The inaugural Age-Group Semifinals were held this year during the second and third weeks of the reformatted four-week Semifinal season structure. New this season, athletes had to declare their route for Games qualification at this Semifinal stage (individual, team, or age group). Gone are the days of using an age-group qualifying spot as a backup for those with individual or team Games aspirations.
With the inclusion of the Semifinals for age groups, the former Age-Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) was replaced with two stages: the Age-Group Quarterfinals (AGQ), which mirrored the individual and team Quarterfinals, and the Age-Group Semifinals. The 2022 AGQ resembled its predecessor, the AGOQ, in number of participants and workouts. But in the AGQ, the pressure was on: Similar to the individual competition, just the top 30 athletes advanced to the Semifinals. Below is a table that breaks down the numbers and highlights standout accomplishments from the AGQ and Age-Group Semifinal season.
AGQ Participation Rates: Historically, 80% of eligible masters and 83% of eligible teenagers qualifying out of the Open went on to participate in the AGOQ (back when there were just 200 eligible athletes for each division). This season, the rates were 51% for masters and 80% for teenagers who competed in the AGQ. Last year’s participation rates were 61% and 81%, respectively, for the AGOQ. The rates varied across the age divisions due to the number of eligible masters from the top 10% who advanced from the Open. The teenagers’ rates remained the same, which is unsurprising given that the number of athletes eligible for the AGQ — 200 — remained the same as in all previous AGOQs (with the exception of 2021, when the cutoff was the top 10% of athletes after the Open). However, given greater Open participation overall this year, a record 8,062 age-group athletes competed in the 2022 AGQ, up from the 7,414 who competed in the AGOQ last year.
Outstanding Age-Group Performances in the Semifinals: A total of 17 age-group athletes scored 500 points or more out of a possible 600 in the Semifinals. Among the most notable:
- Olivia Kerstetter (16-17), 568 points
- Tea Gebbie (50-54), 560 points
- Lucy McGonigle (14-15), 548 points
- Pia Gund (65+), 536 points
- Vlad Liashkevich (45-49), 532 points
- RJ Mestre (14-15) 532 points
- Cheryl Brost (50-54), 528 points
- Joanne McCullough (55-59), 528 points
- Shelly Chapple (60-64), 524 points
- Sam Dancer (35-39), 524 points
Additionally, Kerstetter, Mestre, Gebbie, McCullough, Michelle Suozzi (45-49), and Michael Bridges (65+) all won three of the six workouts in their divisions.
RJ Mestre at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Meg Ellery
Age-Group Games Champions Returning to the CrossFit Games in 2022
- Four-time masters champion Will Powell (60-64). Powell will have the chance to tie Susan Clarke for the most age-group championships at five.
- Three-time masters champion Mary Beth Prodromides (60-64). Prodromides will have the chance to become the second masters athlete to win a championship in three different age divisions. Powell was the first to do so in 2021.
- Two-time masters champion Cheryl Brost (50-54)
- Two-time masters champion Laurie Meschishnick (55-59)
- Two-time masters champion Jason Grubb (45-49)
- One-time masters champion Kelly Friel (40-44)
- One-time masters champion Patty Bauer (65+)
- One-time masters champion Shannon Aiken (60-64)
- One-time masters champion Ken Ogden (65+)
- One-time teenager champion Olivia Kerstetter (16-17)
- One-time teenager champion Ty Jenkins (16-17)
Kelly Friel at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Charlotte Foerschler
Returning Age-Group Multi-podium Athletes
Six masters podium finishes (most of all time):
- Mary Beth Prodromides (60-64)
Five masters podium finishes:
- Laurie Meschishnick (55-59)
- Will Powell (60-64)
Three masters podium finishes:
- Rebecca Voigt Miller (40-44) [also one individual podium]
- Kelly Friel (40-44)
- Cheryl Brost (50-54)
- Jason Grubb (45-49)
Two masters podium finishes:
- Karen McCadam (45-49)
- Linda Elstun (55-59)
- Patricia McGill (60-64)
- Lynne Knapman (60-64)
- Alexandre Jolivet (40-44)
- Mike Kern (45-49)
- Justin LaSala (45-49)
- Shannon Aiken (60-64)
Will Powell at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Charlotte Foerschler
Significant Masters Games Appearances/Streaks (includes CFG22)
- Lynne Knapman (60-64) will be competing in her 12th consecutive Games — every CrossFit Games masters competition (she also qualified for the Games in 2020). The “Masters Ironwoman” keeps extending her streak, one of the most impressive CrossFit Games accomplishments of all-time. Her ability to stay healthy enough to qualify and compete at the CrossFit Games over a 13-year span is remarkable.
- Will Powell (60-64), Laurie Meschishnick (55-59), and Mary Beth Prodromides (60-64) will each make their ninth consecutive Games appearance in 2022, sharing the tie for second-most appearances of all time. (Powell and Meschishnick also qualified in 2020.)
- Linda Elstun (55-59) will make her eighth Games appearance. (She also qualified in 2020).
- Karen McCadam (45-49) and Jennifer Dieter (45-49) will make their seventh Games consecutive Games appearances in 2022. (Both also qualified in 2020).
New Age-Group Qualifying-Structure Effects: With just 10 athletes advancing to the Games out of the Age-Group Semifinals in each age division, the rosters are even more elite than in the past, when 20 athletes from each competed at the Games. One illustration of this is the average division age. The past average age ranged from between one to one and a half years into the age division, while the teenage divisions favored the older ages. This year, the average ages are even younger for masters (and older for teenagers) given the halved Games division field. Fifty percent of this year’s Games masters are “rookies” in their age division, and historically, the youngest in the age divisions have the most success.
Oldest Age for a Division: It is very difficult for athletes to qualify for the Games during their final year of eligibility for a division. Nevertheless, there were still a few masters who did just that (ages shown are at the time of the 2022 CrossFit Games): Kelly Friel (44), Kim Mullins (44), Giulio Silvino (49), Pauline Sciascia (64), Patty Bauer (69 – this will be her fifth year in the most senior competitive division, twice in 65+ and three times in 60+), and Joke Dikhoff (72). Dikhoff will be the oldest athlete competing in the 2022 CrossFit Games as well as the second-oldest athlete to compete at the Games, period (Jacinto Bonilla, who competed in the 2012 Games at 73, holds the record for oldest athlete to compete at the Games). Dikhoff was also the oldest Games athlete in 2015 at the age of 65.
Teenage Division Ages: Conversely, with the teenagers, the older athletes have the historical advantage. At the Games this year, there will be no 14-year-old boys and just one 16-year-old boy (Ty Jenkins). On the girls’ side, two 14-year-olds (Caroline Sabatini and Marissa Nichols) and four 16-year-olds (Olivia Kerstetter, Trista Smith, Hailey Rolfe, and Jenna Michelotti, who will turn 17 during the Games) will compete.
Notable Athletes on the Wrong Side of the Semifinal Cutline: Annie Sakamoto (13th), Joyanne Cooper (14th), Karen Lundgren (25th), Patricia Failla (DNS), Mary Schwing (16th), Frederik Aegidius (11th), Paul Tremblay (14th), Austin Malleolo (27th), Maxime Guyon (12th), Nuno Costa (19th), Joel Hughes (24th), Chad Augustin (25th), Jeffrey Tincher (14th), Vincent Diephuis (13th), Allen Duarte (12th), Dion Walmsley (16th), Carl Giuffre (17th), Rodrigo Dominguez (14th), and Thomas Ackerman (26th).
Giulio Silvino at the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games | Photo by Meg Ellery
Other Notable Observations
- Rebecca Voigt Miller (40-44) will make her 14th Games appearance, the most of any CrossFit athlete in history. She has competed as an individual 10 times and as a masters athlete thrice. She also qualified for the 2020 CrossFit Games as a master.
- Past Games individuals and team members making their masters debuts are: Chyna Cho, Angelica Bengtsson, Emilia Leppänen, Anita Pravatti, Sam Dancer, Rogelio Gamboa, Julian Serna, Justin Ahrens, and Craig Kenney.
- A major story for the teenage divisions this season — like last season — will be who is not competing. In 2021 it was Mallory O’Brien and Emma Cary. Both went individual that year, foregoing their final year of teenage division eligibility. This season, it is 17-year-old Emma Lawson who will compete as an individual at the Games. If not for the new 2022 rule that an athlete can only compete in one Semifinal division, Olivia Kerstetter and Trista Smith (both 16) may have competed in Semifinals as individuals, as Lawson did last season as a 16-year-old. Kerstetter would have had a decent chance of qualifying as an individual (similar to Lawson, who last year missed individual qualification by just four places). Kerstetter took 19th worldwide in the individual Quarterfinals this season and is stronger than almost all of the individual Games women.
- There were some athletes who barely made the top 30 in the AGQ, but who had outstanding Semifinal performances — saving their best for when it counted the most.
- Joanne McCullough (55-59): 1st Semis, 30th AGQ, +29
- Andy Kuhlmann (55-59): 3rd Semis, 28th AGQ, +25
- Michael Fry (55-59): 6th Semis, 30th AGQ, +24
- Chris Podesto (55-59): 5th Semis, 29th AGQ, +24
- Kyle Wyngaard (16-17): 5th Semis, 29th AGQ, +24
- Kim Stambaugh (55-59): 7th Semis, 29th AGQ, +22
- Kenneth Scherdell (65+): 8th Semis, 29th AGQ, +21
- Maryam Zanbagh (35-39): 3rd Semis, 24th AGQ, +21
- Kim Mullins (40-44): 10th Semis, 29th AGQ, +19
- Justin Ahrens (35-39): 8th Semis, 27th AGQ, +19
- Patti Walkover (65+): 9th Semis, 27th AGQ, +18
- Neale Currie (60-64): 7th Semis, 25th AGQ, +18
- Three masters Semifinal age-division winners will make their Games debuts this year: Vlad Liashkevich (45-49), Tea Gebbie (50-54), and Joanne McCullough (55-59).
Emma Lawson at the 2022 Atlas Games | Photo by @namastevo
On to the Games: With the first season of the new age-group qualifying system wrapped up, Games-bound age-group athletes can set their sights on final preparations. Note: There may be a couple of late withdrawals and/or backfills, but the age-group field is basically set. Now just the final 10 in each division are left to battle it out in Madison. For more information on the 2022 CrossFit Games, stay tuned to Games.CrossFit.com.