2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games North America East Semifinals Preview
CrossFit Semifinals are mere days away from kicking off, and will be held over the course of three weekends, worldwide. Two are slated for the first weekend, May 18-21, with one of them being the North America East, qualifying the largest number of spots for any Semifinal competition: 12 for men and 11 for women.
The lineup is full of heavy-hitters with Games veterans like Noah Ohlsen, Jayson Hopper, Amanda Barnhart and Danielle Brandon all vying for one of the qualifying spots. Brothers Spencer and Saxon Panchik will be competing alongside one another, as well as sisters Brooke and Sydney Wells. With Mal O’Brien announcing her withdrawal from competition, the weekend is shaping up to be wide open on the women’s side.
Some familiar faces are expected to finish on top of the leaderboard based on strong rankings in Quarterfinals. But with 12 qualifying spots, there may be some new names on the Games roster.
- Jeffery Adler will be attempting to return to the Games for his 5th consecutive year. Adler continues to improve and has claimed that his 2023 Open win was a surprise, that he was not yet at his peak for the season. Taking 2nd place in Quarterfinals in North America East, Adler is poised to secure a spot among the 12.
- Dallin Pepper has been training with the Brute Strength crew and making waves, finishing 8th in the Open and 1st in North America East Quarterfinals. As a three-time teens champion, this season would be his second time as an individual at the Games.
- Spencer Panchik, who finished 5th in Quarterfinals, will be hoping to return to Madison this year. Last year’s MACC delivered a nail-biting finish for him, as he secured a 5th place spot, and went on to finish 20th at the Games. He will be competing alongside (and against) his brother, Saxon Panchik, winner of the MACC in 2022 and the Granite Games in 2021.
- Bubble athlete Marquan Jones will be fighting for a chance to return to the Games, since his last appearance in 2018. Finishing in 13th place in Quarterfinals puts him in contention to challenge fellow North America East athletes for one of the 12 spots. Jones placed 13th both in 2021 and 2022 at the Granite Games and the MACC, respectively. Training out of CrossFit Roseland in New Jersey, Jones could quite possibly secure his ticket to the Games.
- Odds-on favorite Roman Khrennikov, 2nd place in both the 2022 CrossFit Games and Wodapalooza will be competing, and always puts on a show.
- Other notable athletes to watch will be Games veterans Will Moorad, Alexandre Caron, Alex Vigneault and Sam Cournoyer. Tyler Christophel will be battling, after barely missing out on a spot last year at the MACC, (see Spencer Panchik’s aforementioned nail-biting finish). Also, a close eye will be kept on Jack Farlow and James Sprague, who would be potential new Games competitors in the individual field this year, finishing 6th and 9th, respectively, in the North America East Quarterfinals.
The women’s field is rife with competition, as five of the top ten 2022 Games finalists will be competing, as well as a number of young, hungry up-and-comers. Amongst those top five competitors, sits Brooke Wells, who has twice as many individual Games appearances than the other four combined. This should be an indicator that some young blood will likely be Games bound.
- Paige Powers proved herself at Wodapalooza, as she took 1st place in a strong field of competition. Training with the Mayhem athletes has built her into a young powerhouse, finishing 13th in North America East Quarterfinals and 2nd in the Open, worldwide.
- Former teen champion, nineteen year old Emma Cary, finished in 2nd to Paige Powers at Wodapalooza this January. She’s heading into Semifinals healthy and gunning for a top spot. She finished 3rd in Quarterfinals and has been training this season in Naples, Florida with Matthew Torres and the Brute Strength crew. Fully recovered from her injury that kept her from the Games in 2022, she’s arriving at Semifinals ready for a comeback.
- Anikha Greer, now training with Max El-Hag and Training Think Tank, is ready to battle. After suffering a back injury earlier this season, and withstanding a technical glitch that kept her from the Games in 2022, she is healthy and highly motivated. Her fortitude and determination in the midst of her setbacks could serve her well as she competes for a Games spot.
- Not quite a bubble athlete, but also not quite a shoo in, Feeroozeh Saghafi will be challenging fellow North America East women for one of the top 11 spots. She’s poised for a strong finish this year, finishing 9th in Quarterfinals, after consistently finishing in 7th place and not qualifying for Madison at the MACC in 2021, the Granite Games in 2022 and the Last Chance Qualifier, also in 2022. A 7th place for her this year would be a comfortable finish, and could safely send her to the Games.
- Perennial Games athletes Brooke Wells, Amanda Barnhart and Danielle Brandon are all expected to punch their tickets to Madison. Youngsters Alexis Raptis and Emma Lawson are also major contenders, who have their sights set on returning to the Games.
Semifinals kick off this weekend and with such a strength of field in this region, including seasoned Games veterans as well as young newcomers, it’s possible there will be at least a few surprises.