CrossFit Games

The Professor, Brent Fikowski Ends Day One Atop Leaderboard at North America West

May 26, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Evill Media Sports
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The North America West Semifinal kicked off Friday with nine qualifying spots available on the men’s side of competition. Every point will matter this weekend since 11 of the 60 competitors already have CrossFit Games experience as an individual. 

Test 1: The combination of strongman and endurance continues to challenge the world’s most elite athletes. The crux of the workout has been the hand-over-hand pull, which jacks up the heart-rate and rewards individuals who can recover while maintaining a competitive pace on the machines. In North America West, 52 of the 60 male competitors finished inside the 30 minute time cap with Brent Fikowski topping the leaderboard to start the weekend in Pasadena. 

  • Brent Fikowski started his Semifinal with an event win, finishing Test 1 in 23:02 and told Chase Ingram in a post-test interview: “After all these years baby…still got it.” Fikowski said he felt as prepared as possible, experimenting with multiple sleds weighing up to 380 pounds in training. He also took advantage of competing in the second week of Semifinals, studying the competitors from last week and attempting to mimic the sled technique of athletes who performed well. 
  • Rafael Sancen finished Test 1 in 23:19, putting him in second place overall to start his 2023 Semifinal. Sancen finished 12th at the 2022 Syndicate Crown Semifinal and came into the weekend after spending four weeks at HWPO’s new headquarters in Vermont, where he trained under Mat Fraser and the growing team of athletes. He spoke about his experience on his instagram in a recent post: “I’ve been prepping for semis and learning from some of the best in the game and working out next to some of the best in the game has been such a great experience.” Sancen finished 26th in Test 2 and heads into Saturday sitting in 11th overall. 
  • Cole Greashaber took third in Test 1 with a 23:34 finish earning 94 points to start his weekend. Greashaber finished 6th in Elevated Elizabeth at the 2022 CrossFit Games, so look out for him tomorrow in Semifinals Linda with 55 squat cleans on the docket. He’s also one of the top male competitors at handstands, so expect to see him create separation on Sunday’s handstand pirouettes in Test 6. He finished Test 2 in 11th place and second place overall heading into Saturday. 
  • Matthew Greene made moves in Test 1, finishing fourth overall with a time of 23:44. Greene’s background in wrestling and grappling definitely made an impact with this grunt-work style endurance event, which required incredible grip and pulling strength. Greene would go on to take 50th place in Test 2 and finish the first day of competition in 18th place overall. 
  • Samuel Kwant picked up where he left off in 2022, starting the weekend with a fifth place finish and time of 23:52, which was one second ahead of the reigning fittest man on earth. Kwant’s low-key approach may not be flashy, but it’s been good enough for a second place finish at the 2020 CrossFit Games and fourth place finish in 2022. 
  • The back-to-back reigning champ still has never finished outside of the top 10 in a Semifinals event. Justin Medeiros finished Test 1 in 23:53, which locked him in sixth place heading into Test 2. This continues the consistency streak we’ve seen from Medeiros, which has allowed him to stay among the top in live competitions and always find a way to pull away with the win on the final day. 
  • Nobody panic…it’s only one test and Pat Vellner has been here before. Vellner had a rough start to the weekend, finishing 15th, which was his worst placement in a Semifinal competition. It’s also the first time he’s finished a Semifinal event outside the top 10. Vellner is no stranger to digging himself out of an early hole, having done it at the highest level in multiple CrossFit Games appearances. 

Test 2: Most of the gymnastics in this year’s individual Semifinal include new variations that are starting to become the norm in the Adrian Bozman era of programming. The ring complex paired with single-leg squats alternating legs every five reps are small nuances that add subtle execution demands in a familiar workout format. 

  • Colten Mertens originally beat the world record in Test 2 with 56 reps, besting Jeff Adler by 3 reps. Mertens had a slow start to the day, finishing Test 1 in 36th place and mentioned that he wasn’t feeling great and had a mild fever. Following the test he spoke with Niki Brazier and said: “I’ve got a hell of a fight ahead of me, but I’m here for it.” 
  • Scott Tetlow battled Patrick Vellner in the final heat, emptying the tank in the final interval and ended up taking the world record over Mertens heat five record by tie break. Tetlow finished 11th at the 2022 Syndicate Crown and 17th in the 2020 CrossFit Games. 
  • Patrick Vellner bounced back after his tough start, taking third place with 54 reps. 
  • Brent Fikowski closed out an impressive first day with a fifth place finish in Test 2. The juxtaposition of skill sets that Fikowski was able to display in just two tests demonstrates the breadth and depth of his fitness. The Professor heads into day two of competition in first place overall and has notoriously performed well in snatch events so expect to see big things from Fikowski in Tests 4 and 5. 
  • Justin Medeiros finished Test 2 in fifth place with 47 reps, edging out Chandler Smith by just 1 rep to finish in the top five. In classic Medeiros fashion, he found a way to get the extra critical rep that separated him from Chandler Smith, John Wood, Justin Rhodes and Mitchel Stevenson, who all finished the workout with 46 reps. 

Who is in qualifying position after Friday: 

  • 1st – Brent Fikowski
  • 2nd – Cole Greashaber 
  • 3rd – Mitchel Stevenson 
  • 4th – Justin Medeiros 
  • 5th – John Wood
  • 6h – Patrick Vellner 
  • 7th – Nick Mathew 
  • 8th – Samuel Kwant 
  • 9th – Chandler Smith 

The bottom line: We’re only 30 percent done with the tests this weekend, so the leaderboard is far from being set in stone. Saturday is “moving day” and the tests are wildly different from that of day one, so expect to see some shuffling in the top nine heading into Sunday.

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