"I ... have learned a tremendous amount just by observing other athletes. Watching others helps me strategize how to break up things the right way, attacking each specific (workout) in a smart way.”
On Wednesday night, Rich Froning and Jason Khalipa went head-to-head on Workout 13.5 in front of 2,000 spectators at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz, Calif.
By the time the clock hit eight minutes Khalipa was out. Froning continued into the next four minutes of thrusters and chest-to-bar pull-ups and finished with a score of 226 reps. He set a formidable score to beat.
Yet, within hours, the fourth-place finisher at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, Scott Panchik, managed to beat the champ by seven reps (233).
It isn’t the first time Panchik beat the champ on some mean twist of Fran. Panchik won Fran at last year’s Games — and that was after completing Elizabeth and Isabel.
Going into the final week of the Open, Panchik was fourth worldwide behind Froning, Mikko Salo and Josh Bridges. After posting his leading score on 13.5, Panchik has jumped to second worldwide, as of publication.
But with many athletes yet to post, and a good bit of the season left, he’s humble.
“This is just one workout of many,” he says.
In his second year as a competitive CrossFitter, Panchik says the Fran-esque workout was right up his alley. After all, he was the guy who won Fran last year in the final event at the Games.
His strategy for this year’s 100-lb. thruster and chest-to-bar pull-up design was simple.
“Stay as calm and relaxed as I could,” he says. “I was really trying to concentrate on breathing.”
While he was a leading competitor last year, Panchik says he’s a completely different athlete now.
“I have really been working on my efficiency this past year and I definitely have felt a difference in all my workouts across the board,” he says.
For instance on 13.3, Panchik scored 300 reps — one full round of Karen, 90 double-unders, 30 muscle-ups, plus 30 more wall balls. In last year’s 12.4, he scored 260 reps, only making it through 20 muscle-ups.
Panchik says the biggest key to improving his efficiency and work capacity this year has been in watching, learning and practicing. He hits the gym, CrossFit Distinction, everyday at 3:30 p.m. And he doesn’t leave until his strength, skill, mobility and of course, workouts, are finished.
“My experience was a weakness that now has become a strength,” he says talking about last year’s Games. “Prior to this year, I was working out completely on my own, no coach, no program — just me, my music and the whiteboard. I also have learned a tremendous amount just by observing other athletes. Watching others helps me strategize how to break up things the right way, attacking each specific (workout) in a smart way.”
For Panchik, the Open is over and he’s thinking about Regionals in Columbus, Ohio.
“I am going to take a few days to relax, but come Monday, it’s time to get to work,” he says. “My main goal is to make it to the CrossFit Games first, and anything after that is just an added bonus. But I know the Central East is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t take anything for granted.”