Comeback Season — 20 Male Athletes Eyeing Returns or Debuts at the 2023 CrossFit Games

With the 2023 CrossFit Games season set to kick-off Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, with the stay Open announcement for workout 23.1 in Madrid, Spain, 1000’s of male athletes search to punch their ticket to Madison, WI, to compete on the 2023 Video games.

The 20 male athletes listed beneath have both reached the Video games in seasons earlier than 2022 or simply missed making their Video games debuts in 2023 — there’s absence on the 2022 Video games on account of accidents, underperformance, or competing within the Group division. Beneath is a breakdown of 20 Particular person male athletes aiming to make their Video games return or debut in 2023:

[Related: Comeback Season — 20 Female Athletes Eyeing Returns Or Debuts For The 2023 CrossFit Games]

Chandler Smith
Picture by way of Patrick Clark

Editor’s word: This text is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the writer’s and don’t essentially mirror the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced completely by the writer.

Searching for a Wholesome Season

  • Scott Panchik
  • David Shorunke

Scott Panchik

The soon-to-be 34-year-old Panchik certified for the Video games yearly since 2012, aside from the 2022 season. Hisis bid for a tenth Video games look ended on the Syndicate Crown Semifinal. 

After asserting that the 2021 Video games can be his final competitive season, Panchik reversed course throughout the 2022 season by qualifying for the Semifinals. He went into the Semifinal as one of many favorites to safe one of many 5 out there Video games invitations. After the primary two occasions, he sat in fourth earlier than suffering a knee injury within the third occasion when he landed awkwardly on the surplus portion of a rope. That harm led to his withdrawal from the competitors. He obtained surgical procedure to restore a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Since that incident, Panchik has been hesitant to say whether or not he’s legitimately retired from aggressive CrossFit or not. He doesn’t practice like he did when he was close to the height of the game, however slightly approaches every stage of the season as they arrive. If that results in a Video games look, so be it.

Nonetheless, Panchik has made it identified that he would like to compete on the Video games as an Particular person alongside his brothers, Saxon and Spencer. Scott Panchik has competed towards Saxon on CrossFit’s greatest stage thrice (2018, 2019, and 2021) however has not competed towards Spencer, who made his Video games debut in 2022.

Scott Panchik is likely one of the most achieved Particular person athletes in Video games historical past and arguably the best athlete by no means to complete on the rostrum. With seven top-10 finishes, together with three fourth locations, Panchik could now not be a podium favourite, however he might nonetheless depart his mark on the leaderboard on the Video games.

David Shorunke

Shorunke has lengthy been thought-about one of many fittest males not solely in the UK however in Europe. Nonetheless, he hasn’t had many probabilities to show that on account of inconsistencies and accidents.

After his preliminary Video games look in 2016 as a member of the sixth-place CrossFit Nordic crew, Shorunke waited 4 years to compete as an Particular person just about on the 2020 Video games. Sadly, he withdrew on account of “decrease again points.”

Since that point, Shorunke has suffered harm setback after harm setback. In 2021, accidents hampered him throughout the Open. In 2022, he was once more struck down by accidents throughout the Quarterfinals. For 2023, Shorunke seems totally recovered, together with his rehabbed knee following surgical procedure. A wholesome Shorunke was on show on the 2022 Madrid CrossFit Championship, the place he positioned third.

The Minimize Record

The athletes beneath are those that did not qualify for the 2022 Video games:

  • Fabian Beneito
  • Jake Berman
  • Tyler Christophel
  • Matt Dlugos
  • Luka Đukić
  • Anthony Haynes
  • Bayley Martin
  • Adrian Mundwiler
  • Bronisław Olenkowicz
  • Griffin Roelle
  • Chandler Smith
  • Jason Smith
  • James Sprague
  • Scott Tetlow
  • Zach Watts

Chandler Smith

Smith can even attribute his failed 2022 season to his well being — as can Mundwiler and Dlugos. There’s no denying that Smith is likely one of the most proficient athletes in CrossFit. His uncooked energy makes him stand out. Nonetheless, he’s removed from a one-trick pony.

Smith’s baseline health and gymnastics expertise are on par with a number of the greatest within the Particular person males’s area. The three-time Video games veteran first burst onto the scene on the 2016 Atlantic Regionals, however has not fairly reached the potential that his skillset would counsel he’s able to. His 2022 season ended on the Granite Games Semifinal, the place he struggled with a foul case of bronchial asthma that was famously documented within the Buttery Bros brief movie “Within the Enviornment.”

Smith ranked eleventh on the 2022 Granite Video games after ending second in 2021. His CrossFit season sadly ended after beginning with a career-best twentieth within the Open and second within the North America Quarterfinals (fourth worldwide).

To not be deterred, the retired United States Army Armor Captain has showcased his health at different occasions. He gained the CanWest Video games in July 2022, and ranked second on the 2022 Rogue Invitational in October 2022. He  partnered with Noah Ohlsen and Saxon Panchik to win the 2022 Down Under Championship crew title in November and completed second in crew competitors on the 2023 TYR Wodapalooza alongside teammates Ohlsen and Travis Mayer.

Having relocated together with his spouse and fellow CrossFit athlete Jessi Smith to San Diego, CA, to coach for the 2023 season, Smith has his sights set on returning to the Video games.

Tyler Christophel

Christophel skilled Video games heartbreak twice and goals to return to Madison as an Particular person. In 2022, on the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Problem (MACC), he was in a Video games qualifying spot by 28 factors heading into the ultimate occasion. Then catastrophe struck as he struggled together with his closing set of overhead walking lunges.

Chistophel completed nineteenth in that occasion regardless of constant top-10 finishes all through that weekend. He fell to seventh place total and was relegated to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). He positioned fifth within the LCQ, ending his season.

It was deja vu for the Mayhem Athlete, as he positioned one spot outdoors a Video games qualifying spot with a sixth-place rank on the digital Atlas Games Semifinal. His third-place end on the LCQ was eight factors wanting a Video games invite.

The Louisiana native competed on the 2020 Video games after putting a career-best ninth within the Open in his first 12 months as an Particular person competitor. He positioned twenty fourth total on the Video games. Christophel has reached the Video games as a member of the CrossFit 417 groups that positioned twelfth in 2017 and fifth in 2018.

Adrian Mundwiler

Mundwiler is a veteran staple of the CrossFit community with 4 Video games appearances, together with an eighth-place end on the 2019 Video games. His final Video games look was in 2021, when he positioned thirty fifth after withdrawing on account of an undisclosed harm.

A mixture of varied accidents led to his seventh-place rank on the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown within the Netherlands. The Swiss athlete was in a Video games qualifying spot heading into the ultimate occasion. He earned one other shot at an invitation to the 2022 Video games the LCQ however elected as an alternative to arrange for the 2023 season.

Luka Đukić

Đukić was behind Mundwiler for the ultimate Video games qualifying spot by one level heading into the ultimate occasion of the 2022 Lowlands Throwdown. Nonetheless, a closing occasion win by Germany’s Moritz Fiebig mixed with Đukić’s ninth-place end saved him in sixth total — 13 factors shy of the ultimate Video games spot. 

The youthful brother of Lazar Đukić has made it his mission within the offseason to return to the Video games after debuting on the 2021 Video games at 22 years of age. This offseason, the Serbian saved busy by competing in quite a few competitions, together with his seventh-place finishes on the Madrid CrossFit Championships and Dubai Health Championships.  Đukić additionally gained two competitions within the Center East: the SFA Sandclash in Saudi Arabia and the Valhalla Signature Video games in Kuwait.

Fabian Beneito Selles

After Smith, Selles has had maybe probably the most spectacular offseason, highlighted by his win on the Dubai Health Championship. The Spaniard’s profession has been full of shut misses, particularly within the final two seasons. He has come up brief twice in Semifinals, together with a sixth place on the German Throwdown in 2021. His win in Dubai could possibly be what he must gas his confidence as he seeks his Video games debut.

Jason Smith

Jason Smith has been the usual of what athletes from Africa attempt to be. He’s a three-time Video games athlete, putting Tenth in 2017, the very best end by any athlete from Africa that season. In 2022, Smith missed a Video games journey after putting second within the Fittest in Cape Town Semifinal — an occasion he gained in 2021. At 39 years previous, Smith continues to be a critical contender to return to the Video games.

Scott Tetlow

In 2020 Tetlow got here out of nowhere to earn a Video games invite after he positioned seventeenth within the Open. The Navy veteran positioned seventeenth in his rookie look after two journeys as a person Regionals athlete. Since then the 30-year previous has made it his mission to return, this time to compete in particular person in Madison. Final 12 months he positioned a career-best ninth within the Open however adopted that with a eleventh place end on the Syndicate Crown Semifinal, the identical place he had the prior season on the Granite Video games.

[Related: How to Watch the 2023 CrossFit Open]

Zach Watts

Watts burst onto the Video games scene throughout the 2021 season when he gained the opening occasion of the MACC with a one-rep max snatch of 310 kilos. That occasion propelled the 25-year-old to his first Video games look, the place he positioned thirtieth.

Watts returned to the MACC in 2022 regardless of a tough begin to the season, putting 817th worldwide within the Open. He bounced again with a Seventieth-place worldwide end within the Quarterfinals. Nonetheless, his return to MACC didn’t present finish as he had hoped — he positioned twenty second. His Quarterfinal efficiency suggests he’s not a flash-in-the-pan and he can show as a lot in 2023.

Griffin Roelle

“CrossFit Thor” is one at all times within the dialogue of strongest athletes in CrossFit. The previous collegiate football player made the Video games in 2020, the place he gained the one-rep max front squat occasion with a elevate of 490 kilos — 33 kilos greater than runner-up Christophel.  Roelle completed twenty fifth within the 2020 Video games. Since then, he has seen success within the 2022 Quarterfinals, putting eighth in North America after which seventh on the Syndicate Crown Semifinal.

James Sprague

Sprague joined Roelle on the Video games Demo crew after competing towards him on the Syndicate Crown and the LCQ for one of many closing two 2022 Video games spots. At 20 years previous, Sprague had a banner 12 months in 2022 regardless of developing brief in his Video games bid.

The previous Video games teen alum positioned twenty ninth within the Open and one spot shy of a Video games invite on the Syndicate Crown, the place he ranked sixth. A seventh-place end on the LCQ ended his season.

Jake Berman

The 26-year-old Berman has been competing within the sport since 2011. The 2022 season was his greatest but because it was the closest he got here to creating his Video games debut. He positioned a career-best 18th within the Open after which twenty third within the North America Quarterfinals. That led to his second-straight Semifinal look on the MACC. He completed 12 factors wanting a Video games spot. Within the LCQ, he was one spot and eight factors wanting a Video games invite.

Matt Dlugos

Dlugos falls in that class of athletes who’re searching for their first Video games look. After a sluggish begin on the Granite Video games Semifinal this previous 12 months, he went on a run throughout the closing three occasions, together with a win within the finale. Nonetheless, it wasn’t sufficient. He got here up 4 factors brief and positioned sixth. He moved onto the LCQ however withdrew after struggling a leg harm, ending his bid to compete on the Video games. 

Bayley Martin

Martin is taken into account the way forward for the boys’s area of the Oceania area. The previous Video games teen division alum answered the decision for the second-straight 12 months on the Torian Pro Semifinal. After putting eighth in 2021 as a 21-year-old, he was in a Video games spot after 4 occasions. Nonetheless, he struggled within the closing two occasions and positioned sixth total.

Martin constructed off a career-best 129th rank within the 2022 Open and third-place rank within the Oceania Quarterfinal. His change to Underdogs Athletics for coaching has the New Zealander firmly within the hunt for a Video games spot.

Bronisław Olenkowicz

Olenkowicz appeared on the Video games in 2019, putting forty second total — he didn’t make the lower to show his energy within the one-rep max clean occasion. In 2022, he missed qualifying for the Semifinals. This offseason, Olenkowicz expanded his health by becoming a member of the Underdogs Athletics coaching camp to enhance his engine. If the opposite sides of his recreation catch as much as his energy, he can be value watching within the 2023 European Semifinal he doubtlessly qualifies for.

Ant Hayes

Hayes seeks a return to the Video games after debuting in 2019. China’s most embellished CrossFit athlete can be a favourite to do nicely within the Far East Throwdown Semifinal ought to he get there. With two assured Video games spots on the road and Roman Khrennikov competing within the North America East Semifinal, each spots are up for grabs.

Group Gamers

These two athletes beforehand made the Video games as particular person athletes after which elected to go to the Group division for the 2022 season.

  • Samuel Cournoyer
  • Khan Porter

Samuel Cournoyer

Cournoyer has stood on atop a podium on the Video games as a member of the CrossFit Mayhem crew and helped Rich Froning win his sixth Affiliate Cup trophy with Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson. Already an achieved Particular person athlete with three journeys to the Video games, together with a tenth place end in 2020.

Cournoyer will return to the Particular person division in 2023 to battle Patrick Vellner, Brent Fikowski, and Jeffrey Adler for the title of “Fittest Canadian.”

Khan Porter

Porter has seven profession Video games appearances however hasn’t competed in Madison as an Particular person for the reason that 2018 Video games, although he did compete as an Particular person within the digital 2020 Video games. He positioned twenty sixth. In 2022, he was a member of the star-studded CrossFit Reykjavik crew that positioned fourth on the Video games.

In December 2022, Porter introduced that his return for one final Particular person Video games run in 2023. He’ll compete within the Oceania area that gives three assured Video games spots. In 2022, Porter was in the very best form of his life due to his coach Jami Tikkanen and The Coaching Plan. He’ll return to Iceland after the Open to proceed that coaching underneath his tutelage and practice alongside Annie Thorisdottir, Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson, and Solveig Sigurdardottir.

The Different 

Sam Dancer

Dancer competed on the Video games as an Particular person in 2016 and on a crew in 2018 and 2019. His 2018 crew positioned second to Mayhem Freedom. In 2022, Dancer competed within the 35-39 Masters division on the Video games and positioned Tenth. His Tenth-place exhibiting was a results of withdrawing from competitors after the primary occasion on account of an harm.

Regardless of his harm, Dancer proved he might compete on the identical stage because the elite Particular person athletes. He hinted at a return to Particular person competitors. After a wholesome run at Wodapalooza with a crew, he’ll return to San Diego to coach with the Invictus coaching camp for the 2023 season.

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Featured picture by way of Patrick Clark.

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