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Mal O’Brien Dominates Field at Granite Games

Morning Chalk Up

June 6   |   POWERED BY

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Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Week two of the semifinals are in the books as the Far East Throwdown and the Granite Games have both wrapped, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

  • Mal O’Brien, Brent Fikowski and CrossFit Invictus have taken the Granite Games
  • Where would Roman Khrennikov stack up in other semifinals?
  • Mat Fraser talks coaching Mal O’Brien during Granite Games
  • Rookie Alex Gazan has punched her ticket to the CrossFit Games
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“Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.” - Mark Twain


The third week of semifinals for the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games is in the books, as the Granite Games and Far East Throwdown are all over. Here’s who qualified, and who is also now in for the Last Chance Qualifier:

Granite Games

  1. Brent Fikowski | Mallory O’Brien | CrossFit Invictus
  2. Phil Toon | Amanda Barnhart | CrossFit OBA
  3. Travis Mayer | Dani Speegle | CrossFit Move Heavy Lift Fast
  4. Samuel Kwant | Alex Gazan | CrossFit Greater Heights Ascend
  5. Colten Mertens | Emily Rolfe | Rhapsody CrossFit

Far East Throwdown

  1. Roman Khrennikov | Seungyeon Choi | KT Kolesnikov Team
  2. Nasser Alruwayeh | Seher Kaya | CrossFit YAS Black

Last Chance Qualifier

  1. Artur Semenov | Dawon Jung
  2. Andrey Fedotov | Dema Zebdieh
  3. Ant Haynes | Yuko Sakuyama
  4. Nick Mathew | Kloie Wilson
  5. Matt Dlugos | Fee Saghafi
  6. Timothy Paulson | Kelly Stone

Below are a few key articles from our Sunday coverage. For a full list of stories from the entire weekend, go to, or check out some of our interviews with the winners on our YouTube page.

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In case you missed it: Lauren Kalil, the host of The Bottom Line, was busy again this weekend, interviewing a number of winners at the Granite Games including Mal O’BrienPhil Toon and Alex Gazan. Oh, and she also recapped the whole semifinal with Brian Friend and Jake Marconi.

Come work with us: We’re looking for a full-time, fully remote Copywriter and Account Executive to join our growing Partnerships team. If you love CrossFit, the Morning Chalk Up, and want to make an impact in our community apply now. Applications close today.

Onto the podium: The always lovable Kelsey Kiel has joined the Podium team. Check out our video interview with her where she discussed her jaunt into bobsledding for the American team. 🇺🇸

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  CrossFit Invictus and Mal O’Brien Shine, Brent Fikowski Climbs While Colten Mertens and Emily Rolfe Survive at Epic Granite Games  

CrossFit Invictus and Mal O’Brien Shine, Brent Fikowski Climbs While Colten Mertens and Emily Rolfe Survive at Epic Granite Games

It was a story of two groups of three in the Granite Games women’s field. At the top of the leaderboard Games veterans Mal O’Brien, Amanda Barnhart, and Dani Speegle were the class of the field all weekend. They combined for five event wins and only had one finish outside the top eight all weekend.

  • O’Brien’s 576 out of 600 possible points is the type of dominance we are looking for when it comes to an athlete who can challenge for a podium finish at the Games.
  • Barnhart was very quiet this weekend, but much like fellow Comptrain athlete Cole Sager last week at the MACC, was never in jeopardy of missing out on making her fifth consecutive Games.
  • For Speegle, this one has to feel good. A lot of people were questioning her ability to contend in a tough women’s field with two long and brutal workouts over the course of the weekend. Well, she put those doubts to rest with extremely impressive finishes of fifth and twelfth on those to her fourth straight ticket to Madison.
Continue Reading...
  Roman Khrennikov Was Scary Good at the Far East Throwdown, But Where Would He Have Stacked Up at Other 2022 Semifinals?  


Roman Khrennikov Was Scary Good at the Far East Throwdown, But Where Would He Have Stacked Up at Other 2022 Semifinals?

If there is one person you ask who is excited to go to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games, it’s Russian Roman Khrennikov, but you will probably have to ask him through a translator.

The 27-year-old finished first at the Far East Throwdown this past weekend in South Korea, punching his ticket to the Games, and this time, he has the visa to boot.

On the first day of competition at the Far East Throwdown, Khrennikov kicked off the competition with a first place win in Crossing the Gwang-An Bridge, which is 3 Rounds for time: 18 calorie row, nine Muscle-ups and 12 Hang Snatch 135lbs. In event two, the Barbell complex, he finished tied for first with Kuwait’s Nasser Alruwayeh to finish out the day.

Continue Reading...
  Roman Khrennikov Was Scary Good at the Far East Throwdown, But Where Would He Have Stacked Up at Other 2022 Semifinals?  

VIDEO: “She wanted to let it rip and see what she could do and I’m telling her to slow down.”

Watch Now...
  Rookie Alex Gazan and Emily Rolfe Squeak into the Top 5 at Granite Games  

Rookie Alex Gazan and Emily Rolfe Squeak into the Top 5 at Granite Games

While Mal O’Brien, Amanda Barnhart and Dani Speegle sat solidly as the top three athletes pretty much all weekend at the Granite Games in Eagan, MN, such was not the case for 20-year-old Alex Gazan, and two-time Games veteran Emily Rolfe.

Both women needed big performances on the final event of the day—10 legless rope climbs—and ultimately both did just what they needed to do to get into the top five and earn their tickets to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games.

The details: Rolfe and Gazan both hovered in and around the top five most of the weekend and entered the final event in fifth and sixth respectively.

  • Gazan came out hot and stayed hot through her 10 legless rope climbs, finishing in 3:55.94, good enough for an event win and fourth overall.
  • I knew if I executed I could do well, but you can’t control your competitors, so it was just stay in my own lane and see what happens,” said Gazan, who has been training in Las Vegas, NV with Underdogs Athletics coach Justin Cotler this season.
  • It’s kind of surreal…It takes a minute to sink in but I’m so excited,” she added in a post-event interview.
  • As for Rolfe, she told the Morning Chalk after Event 5 that she had practiced the legless rope climb event a lot in recent weeks and her mindset was simply to “just put everything into it.”
  • She did just that, and ultimately did what Rolfe had been doing all weekend—top five finishes—finishing fourth and doing just enough to bump Kloie Wilson out.

The big picture: The race for fourth and fifth was arguably the most exciting storyline of the women’s competition on Sunday, but the bigger story is most certainly how easily 18-year-old O’Brien dominated the competition from start to finish, a weekend that included four event wins, making it difficult not to pose the question: Can O’Brien, possibly, maybe, if the stars are aligned, take down Tia-Clair Toomey in Madison?



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Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a highlight.

  • 🎂 Happy birthday, James HobartAndrew Weinstein (Friday), Shai Douty (Saturday), and Leahy Douty (Saturday).
  • 🍼 Congratulations to Hayley and Joshua Murillo on baby Murillo coming in November 2022.
  • Congratulations Vadim Kozevnikov from Sarasota, FL on the post-surgery 413 pound/188kg snatch balance PR.
  • Just… wow. This Spartan racer takes on two-handed monkey bars like a boss.
  • Craig Richey of HSTL Made hits a 319 pound/145kg snatch.
  • Dani Speegle recorded a score of 245 pounds/111kg in the CrossFit Barbell Complex this weekend at the Granite Games— which ties the overall top score in Semifinals this far.
3/1 - 3/31: Sit Ups For Pups (Everywhere, Anywhere Online)
3/2: The LKW Games (Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina)
3/9: The Valkyrie Fitness Competition (Tampa, FL)
3/16: Upper Hunter Strongest Novice (Muswellbrook, Australia)
3/16: Oceanside CrossFit 1st Annual Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (oceanside, ca)
3/23 - 3/24: Beach Brawl (Spring) (Pensacola Beach, FL)
3/23: Masters Distinguished Games (Fort Wright, KY)
3/23: CFL Teen Take Over (Lorton, VA)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Ohio (Lancaster, Ohio)
4/6 - 4/7: SeaDog Summer Showdown (Jupiter, Florida)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Minnesota (Austin, Minnesota)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Kentucky (Richmond, Kentucky)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, Alabama)
4/6: Best Babes 608 (Janesville, Wisconsin)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beufort, South Carolina)
4/6: Best Babes Houston (Houston, Texas)
4/6: Best Babes Wyoming (Cheyene, Wyoming)
4/6: War Off I-4 (Deland, FL)
4/6 - 4/7: No Pain No Game (Legnano, Italy)
4/6 - 4/7: Shack Team Edition (Rome, Italy)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beaufort, SC)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, AL)
4/6 - 4/7: Landifornian Battle (Seignosse, France)
4/6: Two Peas in a Pod: Mixed Gender Partner Comp (Burlington, MA)
4/6: Best Babes Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
4/13: Queens of Oly Rockledge (Rockledge, FL)
4/13: Queens of Oly East Tennessee (Bulls Gap, TN)
4/13: Fittest on Main (Boaz, AL)
4/19 - 4/21: Crash Crescendo (Spartanburg, SC)
4/20: Barbells For Bullies: Community Workout Savannah (Savnnah, Georgia, US)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Plattsburgh (Plattsburgh, NY)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Masiphumelele (Kommetjie, Cape Town, South Africa)
4/20: Festivus Games (Goderich, Canada)
4/20: Festivus Games (Clermont, FL)
4/20: Festivus Games @ The Gym – CrossFit Kilo (Cedar Falls, IA)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CBM Sirens (Caledonia, MS)
4/20: Festivus Games @ Coyote Valley (San Jose, CA)
4/20 - 4/21: Okanagan Valley Throwdown (Penticton, British Columbia)
4/20: The Fittest 4 (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
4/20: Embrace the Challenge (Mentor, Ohio)
4/20: Festivus Games @ CrossFit Pagosa (Pagosa Springs, CO)
4/20: First EVER Adaptive Festivus Games Competition (Waterford, United States)
4/20: Festivus Games (WAUKESHA, WI)
4/20 - 4/21: BGR Contest Spring Edition (Bergerac, France)
4/20 - 4/21: Okanagan Valley Throwdown (Penticton, British Columbia, Canada)

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