After what can only be described as an exciting battle, the winners of one of the biggest Sanctionals of the CrossFit competitive season have been set.
Both individual champions defended their titles, but the victories didn’t come without a fight.
Tia Toomey, Pat Vellner and Mayhem Freedom were crowned champions in Miami, yet most of this wasn’t decided until the very last seconds of the last event.
Mayhem Freedom won by the smallest margin, beating Team GOWOD by only two points in what was an exhilarating final.
The leaderboard was even more thrilling on the Elite Men’s side; Pat Vellner pulled out a strong finish on the last event, securing so just enough points to draw with Cole Sager, both stacking 714 points by the end of the competition.
Ultimately, it’d be Vellner taking the tiebreak with three event wins.
CrossFit Games invites went to 10th placed Emily Rolfe and 4th placed Saxon Panchik. The team invite will potentially go to Mayhem Independence – more on that below.
Wodapalooza ran from February 20 to 23 and saw a stacked field of athletes compete in nine testing events. With big money and a 2020 CrossFit Games invite on offer, the entire competition was filled with suspense and excitement across all elite (and all other) divisions.
Competitors were faced with intense heat and heavy rain, yet the atmosphere was vibrant throughout. We have a full recap of all the action below.
A draw for first place marked the end of day one at Wodapalooza for the Elite Women, with Tia-Clair Toomey and Sara Sigmundsdottir both winning an event and placing third on the other. If spectators were hoping for a race between these two phenomenal athletes, they sure got it on day one.
Tia Toomey and Sara Sigmundsdottir Level After Wodapalooza Day One
The two athletes alternated between first and second on the leaderboard throughout the competition, with Sara taking the lead on the second day of competition and Tia regaining in on the third.
Coming into the last day of competition, it seemed like Sara had a good shot at dethroning Tia for the Sanctional’s title.
In the end, Tia closed off the competition with two back to back event wins, taking four event wins overall and finishing eight of the nine events in the top 5. Her only event outside the top five was the “Pace Race”, a 12:00 Max Distance Pace Boat Test, where she finished 11th.
This was a very interesting event, where athletes raced a computer-generated pace boat on the rowing machine’s screen. Athletes were knocked out if they were caught by the boat, which slowly increased its speed in the 12 minutes of the workout.
As for the CrossFit Games invite, it was a fight between Canadian Emily Rolfe and US athlete Colleen Fotsch, both of whom finished 10th and 11th respectively yet were the highest ranked athletes without a Games spot already secured.
Four points separated the two athletes in the end.
The invitation would be decided on the last event, where Rolfe beat Fotsch by one spot, gaining so enough points to climb up the leaderboard and be the highest ranked individual without a Games invite. Rolfe accumulated 530 points while Fotsch took 526 by the end of the weekend.
Dani Speegle, Danielle Brandon, Savannah Carver and Meg Reardon all withdrew prior to the competition.
Final Wodapalooza women’s leaderboard
- Tia-Clair Toomey (808)
- Sara Sigmundsdottir (770)
- Kari Pearce (724)
- Amanda Barnhart (696)
- Haley Adams (630)
Up until the last event, it seemed like it’d be Cole Sager who would win the Sanctional and take the title from Vellner. It was consistency, rather than event wins, what set the males on top of the leaderboard early on.
Going into the final day of competition, Sager seemed to have the victory secured, yet “Down-Up”, a 12-9-6-9-12 workout for time featuring deadlifts at 335lb and bar facing burpees didn’t play to his strengths and Sager logged his worse finish of the weekend at 19th (his only one outside the top 10).
It’d be Vellner who took the event win, a full 30 seconds ahead of second-place Noah Ohlsen. With one event to go, six points separated Vellner and Sager, with the second still sitting atop the leaderboard.
“Celebrate Life”, the closing event of Wodapalooza, was a chipper of:
- 50 Wall Ball (30lb) (10ft)
- 40 Cal Ski
- 30 DB Snatch (70lb)
- 20 Box Jump Over (36″)
- 15 Bar Muscle Ups
The two athletes contesting for first place got to the pull-up bar for the muscle ups at the same time, having pretty much gone rep for rep throughout the workout.
Vellner beat Sager by seven seconds and tied the American athlete with 714 points. With three event wins against none, Vellner won the tiebreak and with it defended his Wodapalooza title.
This is the first time a since the introduction of Sanctionals there was a tie at the top of the podium.
Saxon Panchik was the highest ranked male athlete without a Games invite secured. The 2019 9th Fittest Man on Earth climbed above Travis Williams on the final event to get the invite. Williams had held the lead of the entire competition on days one and two, before losing it to Sager and Vellner on day three.
Beating Williams by six spots on the final event gave Saxon Panchik enough points to climb above him on the leaderboard, securing his return to the Games by 12 points. Williams is already heading to the CrossFit Games with CrossFit OC3.
Ben Smith, Fabian Beneito Selles, Willy Georges and Zack George all withdrew from competition prior to the first event.
Final Wodapalooza men’s leaderboard
- Patrick Vellner (714)
- Cole Sager (714)
- Noah Ohlsen (666)
- Saxon Panchik (632)
- Travis Williams (620)
Mayhem Freedom held of WIT by milliseconds on the last event, Celebrate Life, to hold on to the overall lead by the smallest of margins: two points.
Wile Mayhem Freedom ultimately took the win, they were challenged all weekend by Team GOWOD, from start to finish.
It was an exhilarating final. Mayhem Freedom went into the final event with an eight-point lead over GOWOD. Yet team GOWOD dominated the event, finishing in an astounding 11:03:04.
In the meantime, Mayhem Freedom and Team WIT were going rep for rep. A second-place finish in that last event for Mayhem Freedom would mean a Sanctional victory. A third-place finish would have given the lead to Team GOWOD and with it the Sanctional’s title.
With a Sanctional win at stake, both Mayhem Freedom and Team WIT finished the workout at the same time and darted to the finish line. Mayhem Freedom hit their buzzer 0.17 seconds ahead of WIT, at 11:13:90, securing so just enough points to win the competition.
This is Mayhem Freedom’s second Sanctional win of the season, having earnt the top sport at London’s Strength in Depth, securing there their Games invite.
Final elite teams leaderboard
- Mayhem Freedom (753)
- Team GOWOD (751)
- Team WIT (697)
- Mayhem Independence (597)
- Team Victory Grips (582)
Have a look at the full leaderboard for all divisions here.
As for the team CrossFit Games invite, the set is complicated.
According to the rulebook:
- “The top team from Sanctionals events (from the elite or Rx’d division equivalent) may receive an invitation to compete at the Games.”
- “CrossFit, Inc. reserves the right to pass the invitation to the Games to the second-place team if the winning team of a Sanctionals competition already received an invitation to the Games from a previous Sanctionals competition.”
As mentioned before, Mayhem Freedom already earnt an invitation to the CrossFit Games through Strength in Depth, which means the Games spot isn’t automatically backfilled to the second-place team.
There are more layers to this.
Should CrossFit Inc. decide to pass the invitation on, it could not go to Wodapalooza’s second-place team.
When teams confirm their rosters for the CrossFit Games they can’t be changed, and teams can only choose from those athletes to field a team at the Games.
If an athlete’s name is already on a roster, they’re not allowed to compete for a different team at the Games. If they compete on a different team prior to the Games, the athlete’s new team will not be eligible to receive an invitation to the Games.
GOWOD team members Taylor Williamson and Andrea Nisler have already accepted their invite to the 2020 Games with CrossFit OC3. The team, MisFit M10 Performance, won the Dubai CrossFit Championship in December.
Their new Wodapalooza team, comprising of Luke Schafer and Streat Hoerner, is not eligible to receive an invitation to the Games.
So maybe, if the invitation was to be backfilled, it could go to third-placed team, Team WIT?
No. Team WIT was comprised by Sam Briggs, Harriet Roberts, Michael Smith and Joshua Al-Chamaa. Teams competing at the Games are only allowed two alternates in their roster, one male and one female.
Section 4.05 of the Rulebook:
“A Games team roster will consist of six members: the four athletes who competed at the Sanctionals competition on the same team, plus two alternates (one woman and one man).”
Both female athletes of Team WIT have already accepted their individual invites, Briggs at Dubai and Roberts at the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge.
Which would leave the team a woman short for the Games, meaning Team WIT is not eligible to compete as a team with their Wodapalooza roster at the Games.
Should the backfilling continue, team Mayhem Independence, formed by Chase Hill, Royce Dunne, Kristin Miller and Feeroozeh Saghafi, would earn the 2020 CrossFit Games invite from Wodapalooza.
Invitations are sent to the winning teams ” Shortly after a team wins a Sanctionals competition” according to section 4.05 of the Rulebook. We’ll keep you posted on HQ’s decision regarding the Wodapalooza team invite when it becomes public.
- wodapalloza-recap: Image courtesy of Wodapalooza