Yesterday we took a look at the Wyoming Open's Pro Division, as Malachi Bennett looks for his 4th straight win in Cheyenne. Today we preview the men's Open Division. It will be a completely new-look this year - and the youngsters and even teens leading the way. With 8 of last year's top ten finishers not returning, a new look podium is a certainty.
Last year's open division was a two-horse race between XS CrossFit's Ethan Oberst and CrossFit Frontier's Anthony Finch. Finch faltered on the last event before the final, falling down on the last leg of the sled-push/sprint. His dominating performance in the final wasn't enough and Oberst's consistency throughout the weekend, highlighted by a win in the snatch 1rm, netted him a two point win over Finch.
Finch is not returning this year and because of his win, Oberst moves over to the pro division. The top 6 finishers in 2016 are absent from this year's field. The top returning finisher from last year is 17 year old Isaac Gaddis from Casper's CrossFit 307. Also back this year is 9th place finisher Luke Bechtle from CrossFit Cheyenne. That's it from the top ten.
The newcomers who look like the early favorites to take the podium in 2016 are all from Northern Colorado. Garrett Villella appears on paper to be the odds on favorite to stand on top of the podium. The 21 year old from WILD Horizon's CrossFit in Fort Collins, finished 430th in the Southwest Region in this year's Open. Coached by multiple-time regional competitor Ryan Garcia, Villella's only weakness going into this weekend are his Olympic lifts for Event 2. He has a listed snatch of 155 and a listed clean and jerk at 225.
Also in the conversation for favorite is Eric Black. The 23 year old trains at Backcountry CrossFit. He finished 615 in the Southwest Region, but with event 2's 1rm event looming, his listed snatch and clean and jerk at 205-265 respectively, could move him past Villella.
Ian Day from CrossFit Park Hill also looks like a strong performer with a chance to podium. His 712 finish in the Southwest Region and listed Olympic total of 455 could put the 24 year old in the battle with Villella and Black this weekend.
A fun battle to watch will be Norco CrossFit's Logan Ewing and CrossFit Frontier's Jaden Bickell. These two athletes are just 15 years old. Ewing missed going to the Games this year by only a handful of spots, finishing 14th in the world. Bickell was 83rd in the world. Ewing won his region in the boys 14-15 division and Bickell was 4th in his region.
Ewing's strength numbers stand out as the biggest difference between the two - and with the other events listed for the competition this year - could put him in the mix for a good finish. He has a listed snatch at 165 and a clean and jerk at 230. He is coming off surgery for a fractured elbow - and told me he anticipates being able to hit 160 and 210 on Saturday.
Bickell's strength is his running and overall motor. Ewing also says running is a big plus for him. This should be a fun battle to watch on the sandbag/sprint event 3 Saturday afternoon.
The Wyoming Open - powered by CrossFit Frontier, takes place August 6-7 at Okie Blanchard Stadium in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Tomorrow we will preview the women's open division.