Teen Beat: How the Teen Divisions Stack Up on the Open Leaderboard after 21.1

March 19, 2021 by and
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Over the next three weeks of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games Open we are going to track the performances and compare how the teen division and recent teen alums stack up against the top athletes on the Open leaderboard. 

We are going to focus on the 16-17 age group division as the future of the sport, but also highlight the 14-15 division and the top performances where possible.

Girls 16-17 Division: Heading into the Open, all eyes were on 17-year old Mal O’Brien who has been putting up huge weight and performances since her dominating victory at the Pit Fitness Ranch Elite Teen Throwdown back in September. She didn’t disappoint as she completed the workout in 11:06 good enough for fourth overall and just one second behind two-time Games athlete Danielle Brandon for third and four seconds behind event winner Johanna Juliusdottir. She headlines the 10 girls in the division that completed the workout under the 15 minute cap.

  • Emma Cary: After aging-up into the 16-17 division last year, the 2019 CrossFit Games 14-15 Girls champion was looking to break through into the elite division as evidenced by her 80th place finish in last year’s Open. This year she completed 21.1 in 11:48 putting her in 14th place.
  • Jadzia Onorati-Phillips and Emma Lawson: Tied for 79th place with a time of 13:24, the two 16-year olds join the short list of just four girls at that age in the top 200.
  • Jaydan Velasquez: The third 16-year old in the top 200 is the newcomer to the sport having picked up CrossFit last January. Her time of 13:50 ranks 134th.
  • Paulina Haro: In 21.1, the Mexican 17-year-old showed she’s more than just an athlete who’s known for her strength (215-pound jerk at 14-years-old) placing 192nd with a time of 14:17.
  • Olivia Sulek: The youngest ever Games champion after her 2018 win in the 14-15 Girls division, is showing her 50th place finish in the overall leaderboard in last year’s Open was no fluke and she’s ready to compete with the pros. She finished 21.1 in 14:19, good enough for 199th.
  • Roxie Flesher (14:24) and 16-year olds Jessica Gorka (14:36) and Nadia Szymialis (14:46) round out the remaining girls in the division that finished under the 15 minute cap for 21.1

Boys 16-17 Division: The familiar names in the boys divisions from the past few years are no longer there as they have graduated to the individual division (more on them later) with the new crop of boy athletes not yet making the impact on the overall leaderboard as their girl counterparts, despite having more athletes finish under the cap overall with 15. However, the top three boys in the division on the leaderboard share something in common, they are all 16 years old.

  • Lucas Haefner: Competing in his third Open, the American sits in an impressive 76th place with a time of 12:59.
  • Elion Bobani: A 16-year old from Kosovo, Bobani finished 21.1 in 13:23 which puts him 135th overall.
  • Zach Cygan: Rounding out the top three teens in the division is the 16-year old American. His time of 13:30 ranks 165th.
  • Hiko O Te Rangi Curtis: From New Zealand, the 17-year old Curtis could push for a spot in the quarterfinals if he can maintain his performance from 21.1 where he placed 192nd overall with a time of 13:37.

The 14-15 Division: Athletes in the 14-15 division are not included in the overall leaderboard because some of their workouts are scaled. But for 21.1 they athletes in teh division had teh same standards as the individual athletes.

  • Five girls in the division finished under the cap with 14-year old Hayes Willard finishing in 13:53 which would rank her 139th if she was eligible. 
  • Six boys finished the workout led by 15-year old Kaiden Hogan. Hogan finished in 12:23, better than Haefner in the 16-17 year old division. That time would have placed him 32nd worldwide in the overall leaderboard.

Age Group Alumni: 19 athletes with teen division roots, now in their individual division stint, made an appearance in the Top 200, all finishing the workout well under the 15-minute cap.

  • Men: Dallin Pepper (45th, 12:38), Tudor Magda (47th, 13:39), Cole Greashaber (83rd, 13:01), Luke De Jonge (93rd, 13:04), Matus Kocar (120th, 13:18), and James Sprague (162nd, 13:28).
  • Women: Alexis Raptis (5th, 11:14), Haley Adams (8th, 11:33), Isabella Vallejo (20th, 12:11), Lilly Rodriguez (22nd, 12:11), Faith Ferguson (55th, 13:08), Filippa Ferm (65th, 13:12), Kaela Stephano (74th, 13:19), Lindsey Porter (92nd, 13:30), Shelby Neal (103rd, 13:36), Brittany Weiss (106th, 13:38), Rebecca Fuselier (111th, 13:43), Paige Powers (122nd, 13:47), Brady Wallace (129th, 13:49), Lexi Neely (168th, 14:04), Gabriela Migala (174th, 14:08).

So What? A Promising Trend Reversal: Since the inception of the teen division in 2015, the pipeline to the individual division has been lackluster at best, especially for the boys division, with only eight teens ever making the jump. Open WOD 21.1 shows the opposite, however. The teens are starting to come through stronger than ever, and sooner than ever. 

  • Before 2019, no former teen athlete had ever qualified for the Games as an individual. Haley Adams and George Sterner are the only two to ever qualify via the Open, the other eight gaining their ticket through a National Champion spot.
  • Leaving behind the Sanctionals system, the 2021 qualification circuit relies on an online Quarterfinals and in-person, Regionals-style Semifinals. The top 120 men and women in North America, for example, will gain access to the Semifinals.
  • With these new rules, the likelihood that there will be teen athletes competing in the quarterfinals is a given with the high probability that some of them will move onto the semifinals and compete for a spot at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games.

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