Although it shared its weekend with four other events, the Central East Regional was the show-stopper. The competitors’ names alone were enough to pique the interest of even the casual CrossFit Games observer: Julie Foucher, Rich Froning, Marcus Hendren, Graham Holmberg, Michelle Kinney and Scott Panchik.
“My professional opinion is that Rich—no matter what happens—is just unstoppable,” said commentator Chase Ingraham, who is also a member of CrossFit’s Level 1 Seminar Staff.
“He talks about people making him … go faster than he wants to, whereas people are going as fast as they can. And he’s just sitting around; he’s like, ‘All right, I guess I’ll go a little faster this time.’ It’s insane.”
But Panchik didn’t make it easy work for the three-time Games champion. Throughout the weekend, he was on Froning’s heels.
“It’s always easier to come from behind than it is to hold that first-place pace,” Panchik said with a smile.
All the while, newcomer Will Moorad often found himself head to head with Holmberg—both men pursuing the third qualifying spot.
“Graham’s unbelievable,” said Moorad, who eventually took third place. “I tell you what, I learned a lot about digging to the end competing against that guy this weekend.”
On the women’s side, all eyes were on Foucher after she took a year off to focus on medical school. She proved her fitness, winning the competition by 11 points.
Meanwhile, Kinney was looking to qualify again by outworking rookie Alyssa Ritchey. Kinney succeeded in standing on the podium in third.
“Oh, I absolutely knew I had to fight,” she said afterward. “This region, without a doubt, one of the hardest … . There’s not a lot of room for error. One mistake could be everything.”
Video by Mike Koslap.