Over the course of the past few years in the competitive landscape of CrossFit, or “functional fitness,” events we’ve gotten very used to the idea that every point matters. That was definitely the case in the Granite Games Open as the unofficial results are in and it came down to no more than five points separating several athletes around the cutoff for the 35 qualifying positions as the review process begins.
The last sanctioned event in North America before the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games will be a last-chance qualifier for plenty of athletes, but on the men’s side of the GG Open the field is led by someone who’s already sealed a spot after a couple years away from the grandest stage in the sport.
Jacob Heppner is making the most of his return year to the CrossFit Games as he leads the pack in the Granite Games Open in the same week he learned his spot in Madison is set with a third-place finish in the CrossFit Games Open.
How impressive has Heppner been this year? In the five-week CrossFit Open he started with a 137th in 19.1, then went on to reel off four consecutive top 20 finishes to close it out. In the Granite Games Open he was even more impressive with no finish outside of the top 10.
Not far behind Heppner was promising 19-year-old George Sterner; the civil engineering student was just three points away from matching the first-place Games veteran. Mitchel Stevenson rounds out the top three another 13 points back.
The provisional Granite Games field on the men’s side will see a plethora of experienced athletes, most notably 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games champion Ben Smith, who sits in 17th as the review process begins. This is a huge moment for Smith as he recovers from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus that he posted to social media about in January. Less than four months later and he knows he’s in for the Rogue Invitational and Granite Games.
Other notable athletes to make the provisional field include: Luke Schafer (4th), Saxon Panchik (6th), Dylan Martin (7th), Nick Bloch (12th), Drew Wayman (13th), week one leader Alexander Johnson (15th), Pete Shaw (21st), and Josiah Naig (29th).
Behind that group the race was razor-thin as just four points separated 34th from 37th. The narrow margin worked in the favor of Stephen Wallace and Gunnar Regan, who finish just ahead of Hunter Wood and Tyler Lloyd. For Wood and Lloyd it is now about waiting for a withdrawal or score adjustment; a not impossible outcome in online competition.
Four points on the men’s side was countered by five points separating the same gap on the women’s side. Khristin Allen and Paige Henry get the final two current spots into the Granite Games Championships by just a couple points over the first-out Tommie Deprima and Jessica Schwartz.
The tight finish in the back of the qualifying field was of no concern for unofficial Granite Games Open champion Taylor Williamson, who won events three and four and averaged a finish of fifth. The CrossFit OC3 athlete finished 11 points clear of second-place Andrea Knisler and 14 ahead of Emma Cary in third. A pair of first-time CrossFit Games qualifiers round out the top-five with Carrie Beamer in fourth and week one Granite Games Open leader Brooke Haas in fifth.
Familiar names are scattered all over the women’s field as Don’t Stop team athlete from 2018 Rachel Garibay takes sixth, Kendall Vincelette (who was 50th in the CrossFit Games Open) finished seventh, and unofficial Venezuelan CrossFit Open national champion Laura Gonzalez sits in 11th. A little farther in the field sits Chelsea Grigsby (18th) and Steph Chung (19th).
Outside looking in as the Granite Games Open hits the review period include possible CrossFit Games qualifier Taylor Streid (47th). Streid took ninth in Wodapalooza, but as of this writing seven of the eight women in front of her have qualified through the CrossFit Games Open. The one remaining athlete between Streid and a Games debut is Colleen Fotsch, who sits just one position away from being inside the qualifying cutoff through the CrossFit Open, which would then pass the Wodapalooza invite to Streid.
For 70 athletes the wait is now on to clear the review process and secure their qualifying position in the Granite Games. For several others the wait is now for the misfortune of others. Either way the field will be official soon, as the competition begins a month from now on May 30 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.