February 20, 2013
New Game Plan: Scott Panchik
By Lauryn Lax

“I’ve learned that when it comes to competition, I don’t need to focus on everyone else around me. I have my own game plan now, and I am ready.”


Scott Panchik finished fourth at last year’s CrossFit Games, yet the 25-year-old says he’s only been doing CrossFit “the right way” for the past eight months.

“I had never worked with a coach or set foot in a box,” Panchik says about his training prior to 2012.

Before qualifying for last year’s Regional, Panchik trained diligently in the gym at a high school in Mentor, Ohio, where he worked as a health teacher and coach. He says he didn’t have high expectations when he decided to do the Open.

“I really just wanted to see how I did, so I put in a lot of late nights, especially during football season,” he says. “Typically after practice, I’d get in there around 7:30 or 8 p.m. It would just be me, my music and whatever I wrote up on the whiteboard.”

Panchik was first introduced to CrossFit by his dad in the summer of 2010. An athlete all his life, Panchik was instantly intrigued.

“I started implementing CrossFit workouts into my training during my last year of college football,” he says. “I basically would just look up different WODs and programs online, and try to do the hardest ones I could find every day. I was all over the place.”

Panchik’s natural athletic ability and competitiveness delivered. But as he began to prepare for Regionals, he felt like he was missing something.

“I began to realize if I wanted to do well, I needed a coach,” he says. “All these other great Games athletes had coaches, and I did not.”

Panchik began researching affiliates in the Mentor area, and came across CrossFit Distinction.

“Travis Page, one of the co-founders, had competed in the Open and Regionals before,” Panchik says. “He and his wife, Regina, instantly made me feel like family. They said they’d help me with my programming and told me that I had a home.”

Page says he knew Panchik had great potential right away.

“When Scott first came in, he was very, very green. Since he is a genetic born freak, very athletic and super strong, he was able to beat even the above-average athletes in his WODs, but he had absolutely no technique at all,” Page says.

With only one month to prepare for the Central East Regional, Page says he made the best use of their time together through working on gymnastics and skills, such as handstand push-ups and double-unders.

Panchik learned a lot about his strengths and weaknesses during the Games and he used that to fuel his training this year.

“The toughest WOD was parallette handstand push-ups and ground-to-shoulder with the med balls, because I did not really know how to kip,” he says. “And picking up the med ball efficiently was something very new to me.”

He credits much of his success to his fourth-place finish in Pendleton 2, and his first-place finish on Fran at the end of the Games weekend.  

Panchik recently stepped down from his role as football coach at Mentor High School. He’s focusing his extra energy on training.

“I love coaching. It’s something I always wanted to do, but I figured that the opportunity to compete at a high level in CrossFit may not always be there,” he says.

Now, Panchik spends four hours a day, six days a week improving his game at CrossFit Distinction. He pays special attention to skill work such as Olympic lifts, and mobility is addressed daily.

Devoting more time to training has paid off.

Panchik’s one-rep-max snatch is 270 lb., (up from 245). He has also managed to shave more than a minute off his Diane time — 3:45 to 2:36. Recently, he re-tested Open Workout 12.4: 12-minute AMRAP of 150 wall balls, 90 double-unders and 30 muscle-ups.

“I didn’t even finish a whole round last year,” he says. “I got up to 21 muscle-ups. Just the other week, I got through one full round and 14 wall balls,” he says.

Page is convinced Panchik will do better in 2013.

“Scott placed very high last year, with little time spent training and preparing for the biggest competition in CrossFit,” Page says. “Now, with some solid training and technique under his belt, I think it’s going to be scary what he is capable of this year.”

Panchik adds that last year his biggest weakness was experience. Now, he feels his experience has taught him a valuable lesson.

“I’ve learned that when it comes to competition, I don’t need to focus on everyone else around me,” he says. “I have my own game plan now, and I am ready.”