The 2017 MBS CrossFit Turkey Challenge takes place this weekend in Denver, Colorado. The annual event has quickly become Colorado’s premier proving ground for CrossFit athletes across the region – and the list of athletes competing this year shows that 2017 will be no different.
We start our preview with a look at the loaded men’s pro division. Last year’s winner, Backcountry CrossFit’s Dalton Spanbauer is one of the names absent from this year’s field, along with The 2016 CrossFit Open’s “fittest in Colorado” - Colorado Springs product Justin Jindra.
Those are about the only two names missing however – as the remaining list is a who’s who of Colorado and Wyoming CrossFit. Wyoming’s top two athletes in the 2017 Open, Caliber Fitness teammates Malachi Bennett and Westy Guill are both making their first appearances at the Turkey Challenge. Bennett is fresh off his podium finish in the pro division of the Granite Games, being bested only by two of the Panchik brothers. Two of Guill’s most recent events were both team/partner with Bennett – where they dominated the South Dakota Open, as well as a competition in Northern California last month.
Looking for a favorite in this field, one need look no further than last year’s podium. Weightlifter turned CrossFitter Jared Enderton, who took over as fittest in Colorado in 2017 – returns as our pick to win this year. He was number one in the state in the Open, and made his first trip to Regionals this year. The highlight of the weekend should be the 1rm snatch event. Enderton has routinely been snatching 300+ at his seminars this year.
Chasing him down will be this list of athletes, in no particular order, who we are picking as the contenders for the podium in 2017:
Justin Biays: Owner of Dark Horse Performance and Director of Training at CrossFit Barkada in Aurora, Biays missed the open this year with a back injury, but he is healthy and ready to compete this weekend. Biays broke the wild/STRONG Liftoff Snatch record earlier this fall – hitting a PR at 290#. This should allow him to place high in the 1rm snatch event – while, barring some sort of disaster, Enderton should win that event. Biays was in the top 35 in the state in the 2016 Open – and he remains one of the last individual athletes along the front range who has stood above Malachi Bennett on a podium in the last few years, beating him at the Alpine Legends competition a couple years ago. He also recently engaged is a heated social media feud with Westy Guill, which should provide some mild drama as the two compete in the same heat.
Dwight Upshaw: CrossFit Sanitas’ Upshaw actually topped Enderton last year, finishing second. The row, double-unders – run event should be an opportunity for him to make a statement. He rowed for the national powerhouse UC-Berkeley crew team for one year, before competing as a triathlete for the rest of his college career. He has run a marathon in just over two and a half hours. Yes, he is a CrossFit athlete with a 500+ deadlift AND can hold a 6 minute mile pace for 26 miles. He is our clear pick to dominate that event.
Kane Share: The CrossFit Harmonic coach went to Regionals in 2015, placing 30th in the South West. He fell off last year with a 62nd place finish in the region – but was 9th in Colorado. Share is the second highest finisher in Colorado in the field this year – behind Enderton. He will be a threat to take a coveted podium spot this weekend.
Malachi Bennett: The 5-time winner of the Wyoming Open Pro division is having his best year as a CrossFit competitor. As mentioned before, he took a podium finish at the Granite Games Pro division this year. Before you scoff at the Wyoming Open wins, during that time he has defeated multiple regional athletes and in 2015 dominated Games athlete Christian Lucero. If Colorado athletes are wondering if this guy is for real – he stomped the South West Region Open winner, Las Vegas’ Niklas Hecht, at the Granite Games this year. Malachi has never made it to Regionals, but time and time again has risen to the level of his competition.
Westy Guill: Bennett’s teammate at Caliber Fitness in Casper, Guill feeds off training alongside his long-time friend and teammate. The two came up together at cross-town rival CrossFit 307, and have now placed Caliber Fitness as the destination for competitive CrossFitters in Wyoming. The 307 castaways are now joined by the top Master’s athlete in Wyoming, former 307 coach Jonathan Varela – creating a formidable training environment and competition team that is unmatched in the Cowboy State. Guill whipped up on South Dakota’s best athletes at the SD Open with Bennett and seems to have almost fully recovered from a knee injury that plagued him last year.
Jeff Schuette: A member of CrossFit Omnia’s Games Team, Schuette is a household name in Colorado Crossfit circles. If you need proof that Schuette, who finished 17th in Colorado in the Open, is a threat to Enderton, look no further than the Battle for Mile High, which took place this summer. Enderton finished third, behind Schuette who took second. The winner of that competition?....
Caleb Sommer: The Project Rise athlete has bounced around in the Denver Crossfit scene – but the one thing that remains consistent? His ability to win. He was a member of Front Range CrossFit’s Games team in 2012. He went to regionals the following year with Front Range in 2013. He then went to the Games again in 2015 as a member of Backcountry’s team. Sommer is a clear threat to Enderton this year.
The 2017 MBS CrossFit Turkey Challenge takes place November 18-19th at MBS CrossFit in Denver, Colorado.
Coming up later this week, we will preview the women’s pro division, where a list of heavy hitters looks to take the podium.