One month after Mandi Janowitz started CrossFit for the first time, she registered for the 2012 Open and took 92nd place in the South West Region.
Since then—under the wing of Tommy Hackenbruck, owner and head coach of Ute CrossFit—she has skyrocketed to the top of the Leaderboard for the individual women in the South West.
In 2013, she took sixth in the Open, but decided to compete on a team with the Ute All-Stars. The team went on to take third at the regional and 16th at the CrossFit Games.
This year, Janowitz finished the Open in the No. 1 spot in the South West. She finished top three in four of the Open workouts and ended the Open with just 18 points—43 points ahead of second-place finisher Tiffany Hendrickson.
Janowitz’s quick rise in CrossFit competition is impressive. Before meeting Hackenbruck in 2012, she’d never heard of CrossFit. She was working at the Utah Olympic Oval and was the point of contact for him, who was hosting his event at the venue.
“I thought CrossFit was just a bunch of athletes running outside around the gym,” she said. “I went to the event and the first thing I saw was these women doing butterfly pull-ups and I was hooked.”
“I watched the whole event and emailed Tommy that night and said, ‘Listen, I’m interested. How do I look and move like these strong and incredibly athletic women?’” she continued. “Tommy said, ‘Come to my class on Saturday and I’ll tell you all about it.’”
She showed up and just kept going. Janowitz credited her success to Hackenbruck and her training partners at Ute CrossFit.
“A year training with Hack’s Pack—with Taylor (Richards-Lindsay), Mary (Lampas), Erin (Bennion) and Tommy, it was the push that I needed,” she said. “I was just following the coattails of the team. The programming was fantastic, but the training partners are what really got me going.”
As a heptathlete in college, Janowitz competed in multiple track and field events. She felt a natural transition from track and field to CrossFit.
“Competing in heptathlons, you have the shot-put, you have the javelin, you’re running over hurdles, you’re running the 800 m, you’re high-jumping, you’re long-jumping, so it’s really kind of like what CrossFit is,” she explained. “You’re not good at one specific event but you’re decent at all different events. That really helped me with CrossFit.”
Janowitz went into the 2014 Open committed to team, but after the close of the Open, Hackenbruck encouraged her to compete as an individual.
“I was not expecting to go individual,” she admitted.
“I tried my best to stay on that team side for as long as I could until Tommy gave me the boot and said, ‘You’re going individual,’” she joked.
“Of course, ultimately it was my decision, but Tommy explained that we have the depth in our gym to take three individuals and also have a really solid team, as well,” Janowitz added. “I thought, ‘How cool would that be to be part of a gym that takes three individuals and a team, as well?’ I was onboard after that.”
Hackenbruck’s belief in Janowitz inspired her to focus on getting one of the top three spots to qualify for the CrossFit Games. However, her heart is still with the team.
“We’ll see how this year plays out, but ultimately, I want to be on a winning team,” she said. “I’ve always been more of a team player than the individual. It fires me up a little more going team. But we’ll see after this year. I know there are a lot of talented girls fighting for those top three spots and I’m excited. I am just hoping I’ll be right in the mix with them.”