As Malachi Bennett made his way through the final reps of the 2017 MBS Turkey Challenge, there was a lack of drama that normally accompanies the final workout of a competition. Bennett had surged to such a commanding lead throughout the weekend - he could have sandbagged the final workout and still won.
Trailing him on the leaderboard was eventual 2018 Games athlete Jared Enderton, who would finish third behind CrossFit Decimate’s Brian Harris. Both names missing from this year’s pro field. While Bennett seeks to repeat as champion in this year’s expanded Turkey Challenge, it won’t come as easy as it did in 2018. Earlier this year, two athletes from Norman, Oklahoma’s KODA CrossFit, made the move to Colorado. With 10 Regional appearances between them, Kevin Schuetz and Casey McCallister are poised to take a crack at Bennett’s crown. Bennett topped off his 2017 title with his first regional trip, finishing 16th in a stacked West Coast division.
Schuetz, meanwhile, has six regional appearances to his credit, five of them as an individual qualifier. McCallister boasts another four trips to regionals, with two of those as an individual. Bennett finished the 2018 Open ranked 214th in the world. McCallister trailed Bennett at 560th worldwide, but Schuetz topped him at 166th in the world.
Without the appearance of these two athletes from Oklahoma, all eyes would have been on the head-to-head battle between former University of Wyoming football player and NorCo CrossFit (Now CrossFit 970) standout Cooper Wise. Wise made a regional run in 2017, finishing 13th in the South West, before making the move to Turkey Challenge host gym, MBS CrossFit in the Denver area. Wise and Bennett have never faced off head-to-head and despite the added names in this year’s field, Wise has a solid chance at battling for a podium spot.
While Harris and Enderton are absent from this year’s competition, Enderton citing a long layoff following his first appearance at The Games earlier this year - last year’s 4th place finisher is back. Westy Guill, Bennett’s former training partner, was battling an injury during last year’s event - and while he is not 100%, he says he is in much better shape for this year’s competition.
Guill is no longer training with Bennett and has spent most of his preparation in 2018 as a garage athlete. He says he feels great going into this year - and gave much of his rehab credit to 2018 Turkey Challenge and CrossFit Games sponsor, Pure Spectrum CBD, which he has been using extensively since being exposed to the products this summer.
Men’s Pro Podium
Podium Contenders: Wise, Guill, Upshaw, Jax
A newer face to the Colorado CrossFit scene, but a familiar one to fans, will also attempt to walk away from the Turkey Challenge with some hardware in the women’s Pro division - 5X Regional qualifier, 3X Games qualifier and 2X CrossFit Games Team Champ Kristin Reffett is back. Injuries and fatigue kept Reffett sidelined for the 2018 Games, but the athlete who helped Rich Froning win two affiliate titles at the Games, has to be looked at as a podium contender this weekend. Reffett will have to contend with CrossFit Evolve’s Stine Pinilla, who enters the Turkey Challenge after her second trip to Regionals as an individual this year. Pinilla will be challenged by returning champ Elisa Schauer. Schauer and Pinilla were razor close in the 2018 Open - with Pinilla holding a slight advantage, 524th in the world to 598th.
Women’s Pro Podium
Podium contenders: Van Dyne, Stone,
With a 60+ athlete roster for the Pros this year, as well as the expanded divisions we are seeing in 2018 - organizer and 6X Games athlete Pat Burke is working hard to show CrossFit that the Turkey Challenge has a foothold in the region, and would be a great addition to the list of qualifier events for the Games. A number of athletes referred to the event as “The New South Regional” because of all the changes with the formatting of the CrossFit Games. Looking at the field of competitors, it appears many in the region feel the same way. It remains to be seen if Pat Burke and the rest of those behind the Turkey Challenge, can expand the event, add an online qualifier and become a Granite Games or Wodapalooza type event.
Final Note from the Editor:
It is unfortunate that so many athletes in the Colorado area, choose to place a high level of importance on out-of-state competitions, when an event this size and with this quality of athletes, is taking place right in their backyard. For the Turkey Challenge to become a larger event on par with those I mentioned, the Denver CrossFit community and all those along the Front Range, needs to show their support in spades. We have an opportunity to put Denver on the map - to have an event like The Granite Games right here in Denver. Before you support others, support your own.