2023 TYR Wodapalooza: Men’s Preview

December 20, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Corey Ransberg
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Once the calendar turns to 2023, the top male athletes in CrossFit will descend upon Miami for the TYR Wodapalooza. They will battle each other on January 12-15 for a piece of the $500,000 prize purse while putting their skills on display for the fans at Bayfront Park.

One big thing: The men’s division will be intriguing to watch for multiple reasons. Chief among them is that some athletes will be pulling “double duty” while testing themselves on the competition floor. 

  • Patrick Vellner, Ricky Garard, and Saxon Panchik, for example, will each be active in the individual division and the team division while enjoying a packed weekend of competition. 

There were two ways for the male athletes to punch their tickets to WZA. Several received invites based on their performances at the CrossFit Games, WZA, Granite Games, and other top competitions. Others had to secure their spots through the online qualifiers. 

The confirmed men:

  • Patrick Vellner
  • Dallin Pepper
  • Roman Khrennikov
  • Ricky Garard 
  • Nick Mathew
  • Guilherme Malheiros
  • Saxon Panchik
  • Jonne Koski
  • Fabian Beneito Selles
  • John Wood
  • Travon Benton
  • Fernando Llaneza
  • Damian Martinez Satorres
  • Matt Poulin
  • Benjamin Gutierrez
  • Lukas Grouleff
  • Luke Parker
  • Casper Gammelmark
  • Samuel Paquin
  • Jack Rozema
  • Kaique Cerveny
  • Phillip Muscarella
  • Cam Crockett
  • Leonel Franco
  • Nate Ackermann
  • Tiago Luzes
  • Ray Romanick
  • Peter Mason

An elite number: There is one surname that stands out heading to the annual celebration of fitness in Miami – Vellner. The perennial CrossFit Games competitor has been the class of the WZA field for multiple years. He won in 2019 and 2020 before adding his third WZA title in 2022 (there was no event in 2021 due to Covid).

  • Vellner will now attempt to win his fourth title in 2023 after finishing sixth at the NOBULL CrossFit Games and fourth at the Rogue Invitational. Though he will have to contend with some standout athletes. 
  • If Vellner can win his fourth WZA title, he will break a tie with Noah Ohlsen. The veteran CrossFitter won three straight from 2015-2017. Streat Hoerner then won in 2018 before Vellner kicked off his own run of dominance. 

Khrennikov and Garard stand out as the two top athletes that could challenge for the throne. Both finished on the podium at the CrossFit Games, and they each had standout moments at the Rogue Invitational. Khrennikov, in particular, won Event 4 before ending the weekend fifth overall. 

Every individual athlete in the men’s division brings something unique to the table, which will only make the competition more intriguing. There will be moments where athletes such as Luke Parker, Dallin Pepper, Tiago Luzes, and Fabian Beneito Selles shine while performing under the lights. 

  • Saxon Panchik is one such athlete. He has competed at WZA multiple times, both as an individual and on a team. The veteran athlete posted top-five finishes in 2019 and 2020 before finishing eighth in 2022. Panchik continues to make strides on the competition floor, so it’s only expected that he will once again challenge for a podium spot. 
  • Pepper, for comparison, has experience in two separate divisions. He won the 16-18 division in 2019 before moving up to Elite in 2022 and finishing fifth overall. The 2022 MACC runner-up will now make his return to WZA with his sights set on the podium. 

When it comes to combining athleticism with the ability to hype up the crowd, there are two athletes that stand out. Nobody can quite accomplish this like Guilherme Malheiros and Nick Mathew. The two CrossFit Games competitors have used recent seasons to showcase their specific talents while getting the crowd involved. 

  • Malheiros’ big moment occurred during the 2021 CrossFit Games. He went toe-to-toe with Vellner and Royce Dunne in the one-rep max snatch event, and he bested them both with a weight of 305 pounds. This win – his third of the weekend – led to a celebratory roar from the crowd. Now he will be ready for a fight after winning the RX division in 2020 and competing in 2022. 
  • Mathew is no stranger to putting on a show under the lights. He won two events at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games, including the heavy sandbag ladder, and he did so while wearing his signature crop top.  
  • Mathew is like the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s flashy, he puts on a show whenever he has the chance, and he has a fanbase that travels. His supporters stand out in a crowd and they let everyone know exactly who they want to win. 

The big picture: There are numerous storylines to track during the TYR Wodapalooza in January. The continued rise of Pepper and Malheiros is only one example while Vellner’s pursuit of history is yet another. No one knows how the competition will play out, but there is no doubt that the field will be full of standout athletes.

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