2023 NorCal Classic: Results and Analysis

September 11, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Adrian Najera | @rep_photo_
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Although this weekend’s NorCal Classic has already come and gone, there is still plenty to discuss about the event.

Below we will review the results from the Elite division as well as take a look at some of the event’s most interesting tests.

With ten tests completed over three days of competition, the NorCal Classic also happened to be one of the season’s most volume-heavy competitions, testing the athletes in a sort of mini CrossFit Games.

Before we dive more into the tests however, let’s begin with the Elite results:

Men’s and Women’s Podium

  1. Sean Sweeney (51) | Brittany Wiess (56)
  2. Tim Paulson (71) | Lauren Fisher (70)
  3. Malachi Bennett (76) | Elizabeth Wishart (71)

Men Results Review

With no finishes outside of the top ten and starting the competition off with two straight second place finishes, Sean Sweeney was in firm control of the men’s division throughout the entire weekend.

He got to show his prowess in the water, finishing in the top three in each of the three total water events, while avoiding mistakes in all other tests.

The other two men on the podium flip-flopped their positions multiple times as Tim Paulson had a relatively bad start to the weekend with two finishes in tenth or worse while Malachi Bennett had three straight finishes in sixth or better.

Paulson had one more bad finish (22nd), but then went on a hot streak, closing out the competition with four straight top-three finishes, while Bennett gave up his lead after finishing worse than 12th in three of the next six tests.

Fun Fact: All three of the men on the podium are 30 years old or older (Sweeney: 31, Paulson: 33, Bennett: 31).

Women Results Review

Unlike the men’s side, the women’s Elite division was a lot more volatile. All three women on the podium had their share of bad tests, which kept the door open for the other two to stay close.

For example, the overall winner Brittany Weiss from Invictus had three of nine test finishes outside of tenth place, but her five top-three finishes were able to keep her in the lead.

Initially third place finisher, Elizabeth Wishart, was in the lead after finishing first and second in the competition’s first two tests, but unfortunately gave up a lot of ground on Day 2 when she finished 28th in “Daybreak Paddle”.

Interestingly enough, second-place finisher Lauren Fisher had the most consistent competition of all three athletes, but with only two finishes inside the top three, it wasn’t enough to overtake Weiss for the win, and was just barely enough to hold off Wishart.

Programming Thoughts

When we first saw the full test schedule it immediately reminded us of this year’s CrossFit Games in the way that it seemed to be testing for the “best overall athlete,” not necessarily just the “best crossfit athlete.”

Just as we saw at the CrossFit Games, only two tests at the NorCal Classic included a barbell and one of them was a max snatch.

Other than that the competition had three tests in the water and two track events (max broad jump, 800m sprint).

The programming was great, but it makes one think about how elite CrossFit athletes should actually be training. 

Three specific questions arose for us, based on this recent programming trend:

  • Besides training for one-rep-max lifts, should sandbag training and other odd-objects now take priority over barbell training?
  • Is high level aerobic capacity (i.e. long endurance chippers) as important as it used to be? Or should athletes focus on explosive power (i.e. anaerobic short bursts) and steady-state monostructural endurance (i.e. 5K runs, long bike tests, longer swims and paddling)?
  • As an athlete, should you double down on your strengths or focus on improving your weaknesses?

It seems that the trend is shifting in a way that is forcing athletes to spend more training time outside of the gym rather than inside. 

Running, swimming, biking, paddling and traditional explosive tests (i.e. broad jump, vertical jump, etc.) may now be much more important than barbell cycling and burpee speed.

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