CrossFit Games

Day Two: Emma Cary Holds Lead at North America East Semifinal, Amanda Barnhart Moves into Second

May 20, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Emma Cary paid no attention to the fact that Saturday is supposed to be Moving Day. She entered Day Two as your leader at the North America East Semifinal in Orlando, FL, and she refused to budge from there. 

The 19-year-old, whose season was cut short last year due to a back injury, leads all competitors heading into the final day of competition, and is the only athlete who has finished all five events inside the top 10 so far.

Six points behind Cary in second is five-time CrossFit Games veteran Amanda Barnhart. She entered the second day of competition in third place overall, but after putting forth a huge day, including an event win, Barnhart sits comfortably in second, 17 points ahead of 18-year-old Emma Lawson.

Saturday Details

Event Three: Barnhart started the day with an event win on Semifinals Linda, finishing in 11:46.61, 34 seconds faster than 23-year-old Caroline Stanley, whose second place finish on the event helped launch her into the top five heading into Event 4. 

  • Emma Cary, the leader heading into the day, had her lowest, yet still respectable, placing of the weekend so far—10th—bumping her to third overall at the time, while Emma Lawson (second heading into the day) finished 20th, dropping her to third overall. That being said, finishing 20th on a purely strength event for last year’s CrossFit Games Rookie of the Year, has to be seen as a win, as generally speaking strength has been known as this young athlete’s weakness.

Event Four: Danielle Paran set the lift to beat in the second heat, posting a 210-pound max snatch after an 800-meter run, a lift that wouldn’t be repeated again, giving Paran the event win.

  • The next four lifts belonged to four other athletes currently sitting outside of the top three: Ashleigh Wosny (205 pounds), Emma Harvang (205 pounds), Paige Powers (200 pounds) and Amanda Fischer (200 pounds)
  • Veterans Barnhart and Danielle Brandon were close behind with 195-pound lifts, while Lawson, too, hit 195 pounds, proving she has been working on her lifting since last season. The lift was good enough for seventh overall.

Event Five: Like the previous, Event Five’s winner belonged to an athlete from an earlier heat—Sydney Wells. Her time of 3:09.58 on the test featuring eight 125-pound snatches followed by an 800-meter run for time proved too fast to be touched by any athletes in the final heat.

  • The next four fastest times, however, all belonged to women in the final heat, with Cary finishing second overall (3:11.31), followed by Brandon (3:15.16), Lawson (3:17.56) and Alexis Raptis (3:22.17).

Three More Takeaways

Doing her thing: Powers, a 2022 Games rookie and the 2023 TYR Wodapalooza champion, has had a quiet, but consistently impressive competition all weekend. She started Saturday with a third place finish on Semifinals Linda, and followed that up with two more top 10 finishes (4th and eighth), including snatching 200 pounds on Event Four. She sits comfortable in fifth place with two events to go.

Training Camp Change Paying Off? This season, Barnhart switched camps and began training with five-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser’s HWPO crew. And if the first two days of competition in Orlando are any indication of how it’s going, it’s safe to say the move has paid off. Barnhart is certainly confident it’s the right place for her, saying the coaching she has received has been a “game changer.”

  • “When I saw all the workouts, I was like, ‘Ok, we’re ready.’ And I think that says a lot about (HWPO) programming and training and what I have been doing in training up until this point…I feel very very prepared,” she said in an interview after her event win.

What about Wells? Brooke Wells, who was expected to qualify to her ninth CrossFit Games this year, has had a tough weekend, and needed big showings on Event Four and Five to have a chance to get herself into the top 11. And while she had a top 10 finish on Event Five, she was well back in 25th on Event Four and heads into the final day of competition in 21st overall, 55 points behind her sister Sydney Wells, who is currently sitting in the final qualification position in 11th.

The big picture: With 11 invites to the Games up for grabs, the current top five athletes—Cary, Barnhart, Lawson, Brandon and Powers—seem like almost a lock at this point, so Sunday is going to be all about watching the five athletes on the bubble.

Right now, Fischer sits in ninth, Paige Semenza in 10th, Sydney Wells in 11th, Wosny in 12th and Keara Napoli in 13th. Only 19 points separate Fischer in ninth and Napoli in 13th, so mathematically anyone of them still has a great chance at punching their tickets. But there just might only be room for three of them.

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