Analysis by Tommy Marquez and Mike MacPherson
The focus of our Regional Power Rankings now shifts to the Team Division.
Cream of the Crop
The North East continues its impressive performance in this first iteration of Power Rankings by taking the top spot in the Team Division—and it wasn’t even close.
The second-place finishers—Central East and Europe—had more than double the North East’s total points. Beyond the top spot is a tight grouping for the remaining top-five spots with very narrow margins.
In the overall points total, just 2 points separate second (Central East/Europe - 13 points) through fourth (North Central/South East - 15 points). These four regions also filled out spots two through five in the Region Strength category, with the difference between second (South East) and fifth (North Central) being just 19 spots on the worldwide Open leaderboard.
With minor changes, the entire ranking could shift. If the North Central’s representative in the Region Strength category, South Loop CrossFit, finished 1:28 faster as a team (15 seconds/athlete) on 16.5, then it would have moved the North Central from fifth to second in Regional Strength, and overall would move the region from a tie for foutth to squarely in second.
Fifteen seconds per athlete on one team is all that separates an entire region from climbing from fifth to second in the Team Division. With that in mind, I’d be astonished if the top five didn’t see significant reordering in 2017.
Middle of the Road
The six middle regions shook out into two distinct closely grouped trios.
The top trio of Mid Atlantic (sixth - 18 points), South Central and Southern California (tie seventh - 21 points) each took very different routes to their 2016 rankings. The Mid Atlantic was average in both Region Strength and Depth, but excelled in Elite Strength thanks to 12 Labours CrossFit finishing second overall at the Games.
The South Central scored second in Region Depth but it evened out by a disappointing 13th in Elite Strength after neither of the region’s two teams (CrossFit Overtake and Pillar CrossFit) were able to crack the top 30 at the Games.
SoCal was consistently decent across the board with a sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
The bottom trio of Canada East, Northern California (tie ninth - 30 points), and Australia (11th - 31 points), are toying with the possibility of ending up in the bottom six if there’s no improvement. Two to 3 points separate the regions from 12th-placed North West (33 points).
For NorCal, improvement in the Elite Strength department is expected. Prior to 2016, the region had a team finish in the top five for four of the previous five seasons and never had a team outside the top 10.
Diablo CrossFit (ninth in 2016) is a past podium team with an extensive resume, and the return of NorCal CrossFit with Molly Vollmer, Jen Cadmus and Colleen Fotsch as their women’s trio, make two teams with the firepower to make a push up the leaderboard.
Regardless, some major improvements in the Open, and subsequently Region Strength and Depth, would be needed for any of the bottom trio regions to make a serious push for the top. The North Central and South East finished 15 and 16 points ahead, respectively, and that’s a gap I don’t foresee being closed.
Bottom of the Barrel
The bottom six regions provided some surprises. Namely, regions like the South West, North West, and Canada West with storied Affiliate Cup teams like UTE CrossFit (Hack’s pack), CrossFit Fort Vancouver, Team Taranis, and CrossFit Marysville. It definitely showcases how fickle the competitive landscape of the Affiliate Cup can be from year to year.
An example that’s worth monitoring going forward is the curious case of Jamie Greene, CrossFit YAS and the Africa Region. Africa was 16th in both Region Strength and Region Depth but third overall in Elite Strength, thanks to CrossFit YAS showing up to the Games and taking third overall.
The most recognizable name on the team from Yas was Greene, who quietly won the 2016 Open. If she decides to go individual this year, she’ll be tough to replace. It’s reasonable to think that CrossFit YAS might not see the same success as last year and ultimately plummet Africa down in the Elite Strength category.
The inverse of that would be the formation of an extremely talented team in the South West.
2015 individual Games competitor, and two-time Affiliate Cup champion with Hack’s Pack, Adrian Conway, posted his intentions on going team on social media. Joining him will be three extremely talented women: former Games athletes Mandi Janowitz and Tiffany Hendrickson, and sixth-place finisher in the South Regional, Michaela North.
Brennan Fjord, member of UTE CrossFit’s third-place Affiliate Cup team in 2015, and Chase Heywood, member of both Rockwell CrossFit’s and CrossFit the Club’s Games teams in 2014 and 2016, will join as well. This team has the potential to make a big impact at the Games, and maybe move the South West up into the middle six regions.
The team competition presents a much more volatile circumstance. Adding more athletes to the equation further complicates the process. Much like the experience of competing on a team, one persons’ decisions can have a ripple effect that’s felt across the leaderboard.
I think that’s what is so appealing about the Affiliate Cup. The predictability of the individual competition is thrown out the window and in its place sits a rotating door of teams bearing the flag of their affiliates and the communities that cultivated them.