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Top CrossFit Masters Athletes to Watch at Wodapalooza

Wodapalooza, arguably one of the most exciting Sanctionals for Master Athletes, returns to Miami with an impressive line-up in the Masters categories, including CrossFit Legend Valerie Vobril.

Three of the 2019 CrossFit Games age group champions are also competing alongside numerous multiple-times Games athletes spread across all age groups.

Wodapalooza is one of the world’s largest functional fitness festivals with multiple events and categories running across four days of competition, from February 20 to 23 in Miami. FloElite has a live stream available and covers all the action of the weekend.


It has always been popular amongst Masters Athletes from the States and around the world, attracting a top line-up every year. 2020 is no exception, especially with Wodapalooza opening up extra numbers of athletes competing in each category and also adding in a 60+ age group.

$1000 prize money is up for grabs for each masters athlete in the top spot and they will throw down alongside the open age athletes. Some young names this year include Tia Toomey, Brooke Wells, Kari Pearce, and Sarah Sigmundsdottir on the ladies side, and Ben Smith, Cole Sagar, Noah Olsen and Jonne Koski on the men’s side.


Valerie is one of the most successful female athletes in the history of competitive CrossFit. She has an impressive career with six CrossFit Games appearances, where she placed in the top 5 on four occasions, and also stood on the podium twice.

Her last major competition was the 2017 CrossFit Games and since then she has only competed at the odd local competition for fun.


Valerie is a full time teacher and a mother, and now joins the 40-44 year old masters age group at Wodapalooza.

“I am using Wodapalooza to dip my toe in and see if my head and heart are still ‘in it,’ she said about her decision to compete at the Sanctional this year. “I am competitive by nature, yet being a competitive competitor requires ‘next level’ commitment and the mindset as sharp as a steal bear trap.”

“I can’t wait to participate in the world’s largest fitness festival,” she added.

It will be interesting to see whether Valerie finds her competition “mojo” or not at Wodapalooza, as she finished 5th in the 40-44 age group in the CrossFit Games 2020 worldwide Open. Follow Valerie’s performance live at FloElite this weekend.

This makes her eligible to take part in the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) starting March 12th 2020 to secure a spot to the CrossFit Games. The top 10 masters in each age group from the  AGOQ are sent an invitation.


The are three 2019 CrossFit Games Champions competing at Wodapalooza:

  • Jason Grubb (40-44 age group)
  • Joel Hughes (45-49 age group)
  • Kevin Koester (50-54 age group)

Kevin Koester’s posted recently on Instagram that he injured his thumb Skiing and subsequently ruptured a tendon and will have surgery immediately after Wodapalooza. However, he hopes he will be fine to compete.


Men 35-39

  • Ryan Elrod – finished 2nd in the qualifier and is a multiple times CrossFit Regionals Athlete.
  • Joel Bran – qualified in 4th place and a 2018 Games athlete, where he placed 11th.

Women 35-39

  • Janine Shillington – probably the favourite in this age group. She is from Canada and won the online qualifier. She also competed in the 2018 CrossFit Games in the same age group.

Men 40-44

  • Jason Grubb – 2019 CrossFit Games Champion.
  • Tony Kurtz – placed 8th at the 2019 CrossFit Games. Tony has had a good start to the year by winning this masters division at the sanctional ‘Strength in Depth’ a few weeks ago.
  • Brian Kunitzer – qualified in 2nd position. Brian is a previous regionals athlete and it is his first year competing in this age group.
  • David Johnston – qualified in 3rd position. David placed 3rd at the 2018 CrossFit Games in the 40-44 age division.


Women 40-44

  • Valerie Vobril – for all the reasons mentioned above.
  • Deanna Posey, Melissa Willstrom, and Jenna Larson – all three ladies competed at the 2019 CrossFit Games in the 40-44 age group.
  • April Lowe and Ali Crawford – both have CrossFit Games experience at the 2015/ 2016, and 2018 respectively. These ladies add great depth to a highly competitive age group.

Men 45-44

  • Nikolaos Harbilas – qualified in 2nd place behind Joel Hughes. Nikolaos competed at the 2017 CrossFit Games in the 45-49 age group.
  • Jeffrey Prejean – qualified in 3rd place and is a three times CrossFit Games athlete. Jeffrey has just “up aged” this year into the 45-49’s.

Women 45-49

  • Tracy O’Connell, Aida Koepplinger and Jen Dieter – all multiple -times Games athletes, with all having competed at the 2019 CrossFit Games. All three of these ladies are highly experienced and fierce competitors.
  • Lynn Cassotis – competed at the 2017 CrossFit Games, adding to the athletes to watch in this age group.

Men 50-54

  • Kevin Koester – 2019 CrossFit Games Champion
  • Gregg Geerdes – won the online qualifier in this age group and also placed 2nd at the 2019 CrossFit Games behind fellow Wodapalooza competitor Kevin Koester.
  • Dion Warmsley – the Australian athlete isa previous Games athlete, having competed in 2018 where he placed 5th.
  • Dean Banks – another CrossFit Games athlete from 2016.
  • Simon Wilson Storey – from the UK, Simon just won this age division at Strength in Depth in London a few weeks ago. He is new to this age group and so far has had a good start to the season.

Women 50-54

  • Zoe Stewart – from the UK, Zoe is definitely worth keeping an eye on. She is new to this age group and won the online qualifier for Wodapalooza with three 1st place finishes and two 2nd place finishes. She also won the CrossFit Games Open worldwide in this age group.

Men 55-59

  • Pierre Cleroux – from Canada, Pierre won the online qualifier for Wodapalooza, with Eric Cohan qualifying in 2nd place.
  • Stewart Swanson – also competing, Stewart placed 2nd last year at Wodapalooza and also competed at the 2019 CrossFit Games (placing 7th).

Women 55-59

  • Linda Elston, Stacey Hastings and April Watkins all sat on top of the online qualifier leaderboard.
  • April Watkins – a two-time CrossFit Games athlete, April placed 3rd in 2019.

Men 60+

  • Tim Vivian – from CrossFit Mayhem, Tim won the online qualifier. He has previously been to the Games twice (2015 and 2016) and has just up-aged into this category.
  • Cal Cherrington – only 1 point behind Tim in the online qualifier, Cal also competed at the Games in 2017 and 2018, where he placed 3rd. There should be a good battle between these two gentlemen!

Women 60+

  • Patricia McGill – she has to be one of the favourites to win this age group. She placed 2nd at the 2019 CrossFit Games and placed first in the Wodapalooza online qualifier with four first place finishes.

If you want to see all these amazing athletes live during this years’ WZA, check out the live stream from FloElite.

Interested in CrossFit Masters Stories?

Helen Harding is the founder of The Masters Movement, a group set up to connect masters athletes around the world and sharing stories and masters-related information. She’s also a two-times CrossFit Games Champion (2016/2017) in the 40-44 age group and a four-times Pacific Regionals Athlete.

Professionally, Helen is a Physiotherapist with over 20 years clinical experience and has a special interest in exercise rehabilitation and health.

Follow her work @themastersmovement.

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