First to the Finals: 2023 Semifinals Week 1 Games Qualifiers

May 22, 2023

Kelley Laxton

Take a look at the best-performing individual men, women, and teams advancing to the finals from the North America East and Africa Semifinals.

With one week down, 25 athletes and 11 teams have punched their tickets to the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. 

The first two regions to take on the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Semifinals were North America East and Africa. Take a look at the best-performing individual men, women, and teams advancing to the finals in August. 

North America East

Top Ten Teams


  1. CrossFit East Nashville PRVN
  2. CrossFit Move Fast Life Heavy 247
  3. AB CrossFit - Mayhem
  4. CrossFit Mayhem Independence
  5. CrossFit Krypton
  6. CrossFit CLT the Grit Haus
  7. CrossFit OBA
  8. TTT CrossFit Black
  9. CrossFit PSC Invasion
  10. CrossFit Milford Team Conquer




Standout Team: AB CrossFit - Mayhem

AB CrossFit - Mayhem

Photo by Charlotte Foerschler


Sitting in third on the podium is AB CrossFit - Mayhem and the final test of the North America East Semifinal was one of the most memorable moments for the entire affiliate from Miami, Florida. After snagging a backfill spot to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games, the team received its invitation over the phone. No screaming fans, no family cheering them on, no podium ceremony. 

But this year, AB CrossFit - Mayhem returned, this time on its home field, determined to get its moment to shine. Backed by a sea of friends and family chanting “AB” in the stands, AB CrossFit - Mayhem athletes crossed the finish line first, knowing they had just been granted a ticket to the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. 

And the crowd went wild. 


Top women North America East


  1. Emma Cary
  2. Danielle Brandon
  3. Amanda Barnhart
  4. Emma Lawson
  5. Alexis Raptis
  6. Paige Powers
  7. Sydney Wells
  8. Feeroozeh Saghafi
  9. Shelby Neal
  10. Caroline Stanley
  11. Paige Semenza




Standout Athlete: Emma Cary

Emma Cary

Photo by Ginnie Coleman


On March 25, 2022, 17–year-old Emma Cary announced she would be withdrawing from the 2022 CrossFit Games season on her Instagram.

It was a devastating decision for the up-and-coming teen star, newly appointed to the Individual Women’s division and a threat to the leaders.

But her response was, “Now I have 500 days to pour my everything into training for the 2023 CrossFit Games.”

Cary’s name returned to the 2023 Open roster in one year, and her year off only made her more dangerous.

At the North America East Semifinal, you could tell Cary thrived in live competition. She wasn’t afraid to suffer and the roaring crowd only made her push harder.

At the start of the final event, Cary sat in first place, just 3 points separating her from training partner Danielle Brandon. It was a sprint to the finish and Cary gave it everything she had, taking her first test win of the weekend.

She told sideline reporter Mike Arsenault that she practiced this test before arriving in Orlando and went out too hot. So in true Cary fashion, she went even faster on the competition floor.

Cary is the winner of the North America East Semifinal and will return to the CrossFit Games once again, ready for redemption.

“All the days of doubt in training and just the adversity I’ve faced, and the lessons that brought me here, it shows me I can put it all together for something good,” Cary said. “It’s all used for a greater purpose.” 


Top Men North America East


  1. Jeffrey Adler 
  2. Jayson Hopper
  3. Dallin Pepper
  4. Roman Khrennikov
  5. Will Moorad
  6. Samuel Cournoyer
  7. Noah Ohlsen
  8. Luke Parker
  9. Alex Vigneault
  10. Jack Farlow
  11. James Sprague 
  12. Spencer Panchik




Standout Athlete: James Sprague 

James Sprague

Photo by flsportsguy photography


It is the final moment before the announcement of the Games-qualifying athletes at the 2022 Syndicate Crown Semifinal. James Sprague was well above the cutline, a 53-point buffer separating himself from sixth place. But when the top five athletes qualifying for the Games were announced, Sprague found out he was bumped out of his qualifying spot by Will Moorad, who had jumped the leaderboard by an incredible 80 points, securing fifth by just one point over Sprauge. 

His hopes of debuting as an individual at the CrossFit Games were lost for another year. But Sprague didn’t let that happen again. 

At the 2023 North America East Semifinal, Sprague gave every test his all, learning his lesson from last year — no one is safe. By Sunday afternoon, Sprague had secured his ticket to the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games for his first individual appearance, unable to relax his smile from the moment his 11th-place finish was announced. 



Fittest in Africa


Top Team


CrossFit FBDV Mayhem Africa




About the Winner

CrossFit FBDV Mayhem Africa

Photo by Roarke Bouffe


Team CrossFit FBDV Mayhem Africa out of CrossFit Unboxed is captained by two-time individual Games athlete Michelle Merand. The remaining three team members — Alan Foulis, AJ Visser, and Angelique Connoway — will be headed to the CrossFit Games for the first time in their careers. 

Unsurprisingly, as the team reps the Mayhem name on their shirts, CrossFit FBDV Mayhem Africa never fell below third in any test over the weekend. They received three first-place finishes in Tests 1, 2, and 5. 


Top Woman


Michelle Basnett




About the Winner

Michelle Basnett

Photo by Roarke Bouffe


Michelle Basnett missed the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games by just two spots last year at the Fittest in Cape Town Semifinal. It actually went to this year’s winning team captain Michelle Merand. 

Entering the final test of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Africa Semifinal, Bansett was in the lead by just one point. Her performance would be crucial … so, she snagged first place in Test 7. 

“I’ve learned how to mentally push myself,” Basnett said. “I’ve learned to weigh in my effort and not so much my outcome, and that’s exactly what happened this weekend.”

Basnett will be returning for her second CrossFit Games appearance.


Top Man


Jason Smith




About the Winner

Jason Smith

Photo by Roarke Bouffe


Thirty-nine-year-old Jason Smith is a three-time CrossFit Games athlete (2017, 2019, 2021). He admits he was not planning on attending the Africa Semifinal, taking the masters route instead, but decided to “put on one more show.” Smith narrowly missed a ticket to the 2022 CrossFit Games by just one spot last year and put on a show-stopping performance this weekend to get it back. 

Starting out Test 1 with a first-place finish, Smith consistently stayed within the top 10 throughout every test. He finished the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games Africa Semifinal with a 96-point lead over second-place finisher Conrad Winnertz. 

“I’m going (to the Games) to give it a shot for South Africa one more time,” Smith cheered to the crowd. 

Watch your favorite athletes and teams live in action at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games from Aug. 1-6. Tickets are still available. Learn more HERE.


Record Holders

For the 2023 season, all tests across all competitions are standardized. That means during the Semifinals, every athlete across the world will be competing in the same seven tests that will determine the fittest few advancing to the final stage — the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. 

As the Semifinals progress, we will keep track of each test record holder, updating this article as records are broken.





Learn More


Cover Photo by Johany Jutras