CrossFit Games

2022 CrossFit Games Preview: Women’s Masters Divisions

July 27, 2022 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit LLC
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Seventy women, ten in each of the seven divisions, will battle for podium spots in the Masters Divisions during three days of competition at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games in Madison, WI.

For the women’s field, three champions return to defend their titles.

The ten athletes in each division battled it out in the online Semifinals. The top-three finishers of each respective Semifinals are listed below.

35-39 Age Group Division

Chyna Cho | Photo Credit: Elizabeth Cox

Eight national flags will be represented at the Games in this field, the most in any age group. Seven of the women will be competing as a Masters athlete for the first time. However there is a ton of Games experience in this field as seven of the women have combined for over 16 Games appearances including 10 as individual competitors.

Fan favorite Chyna Cho won the Semifinal by 48 points over Swede Angelica Bengtsson. Cho last appeared at the Games in 2019 where she was a member of the team champion, CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. Cho placed in the top-5 in five of the six workouts including an event win in workout 2, finishing the triplet with a time of 11:56. She makes her seventh Games appearance and first as a Masters athlete.

Bengtsson is a three-time Regional athlete, competing twice as an individual in 2015 and 2017 in the Meridian. Last year she just missed qualifying for the Games on a team, placing seventh with CrossFit Falun Måndagsklubben at the German Throwdown Semifinal. She had two event wins in the Semifinals including the max clean and jerk with a lift of 220 LBs.

Iran’s Maryam Zanbagh makes the Games for the first time as a 38-year old firefighter after a third place finish in the Semifinals, winning two workouts in that stage.

The Czech Republic’s Aneta Tucker is the top returner in the division, last year’s third place finisher tied Finland’s Emilia Leppänen for fourth in the Semifinals. Tucker joins last year’s seventh place finisher Christelle El Debs and Carleen Mathews as previous division veterans.

Leppänen makes her third trip to Madison and her first as a Masters athlete. The four-time Finnish National Champion competed in 2019 before returning to the big stage last year, placing 29th.

For Mathews this is her first appearance at the Games since competing in the division in 2019, placing second in her first year as a Masters athlete. Prior to that she made three individual Games appearances thanks to a dominating run through the West Regionals from 2015-2017, winning back-to-back crowns in 2016 and 2017. She placed ninth in the Semifinals, recording three top-5 finishes.

Brazil’s Anita Pravatti and American Mallory Berger make their division debut but have each competed at the Games on a team.

The UK’s Victoria Finn Smith joins Zanbagh and Bengtsson as Games rookies.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Chyna Cho
  2. Angelica Bengtsson
  3. Maryam Zanbagh

40-44 Age Group Division

This is the only women’s age group division that returns all three podium finishers from last year’s Games. All but one woman has competed at the Games in some capacity with all having competed as a Masters athlete at one point in their career.

Brit Kelly Friel will have the opportunity to defend her division title after winning the Semifinals by 64 points over Italy’s Guilia Roggio. The 44-year old has three Games appearances, all in this division, placing no worse than second each time to go with her title last  year.

Roggio made her Games debut last year, placing 14th. This year she won the Open for the division at 42 years old before placing second in the Semifinals to punch her second-straight ticket to Madison.

Rebecca Voigt Miller has appeared at every Games since 2012, the lone exception being during the 2020 season when the division was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She declined her Semifinals invite to the Granite Games to compete in the Masters division for the third time in her career, finishing third in the Semis and advancing to her 10th Games. Last year she finished second behind Friel. This will be her fourth time competing as a Masters athlete, her previous three times she finished on the podium.

Kelly Marshall placed fourth and gives the UK two representatives in the division. She looks to return to the podium after placing third last year at the Games.

Argentina’s Jimena Delamer makes her division debut after previously competing at the Games twice in the 35-39 division including last year. She competed in the South America Quarterfinals, placing eighth but like Voigt Miller she declined her Semifinal invite and instead placed fifth in the Age Group Semifinals.

Mayra Brandt returns to the Games after four years, she competed twice in the 35-39 division back in 2017 and 2018, placing fifth each time.

Like Delamer and Voigt Miller, Jenn Ryan also received an invite to compete at the Semifinals after placing 89th in the North America Quarterfinals. She declined her invite to the Granite Games and instead qualified for her fifth Games and her second as a Masters athlete. A staple of the CrossFit Invictus, she has competed three times at the Games on their team including last year when her team won the West Coast Classic Semifinal and went on to finish 19th at the Games despite Ryan competing with a fractured hand

American Kim Mullins received the final invite to the Games, placing tenth in the Semifinals. The 44-year old won two events in the Semis including winning the max clean and jerk with a lift of 227 LBs. Last year she placed eighth in the division at the Games.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Kelly Friel
  2. Giulia Roggio
  3. Rebecca Voigt Miller

45-49 Age Group Division

Photo Credit: Ali Crawford Instagram

Two of the division’s podium finishers return with their eyes on the title. Seven of the women have prior Games experience including five who competed in the division last year.

The United Kingdom’s Ali Crawford added a semifinal win to go with her quarterfinal victory. Crawford was last year’s runner-up, finishing five points behind Annie Sakamoto. Fellow 2021 podium finisher Jennifer Dieter finished eighth and qualified for her seventh Games as a Masters athlete.

Michelle Suozzi actually tied Crawford in her first taste of the new Games format after an injury ended her 2021 season. Suozzi won three events including a winning clean and jerk of 205 LBs in the final workout. The American has two prior Games appearances, last competing in 2019 where she placed sixth in the 40-44 division.

Jessica Manfro placed third in the Semifinal after finishing just outside the podium at last year’s Games.

Karen McCadam makes her seventh Games appearance after debuting in the division last year. She has two runner-up finishes in her Games career. The five-time individual Regional athlete placed fifth in this year’s Semifinals.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Michelle Suozzi
  2. Ali Crawford
  3. Jessica Manfro

50-54 Age Group Division

Photo Credit: Cheryl Brost Instagram

Unlike their counterparts in the men’s division, the women’s field will have plenty of experience as eight of the ten athletes competing have Games experience with six making their division debut.

Tea Gebbie earned her first ever Games invitation after a dominating performance in the Semifinals which included three event wins. Gebbie ranked fifth worldwide in this year’s Open and placed third in the Quarterfinals.

Cheryl Brost made her return to competition a successful one after three years away, placing second in the Semifinals and qualifying for her fourth different division. The former individual competitor – placing seventh at the 2011 Games – she won the 45-49 titles in 2016 and 2017.

One of the Games newcomers is Canadian Kim Purdy who placed third in the Semifinals. Prior to that stage she placed fourth in the Open and in the Online Qualifier.

Tracy O’Connell, Marcie Wells, Julie Ackermann and Nathalie Connors make their debut in the division this year after all placing in the top-10 in the 45-49 division.

Carrie Sandoval is the top returner from the division, finishing third last year.

Danish athlete Marianne Højbjerg is the lone individual not from North America. Last year she placed fifth at the Games.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Tea Gebbie
  2. Cheryl Brost
  3. Kim Purdy

55-59 Age Group Division

The division will have six athletes from last year’s Games returning to make another run at the title, among that group are five women who finished in the top-10.

Laurie Meschishnick won her second Games title last year as she held off Karen Lundgren to win the title in her stellar ninth season. The Canadian placed fifth in the Quarterfinals and then again in the Semifinals.

Brit Joanne McCullough won three workouts during the Semifinals including the max clean and jerk with a lift of 169 LBs. She placed sixth last year in her Games debut.

Fougere competed last year in the 50-54 division and qualified for her second Games in the division. This year she moves up to a new division where she placed second in the Semifinals.

Pediatrician Shanna Bunce turned her first trip to the Games last year into a fifth place finish in the division. This year she turned that finish into a third place at the Semifinals.

After Meschishnick, Linda Elstun has the most Games experience with seven previous trips. Her fourth place Semifinal finish gives her eight and second within the division. She placed second in 2019 and placed seventh last year.

Brit Leigh Coates won the Quarterfinal and placed sixth in the Semifinals to earn her first Games invitation.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Joanne McCullough
  2. Cici Fougere
  3. Shanna Bunce

60-64 Age Group Division

Photo Credit: Lynne Knapman Instagram

This group is full of Games veterans with seven of the athletes having previous trips to the big show. Noticeably absent from the Semifinals is record-breaking, five-time champ Susan Clarke, who has not participated in any stages this season and is taking the year off.

Shelly Chapple will be making her first-ever Games appearance after her Semifinal victory. In the Semis she finished no worse than eighth in any of the six workouts and won the max clean and jerk with a lift of 170 pounds.

Canadian and last year’s third place finisher Patricia McGill has podium finishes in both of her Games appearances in the division (2nd in 2019). She placed second in both the Quarterfinal and Semifinal stages.

Debbie Downing makes her return to the Games after a three year hiatus, last competing in 2019 in the 55-59 division. The Kiwi has five previous Games trips under her weight belt with her highest finish being seventh in 2012 and 2019. Downing and Chapple are the only two athletes in the division with all top-10 finishes in the Semifinals.

Also returning to the Games after a three year break is Mary Beth Prodromides who is looking to make history by winning her third title in a different division. She has won titles in the 50-54 (2014) and the 55-59 (2016 and 2018) divisions. In her seven Games appearances she has collected five podium finishes.

Australian Lynne Knapman is the only athlete to have qualified for every CrossFit Games masters competition. She has competed in every Games since 2010 for a record 12 appearances (this being her 13th trip), having never placed outside the top-10, yet has never won a title. She placed fifth in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals after finishing fourth at the Games last year.

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Shelly Chapple
  2. Patricia McGill
  3. Debbie Downing

65+ Age Group Division

This division features six newcomers but just one of them is a Games rookie. Of the four returning division veterans just two finished in the top-10 at last year’s Games.

Patty Bauer returns to defend her division crown after a 90 point victory last year. She won the crown last year in her very first Games appearance and heads into this year’s Games after a fourth place finish in the Semifinals where she put up the division’s top weight in the max clean and jerk with a weight of 130 pounds.

Swede Pia Gund just missed out on a podium spot in the division last year by just five points, finishing fourth. This will be her fifth trip to the Games, finishing in the top-5 in all her previous appearances. She won the Semifinal thanks to five top-5 finishes including two event wins.

Retired collegiate basketball coach has been able to channel her competitiveness into CrossFit as she has qualified for her fourth Games. She last appeared in Madison in 2019 when she recorded her highest career finish in the Games, placing sixth in the 60+ division. She placed second in the Semifinal, winning one event and recording three second place finishes.

Marcia Yager won the Quarterfinals and followed that with a third place finish in the Semifinals. She will be making her third Games appearance and first since 2018. In her Games debut in 2017 she placed third in the 60+ division.

Consuelo Cruz and Terry Carey are the other two division holdovers from last year.

At 72 years old, the Netherland’s Joke Dikhoff is the oldest woman to qualify for the Games. A two-time Games veteran, she finished the Semifinal in sixth place and will be making her first Games appearance since 2015.  

Age Group Semifinals Top 3:

  1. Pia Gund
  2. Julie Holt
  3. Marcia Yager

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