March 31, 2018
Tommy's 18.5 Report Card
By Tommy Marquez
Kara Saunders, Travis Williams and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet earn top marks.
Kara Saunders, Travis Williams and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet earn top marks.

Congratulations!

If you’re reading this, then you made it through the Open. 

The final test included a nice twist as the community at large was given a chance to “choose your own adventure” for 18.5.

Three potential workouts were offered up for a vote.

The community chose wisely and opted for a repeat of 11.6/12.5. 

If you’ve been around the sport awhile, 18.5 presented a nice opportunity to see how you compare to your former self. 

For many newcomers, it was their first shot at a workout that was the coup de grace in the first two years of the Open. 

Even though my lungs and legs are still recovering, ascending reps of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups seemed like a fitting way to end this year’s Open. 

Below are my grades for 18.5. Next week will be my final Open report card, recapping the competition as a whole. So for this week, I’m Mr. Brightside and focusing on the positive.

Grade: A+ 

Kara Saunders 

This one was a shoo-in. 

Kara Saunders was the only human being to break the 200-rep barrier in 18.5. Her 201 reps earned her her third career Open workout win. 

The win marks three straight years that Saunders has won an Open workout, and it brought the final point spread between her and Open winner Cassidy Lance-McWherter to just 4 points.

Her score also made our web development team start to sweat a little bit. When inputting the upper limit threshold for score submissions (meaning that anything above the threshold immediately gets flagged), the team set 210 reps as the limit.

As scores rolled in Monday, seeing a score of 201 definitely got a few people worried about whether or not someone might (welcomely) break the system with a monster 210+ performance.

Saunders’ score held, and she stood alone at the Open’s end as the lone member of the 200 club, which undoubtedly earns her top honors.

Travis Williams

Travis Williams’ third-place score with 189 reps may not have been the top mark, but some of the circumstances that followed his performance convinced me to include him here.

A few hours after performing 18.5 at Logan Collins’ gym, Williams, along with his Airrosti teammates, was set to make an appearance at a “Friday Night Lights” event at a nearby affiliate. 

Williams previously had committed to performing the workout for the crowd, and rather than backing down, he promptly stepped up and hit the workout again for the second time in four hours, this time finishing with 180 reps.

His second score would have been good enough for 34th place worldwide. Think about that.

In four hours, he hit one of the more painful workouts in recent memory twice, put up two top scores, and in totality completed more than four heavy chest-to-bar versions of Fran in 14 minutes. 

The feat encapsulates what, in my opinion, is Williams’ greatest attribute as an athlete: turning his brain off and pushing the redline. 

It was doubtful that he was going to get a better score, but he did it for the crowd. That’s an A+ in my book.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

Across the history of the CrossFit Games Open, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet stands alone as the queen of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups.

CLB nearly eclipsed the 200-rep mark, finishing with 199 reps, which placed her second overall in the workout. 

Workout 18.5 marked the third time that she’s completed this workout in Open competition; she also took on 11.6 and 12.5. 

She’s never finished outside of the top two in the workout overall, and she previously held the record for the workout with 173 reps in 2012. 

Not only is she the only woman to have placed that high in all three iterations of the workout, but she also is the only athlete period to have finished in the top 10 all three times.

The result is also promising for CLB’s return from injury after withdrawing from the Games and having shoulder surgery. 

Being at the top of a workout in back-to-back years is great, but still being at the top after more than half a decade is amazing given the progress of the women’s field. 

Grade: A

Matt Williams

Back in 2011, Josh Bridges set the record score for 11.6 with 169 total reps. One year later, in 12.5, no male athlete was able to best that score (Bridges was unable to compete due to military obligations). 

Fast-forward to 2018 and 203 male athletes were able to beat Bridges’ record score from 2011.

Matt Williams has the distinction of being the only man over 40 to beat it. The 40-year-old won the workout in the Men’s 40-44 Division with 171 reps. 

Unfortunately, there’s no apples-to-apples comparison to past performances in his age group since the 40-44 Division didn’t exist in 2011 and 12. Still, beating a then 28-year-old Josh Bridges in any workout is no small feat. 

Williams, out of CrossFit Air Command in the United Kingdom, must be a fan of gymnastics, as all three of his top scores in the Open came in workouts that included a pull-up bar. 

The performance also solidified his place inside the top 200 worldwide, which means he’ll get the opportunity to compete in the Age Group Online Qualifier. 

It’s a nice accomplishment and also earns him an A for 18.5.

Hylie Thompson

Typically, when most CrossFit athletes tackle variations of Fran, the round of 21 is mostly an afterthought. 

It’s merely a segue to the pain and suffering brought on by the round of 15 and cemented during the round of 9. 

In 18.5, however, the round of 21 represented a performance benchmark that only a select few could attain. 

Less than one percent of all athletes in 18.5 made it through the round of 21 and into the round of 24, and Hylie Thompson was the only woman north of 50 years old to accomplish the feat. 

Thompson capped off her best overall Open finish ever with an event win in the Women’s 55-59 Division. 

Sitting in second place overall, Thompson looks like a strong contender to make it to the CrossFit Games once again and potentially onto the podium for the first time. 

This is her first year in the 55-59 Division after previously competing in the 50-54 Division. 

What better way to make a splash than winning a nasty workout to close out the Open? 

Cover image: Courtesy of Shaun Cleary