGOQ was third place in event six while adding a sixth place finish in event two as well as two 11th place finishes.
- Heath Moody receives his second-straight Games invitation after placing fourth in the AGOQ. Last year he placed seventh, thanks to three third place finishes, after placing second in the 2019 AGOQ. Moody’s best finish in this year’s AGOQ was fifth in the max clean and jerk event.
- Brian Kunitzer will make his Games debut this year after coming up short in the 2019 AGOQ. The multiple-time Regionals competitor recorded two top-ten finishes in this year’s AGOQ to secure his invitation. Kunitzer podiumed at Wodapalooza as well, placing third in the 40-44 division.
- Ryan McCarthy will represent his home country of New Zealand in his first ever Games appearance. He recorded four top-ten finishes including a fourth place finish in event four. Last year he just missed qualifying after finishing 12th in the AGOQ.
- Jeremy Hilsen returns to the Games after coming up short the last two seasons. He makes his debut in the 40-44 division after making his initial Games appearance in the 35-39 division at the 2017 Games. Hilsen also competed in the 40-44 division at Wodapalooza in February, placing fifth. He recorded two top-ten finishes in the AGOQ.
- Robby McCord missed out on qualifying for the Games last year after finishing 13th in the AGOQ. This year he finished eighth, thanks to four top-15 finishes, to earn his first career invitation to the Games,
- Caine Hayes finished third in the division last year but did not stand on the podium. Robbie Perovich received that honor before failing his drug test and giving up the bronze medal. Hayes won the opening event of this year’s AGOQ to help propel him to the third Games appearance of his career. The Australian made his Games debut as a member of CrossFit Injustice at the 2017 Games. Last year Hayes won the “Sandbag Triplet” event at the Games, the first of two top-three finishes.
- Brian Francis will receive his first career Games invitation, taking the final spot in the division. The Regionals veteran, claimed the final spot by two points thanks in part to a second place finish in the final event.
Outside looking in: David Johnston, David Levey, Luke Wotruba, Jason Grubb and Art Hamilton are the next five athletes outside the cutline. Grubb is the most notable as he stands in 14th place, 37 points out of the qualifying spot. Grubb is the defending division title-holder, winning in dominating fashion last year. In 2018, Grubb placed third in the division. Johnston, a fourth place finisher in the division at the 2018 Games, is two points out of the final spot. David Levey is a multiple Games athlete, competing as an individual and recently within the division, finishing second in 2018.
Women’s 40-44 division: The women’s division features a mix of division veterans and newcomers. Among the veterans are four athletes who competed in the division at the Games last year including the runner-up finisher. Four other athletes make their division debuts including the AGOQ champion.
- Jenn Ryan will make her debut in the division after competing in the 35-39 division in 2019 where she placed eighth. However she could give up her spot if the Sanctional season resumes. The veteran of two CrossFit Invictus teams that competed in the games, she recently just missed qualifying for the Games on a team at the Brazil CrossFit Championship with Invictus Brazil. Ryan won the AGOQ despite not winning a single event. She was a model of consistency, though, with five top-ten finishes.
- Kelly Friel makes it three years in a row that she has qualified for the Games in the division. Friel has been the runner-up at the Games each of her previous two trips. Last year the native of the United Kingdom won two events at the Games, the most of any of the competitors.
- Giulia Roggio qualified for her first career Games appearance after finishing third in the AGOQ. The Italian was one of two women in her division that won multiple events.
- Valerie Voboril competes as a Masters athlete for the first time in her career. A highly decorated Games athlete, she has six Games appearances as an individual, last competing in 2017 at 38 years old. In her career she has four top-five finishes including two third pace finishes. Competing in just her first career AGOQ she placed fourth thanks to three top-five finishes. She also placed second at Wodapalooza in the 40-44 division in February, recording four event wins.
- Laura Nielsen bounced back from a tough 2019 season this year to claim her second Games invitation. In 2018, she received her first invite and placed 11th in the division. Nielsen joined Roggio as a multiple event winner in the AGOQ within the division this year, winning event one and event six.
- Michelle Suozzi makes her third appearance at the Games in this division. Her first appearance was in 2017 before missing the cut in 2018. Last year she placed sixth at the Games with an event win in the 2-rep max overhead squat. Max lifting events appear to be her strength as she won the one rep max clean and jerk event in this year’s AGOQ with a lift of 245 lbs.
- Melissa Wistrom earned her third-straight Games invitation with a seventh place finish in the AGOQ. Wistrom is looking to break the pattern of seventh place finishes in the division, in both of her Games appearances she finished in that spot. She recorded three top-ten finishes in the AGOQ, including two third place finishes.
- Jenna Larson secured her fourth straight Games invitation in the Masters division. She competed in the 35-39 division from 2017-2018 before moving up to the 40-44 division last year. She just missed a podium finish at the 2019 Games, placing fourth. Last year she recorded four-top finishes including a runner-up finish, highlighting her performance in Madison. In February she competed at Wodapalooza in the 40-44 division, finishing fifth.
- Sara Blunck debuts in the division after competing in the 35-39 group. This will be her second Games trip as she competed in 2017, placing 15th in the 35-39 division. The Regional veteran placed third in her new age group at Wodapalooza, placing in the top-five in all seven events, including an event win.
- Mayra Brandt is also a newcomer to the division but not to the Games. This will be her third appearance after competing in the 35-39 division in both 2017 and 2018. In both those appearances, Brandt placed fifth overall. In this year’s AGOQ she had five top-ten finishes including a fifth place finish that proved to be the tiebreaker and earned her an appearance to the Games.
Outside looking in: Deanna Posey, Kim Mullins, Jenn Short, Michelle Benedict and Shanae Leavitt are the next five athletes outside the cutline. Posey tied Brandt for the tenth and final spot but lost out due to the tiebreaker. Posey was a podium finisher in the division at the Games last year, finishing third. Mullins also competed in the division at the Games last year, placing eighth.