Competing in the 2021 AGOQ

This year’s qualifying process for the CrossFit Games offered a number of challenges to the organizers. There were a lot of questions about the ability of athletes to participate, whether or not various qualifying events could be held, and numerous other considerations. HQ came up with a brilliant solution by creating a second round of online qualification for Open category athletes and teams, and expanding the size of the Age Group Online Qualifier to the top 10% of athletes in each group, instead of the traditional top 200.

I generally consider my competition days behind me. My last trip to Regionals was a decade ago, in 2011. I’ve occasionally considered making a run at Masters competition, but I’ve never put any serious effort into it. I’ve placed close to the cut for the AGOQ a few times, but never quite made it. This year’s expanded AGOQ was a fun opportunity to get a little taste of that next level of the qualification process.

After finishing 579th among Men(40-44) in the Open, I didn’t have any lofty aspirations of qualifying for the Games. Only the top 20 Men and Women in each age group get that invitation. My only goal was to finish higher in the AGOQ than I did in the Open.

For those who are unfamiliar with the format of the AGOQ, it was the same as this year’s quarterfinal qualifier, five events to be completed over the course of three days. All five events were released on Thursday afternoon. Events 1 and 2 had to be completed in the first 24 hours, events 3 and 4 by Saturday afternoon, and the final event at the close of the weekend, on Sunday.

2021 Age Group Online Qualifier Events:

5 rounds for time:
15 handstand push-ups
15 dumbbell shoulder-to-overheads, 50-lb. dumbbells
15-cal. row
Time cap: 20 min.

For time:
60 GHD sit-ups
6 rope climbs, 15 ft.
60 alternating single-leg squats
50 GHD sit-ups
5 rope climbs, 15 ft.
50 alternating single-leg squats
40 GHD sit-ups
4 rope climbs, 15 ft.
40 alternating single-leg squats
Time cap: 20 min.

For time:
75 cleans, 135 lb.
300 double-unders
Time cap: 15 min.

For max load: 
4-rep-max front squat
Time frame: 20 min.

For time:
12-9-6 reps of:
Overhead squat
Burpee box jump-over
165 lb., 30-in. box
Time cap: 10 min.

The first two events were ones I knew would be trouble. I come from an era when kipping handstand push-ups weren’t really a thing, and they definitely weren’t allowed in competition, so I’ve never really bothered to add them to my repertoire. Event 1 started very well, but once I started to fatigue, it went south quickly. The second workout wasn’t much better. High rep GHDs generally bother my back after a while, and my rope climbs have fallen out of practice over the last year, partly from the few months of being out of the gym, and partly due to the fact they cause me some elbow pain, stemming from a hand injury a couple years ago. At the end of day 1, I was not sitting pretty.

Events 3 and 4 were both in my wheelhouse. Power cleans, double unders, and front squats are things I’m always happy to see. I placed fairly well on both of those events, with the 4 rep front squat being my best placement on the weekend (107th). I liked the choice of the 4 rep max. How many people know their 4 rep off the top of their head, or have ever even tested a 4 rep max? The best you can do with that is just shoot for your 3 rep max, and hope you can squeeze that 4th rep. Day 2 left me sitting inside the top 300, which I was pretty happy with, after the rough first day.

The last event was probably the most disappointing for me. A 165lb overhead squat, while not a light weight, isn’t something I would usually consider particularly heavy. Unfortunately, a nagging shoulder injury from shortly before the Open has kept me from working any heavy snatches or overhead squats recently. While not heavy in the legs, my shoulders felt incredibly tight during that workout, and I had a lot of trouble keeping the weight stable. I finished the workout, which I guess is a win, but it ended up being my worst placement of the weekend, in a type of workout that I traditionally excel in.

When all was said and done, I finished 358th in my age group. I managed to accomplish my primary goal of finishing higher in the AGOQ than I did in the Open, moving up over 200 spots, but I definitely ended the weekend feeling like I’d left something on the table. Guess we’ll see what next year brings.

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