CrossFit Games

Pair of Emmas—Cary and Lawson—Go One-Two on Friday at North America East Semifinal

May 19, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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After Day One at the North America East Semifinal in Orlando, FL, it’s the young, but already veteran-like Emmas—19-year-old Emma Cary and 18-year-old Emma Lawson—who lead the way in what can only be considered one of the most competitive Semifinals of the season.

In fact, none of the women sitting in the top five right now are a surprise, with perennial Games athletes Amanda Barnhart and Danielle Brandon sitting in third and fourth respectably, and 2022 Games rookie Alexis Raptis in fifth.

The biggest surprise: Brooke Wells, hoping to qualify for her ninth CrossFit Games this weekend, visibly struggled in both of Friday’s events. 

  • She stopped running twice on the Air Runner on Event One, finishing 17th overall, and was seen getting her left ankle treated after the event.
  • Meanwhile, on Event Two, while the athletes with the top scores completed their ring complexes largely unbroken, Wells was forced to do hers one at a time, eventually finishing 34th on the event. She heads into Day Two in 23rd overall, way outside of a qualifying position.

Friday Details

Event One: The weekend opened with a grueling workout featuring three hand-over-hand rope pulls, sandwiched between a 3,000-meter Echo bike, a 2,000-meter Assault Air Runner and a 1,000-meter SkiErg, and the early heats proved that even finishing the workout before the 30-minute time cap would be a feat.

Five women in the final heat, though, managed to complete the test, led by Brandon, who took the lead during the second heavy hand-over-hand pull. She kept it the rest of the way, finishing in 26:35.48, one minute and seven seconds faster than second place finisher, Amanda Fischer from Heat 2. Still, Brandon said the rope sled pull was heavy and “harder than I thought.”

  • “The sled was a whole other added thing,” she said in a post-event interview.

Danielle Kearns (Heat 2) finished third overall in the event, while Barnhart was fourth, Cary fifth, and Lawson seventh. 

Event Two: Event Two’s interval-style event featuring five ring complexes (consisting of one toes-to-ring, one muscle-up and one ring dip) followed by 20 single-leg squats before hitting as many burpee box jump overs as possible in the remainder of the three minute interval—all with a 10-pound ruck on the athlete’s back, we should add—proved to be all about who could finish the ring complexes the fastest. Ideally unbroken.

Up-and-comer Lexi Neely did just this in the fifth of six heats, completing all of her ring muscle-up complexes unbroken and finishing with 47 burpee box jump overs, well ahead of the leader at the time, Carolyne Prevost, who had completed 41 burpee box jump overs in the previous heat.

The final heat then was largely a race between Cary and Lawson, both of whom made the ring complexes look nearly effortless. But it was Lawson who was able to move a little quicker, edging Cary out by three burpee box jump overs (61 to 58 reps).

  • “For the most part, I was just trying to beat my score from practice…but obviously I was aware of where everyone kind of was around me (and) she definitely pushed me a lot, so it was a fun race,” said Lawson about her race with Cary.

Raptis finished with the third best score (51 reps), helping vault herself into fifth overall heading into Day Two.

The big picture: With 72 percent of the points still on the table, and 11 spots to the Games up for grabs, a lot can still happen in Orlando this weekend, but Day One has undoubtedly laid the foundation for Cary, Lawson, Barnhart and Brandon to cruise back to Madison. 

And on the other side of the fence, Day One has opened up a host of questions about Wells, who heading into the weekend was considered as much of a shoe-in to qualify to the Games as anyone. 

Is she injured? Can she dig herself out of 23rd position in the next five events? 

On paper at least, it looks like the next two events—two largely lifting events—are Wells’ jam, so our guess is if she’s healthy, don’t count her out.

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