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  • Can Justin Cotler Bring Out Alex Gazan's "Killer Instinct"?

Can Justin Cotler Bring Out Alex Gazan's "Killer Instinct"?


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Can Alex Gazan be as “bulletproof” as some of CrossFit’s greatest ever? Justin Cotler certainly thinks so, and we sat down with them to discuss their preparations for the 2024 Games.

  • Could you predict the 2024 CrossFit Games rookie qualifiers? We outline some off-season competitions they took on and how their potential showed out.

  • We often hear about CrossFit training as “an elegant solution to the world’s most vexing problem”: chronic disease. Jessica Welch’s recovery story shows the powerful benefits of CrossFit’s “general physical preparedness” in another way.


“She needs to trust how good she is, [her]natural tendency is to be cautious, and she needs to learn when to bring out the killer.” - Underdogs head coach Justin Cotler on how he and Alex Gazan are preparing her mental game


Credit: @alexgazan_ / Instagram

Building a Bulletproof Athlete: A Conversation With Alex Gazan and Justin Cotler

Before the 2024 West Coast Classic, Alex Gazan and her coach, Justin Cotler, had a strong sense that she was not only going to win Event 3 but also set the worldwide record. 

  • “It was an event that was mine to lose,” Gazan told Morning Chalk Up.

In training, Cotler had her run similar versions of the workout but never the exact version that she executed in Carson. 

Gazan finished the workout in 10:27, beating out fellow Event 3 winners Emma Tall and Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr in the other semifinals. 

Ending the weekend with a second-place overall finish, 2023’s Most Improved at the CrossFit Games secured her third consecutive invitation to throw down with the best in Fort Worth this season.

Some Background

Gazan qualified for her first CrossFit Games by taking fourth place at the 2022 Granite Games.  It was then that Cotler knew he had an athlete with some tremendous talent on his hands. 

Taking 24th place at the Games that year, the then 20-year-old needed experience and fine-tuning. When Cotler worked with Gazan that first season leading up to the Granite Games, the only goal was to qualify for Madison. 

  • When we first met, we were just trying to make it to Semis. But her maturation has been so fast. It was at the Granite Games that I realized, ‘Oh, she’s good. She’s going to be good,’” Cotler told Morning Chalk Up.

Gazan’s fitness and skill level improved dramatically as she trained from the 2022 Games to the 2023 Games. She won the North America West Semifinal in Pasadena and went on to take fifth overall at the CrossFit Games, collecting six top-ten event finishes along the way.


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🎟️🎫TYR Wodapalooza SoCal Update: Wave two of athlete registration opens today at 9:00 a.m. PT / 12:00 p.m. ET. All community divisions register via open registration in TYR WZA SoCal’s inaugural year. Get more details here.

🥇💰CrossFit Games Prize Purse Details: In case you missed it, the CrossFit Games team released some more details about the 2024 Games season prize purse. Also, take a look back at our deep dive from when the prize purse was initially announced back in May.

👂📢 Constantly Varied Conversations: Check out the creator behind “WooleyMemeth,” John Wooley’s response to Dave Castro’s discussion of their history in his “Week in Review.”

  • Wooley used the opportunity of this history lesson to talk about the future of CrossFit, private equity, and other insights he’s gleaned from conversations with Don Faul and Jay DeCoons.

💪🎟️ Rogue Invitational Tickets Going Fast: The Rogue Invitational is heading to Aberdeen, Scotland, this November, 8-10 at P&J Live. Make sure to get your tickets now before they’re gone for good.

ICYMI: We got a chance to chat with 2024 HYROX World Champions Megan Jacoby and Alexander Roncevic and learned about the sport’s growth and how they transitioned from other elite athletics to fitness racing.


Credit: @mayhemathlete / Instagram

Could You Have Predicted the 2024 CrossFit Games Rookies This Past Offseason?

Now that the dust has fully settled from the Semifinals season, 11 men and 12 women earned their first invitations to the CrossFit Games. 

Arguably the most recognized name on the 2024 rookies list is Victor Hoffer. 

Hoffer was invited to be a member of the 2023 CrossFit games Demo Team and qualified for the 2023 Rogue Invitational, where he finished 17th. 

  • But even with those accolades, the majority of casual CrossFit fans will be seeing him compete for the first time this summer. 

As with most rookie classes, the 2024 group comes in without a lot of mainstream recognition. 

While they aren’t household names in the world of CrossFit, they have been out there competing with the best in the world. 

  • At least 20 of the rookies had an individual offseason competition over the past year that included past Games athletes or other Semifinalists. 

Seven of the 2024 rookies competed in two major competitions this off-season, while 13 competed in one, and three others did not compete outside of the Semifinals (that we could find).

Where could you find the 2024 rookies this past off-season?


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Credit: @iamjessicawelch / Instagram

When CrossFit’s “General Physical Preparedness” Means Something More: Jessica Welch’s Recovery Story

Jessica and Eddy Welch have lived their best lives outside Billings, MT, for several years. 

The two discovered CrossFit about five years ago, right after Jessica gave birth to their second son, and instantly, they were hooked.

  • “It was this whole outlook on fitness that wasn't based on how you look or how much you weighed,” Jessica told the Morning Chalk Up in an interview. “It was just what you could do with your body. So I drank the Kool-Aid, became a coach, and started wanting to compete in the sport.”

Jessica started doing private fitness and nutrition coaching, and things were going well … until they weren’t.

During the 2022 CrossFit Open, Jessica was doing Workout 22.3, a workout with several movements, including bar muscle-ups and thrusters.

She remembers exactly when things started to feel off — she failed a bar muscle-up and thought maybe she had injured her ribs. 

  • “After that, I had ongoing rib pain for about a year and a half,” she said. “I couldn't figure out what it was. I was going to my chiropractor and physical therapist, who both do CrossFit. My chiropractor suggested I get an MRI and X-rays.”

Identifying the Problem

Doctors thought that Jessica had separated or fractured her rib, but the two X-rays she had showed nothing. Her blood work also looked great, and her doctors kept saying she was healthy.

Everything came back normal. But Jessica knew something was wrong.


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 💪Nice work to Leonela of Costa Rica on the 83-kilo/185-pound Bella Complex.

  • Great job to Dusty Hyland on the skill work, especially those L-Sit rope climbs. 😮‍💨

  • Congratulations to everyone who participated in Sam Dancer’s California Glow Row event.

  • Check out this duo from CrossFit Allegiance in Denver, NC, getting a good warm-up in before their workout.

  • 🙌Great work to Rayane from Brazil on her first toes-to-bar.