This time last year, I published my 5 Athletes to Watch in CrossFit and the NPGL list. All five were subsequently drafted by GRID teams, and each went on to play key roles for their respective squads.

 

  • Emily Pale was a starter and dominant player for the Phoenix Rise.
  • Nick DelGrande was the first athlete drafted in the 2014 NPGL draft and went on to play for the Philly Founders.
  • Andrew Rape and Tina Angelotti were both drafted by the New York Rhinos.
  • Abby Graham was drafted by the champion DC Brawlers and became part of the Taylar Stallings-Abby Graham dynamic duo that dominated the female side of the GRID last season.

 

So who will emerge in GRID’s second season as major new talent and prolific contributors to their teams? Here is my prediction for five of the future stars of GRID:

 

Christen Wagner

  • Snatch: 165lbs
  • Clean: 225lb
  • Consecutive Muscle Ups: 13

 

Breaking Muscle Shop

 

Wagner was the first athlete drafted in the first round. Picked up by the expansion team the Baltimore Anthem, Wagner is a highly seasoned CrossFit competitor, having been to the CrossFit Games both as an individual out of the Asia Region and then twice as a member of a team.

 

Wagner will lead the Anthem as a generalist - an athlete who has the ability to move heavy weight, excel at bodyweight movements, and do pretty much everything in between. She blew everyone away with her speed, strength, and skill at both the Baltimore Pro Day and the combine, making her the most sought-after athlete in the draft pool. I predict she will be one of the cornerstones of the Baltimore team in its first year on the GRID.

 

Follow Christen on Instagram.

 

Becca Day

  • Clean: 315lbs
  • Snatch: 225lb

 

becca day, grid league, crossfit

 

Day blew up in late 2014 after this video of her cleaning 305-lbs went viral:

 

 

The video immediately caught the attention of a number of GRID teams, and it wasn’t long before Day signed with the champion DC Brawlers. Extremely strong, yet highly versatile, Day is poised to take GRID by storm, as she enters the league as probably the strongest female. (Although Baltimore’s Hannah Caldas is hot on her heels.) Day cycles the bar extremely quickly and has been working on gymnastics and other bodyweight movements to make sure she is valuable in all quadrants, not just the fourth.

 

One additional point of interest: the Brawlers’ Abby Graham will be sidelined this year due to shoulder surgery, so DC’s dynamic duo has now become Day and Stallings. Imagine for a moment, a team where Taylar Stallings is the second strongest female on the team?

 

Follow Becca on Instagram.

 

Wes Kitts

  • Clean and Jerk: 440lbs
  • Snatch: 363lbs
  • Back Squat: 604lbs

 

wes kitts, grid league, crossfit

 

Kitts was also a first-round draft pick, picked up by the New York Rhinos in a bid to strengthen the bottom. With a 440lb clean and jerk, he is undeniably strong and will rival many of the current strongest stars of GRID, namely Danny Nichols and Ken Battiston.

 

The Rhinos needed a strong man, and Kitts is just the man, as his stats indicate. Without a doubt, he will be a starter for New York this year and will likely be seen in every race that includes a barbell. Wes has had a successful weightlifting career, having qualified for 2014 American Open weightlifting competition. While he can and will add a few reps here and there on bodyweight movements, for the most part Kitts will be the strong anchor.

 

Follow Wes on Instagram.

 

Jessica Malone

  • Consecutive Muscle Ups: 14

 

jessica malone, grid league, crossfit

 

Jessica, age 32, will surprise a lot of people in 2015. At her Pro Day in Columbia, South Carolina, she flew just under the radar - clearly talented with polished bodyweight prowess, but also unassuming and humble. She earned a spot at the combine and was then drafted in the second round by the DC Brawlers.

 

What made her so attractive to the coaches and scouts was her ferocity. Yes, she could do the bodyweight movements, but when it came time to work a barbell, she attacked it. Her barbell cycle time and speed on and off the GRID is a fairly instinctual phenomenon that coaches can’t really teach. So, when they see it occurring in the wild, they draft.

 

Malone comes into the Brawler organization at an opportune time, as bodyweight MVP Lindsey Menery is out with a back injury. I believe you will see Malone step up to the plate and excel in the 2015 season. As a CrossFit athlete, she competed in the South Central Regionals, finishing nineteenth in 2012, seventh in 2013, and fifth in 2014.

 

Ryan Elrod

  • Consecutive Muscle Ups: 23
  • 4 Rope Climbs: 15.3 seconds

 

ryan elrod, grid league, crossfit

 

Elrod is more proof that GRID is attracting athletes from outside the world of CrossFit in its second season. NFL Players, Olympians, and gymnasts have all flocked to GRID, and Elrod is no exception. He is literally a circus performer, under contract with the Cirque du Soleil in Miamim where he has worked for the last six years.

 

Ryan’s bodyweight talent will amaze fans in 2015 as GRID elements become more involved (for example: muscle up to back uprise, toes-to-bar/chest-to-bar/bar-muscle up combinations) His 23 muscle ups in 80 seconds and his 15.3-second four-rope-ascent score eclipsed everyone in every single Pro Day leading up to the combine.

 

Elrod was grabbed by the DC Brawlers early in the draft. His acquisition allows teammate Marcus Hendren to focus more on barbell movements rather than complex bodyweight elements. This will position Elrod to be a new star on the Brawlers’ squad.

Follow Ryan on Instagram.


What are your thoughts on the 2015 GRID season? Which athletes and which teams do you see coming out on top and why? Post your thoughts to our discussion forums.

 

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Photos courtesy of NPGL.

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