Pride. Dedication. Joyfulness.
After the final event of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Scott Panchik said these are the three words he would use to describe his career.
At the start of this year’s Games, Panchik announced on Instagram, “10 years and I’ve saved the best for last. This will be my FINAL ride.”
The outpouring of love and support that followed was a testament to how much Panchik has accomplished as well as how much he has inspired others over the course of his long career as a CrossFit Games competitor.
It is also a testament to Panchik’s magnetism and strength of character, both of which have garnered him more than a few fans over the years. And whether he’s executing an Olympic lift with expert precision, doling out advice to the young bucks in the sport, or just having a good time with other athletes, he’s always a joy to watch.
On Sunday, Aug. 1, Panchik added one final notch to his weight belt and received the Spirit of the Games Award.
As GM of Training and Education Nicole Carroll wrote for the speech accompanying the award, Panchik “has not only been wowing fans for 10 years but ... is also a coach and a role model — giving as much to the athletes in his gym and the next generation of competitors as he does on the competition floor.”
Panchik “holds himself to the highest standard, all while acting with kindness and integrity and always seeking to make a positive impact on those around him,” Carroll continued.
Here are just a few highlights from the illustrious career of an incredible athlete and damn good human.
Panchik joined the CrossFit competition circuit in 2012, when he made a big entrance in the worldwide Open by tying for a win in the first event, 7 min. of burpees — one of CrossFit’s truest tests of grit.
Panchik went on to take 27th overall, which he followed up with a fifth-place finish at the Central East Regional. The few athletes ahead of him ended up doing all right in the sport: Marcus Hendren, Graham Holmberg, Dan Bailey, and Rich Froning.
Fewer people stood ahead of him in the next stage of competition. He took fourth place at the Games that year, behind Froning, Matt Chan, and Kyle Kasperbauer. Bailey, Hendren, and Holmberg now were eating his chalk dust, in sixth, seventh, and 10th, respectively.
In 2013, Panchik took fourth in the Open and second at the Central East Regional.
He once again earned fourth place at the Games, this time while fighting through a torn bicep and labrum injury that eventually required surgery.
That year, CrossFit held an affiliate gathering in Big Sky, Montana, and there, despite his injury, Panchik PR’d his snatch. While he successfully snatched 245 lb. at Regionals in 2012, he tacked on another 40 and launched 285 this time, reaching for the Big Sky indeed.
In 2014, Panchik made an even more important launch: opening CrossFit Mentality with his dad, Dave, in Mentor, Ohio. Living up to his hometown’s name, there Panchik, a CF-L2 trainer, became a mentor and coach to other athletes seeking improved fitness and health.
Meanwhile, he managed to anchor himself toward the top of the leaderboard for the duration of the CrossFit Games season, taking fifth in the Open, second out of the Central East, and fifth at the Games.
He also won the Team Series competition alongside Ben Smith, Stacie Tovar, and Emily Bridgers — no big deal.
Panchik won his first individual competition in 2015, taking the top of the podium at the Central Regional ahead of Jacob Heppner and Alex Anderson in second and third, and also another athlete by the name of Saxon Panchik — maybe you’ve heard of him. He took fifth at this year’s Games.
Scott held his win at the Central Regional in 2016. He also won the Team Series again with Smith, Tovar, and Bridgers.
In 2017, he took on a new challenge and participated in the CrossFit Invitational, representing the U.S. alongside Noah Ohlsen, Tennil Reed-Beuerlein, and Kari Pearce.
In 2018, Panchik had the lowest Games finish of his career — 11th place, which is actually really good when you think about it.
And he rebounded hard in 2019 when, at the age of 31, a hard-fought battle brought him through the final cuts and landed him back in the top 10. Following an electrifying showdown with Mat Fraser in the clean event, Panchik once again found his way to fourth place overall.
And this year’s climb was perhaps made sweeter by the fact that he was joined in the top 10 by Saxon, who had made his Games debut the year before.
Panchik kicked off his 2020 season by going head-to-head with Rich Froning in Rogue’s announcement of Open Workout 20.1.
Thankfully, there was no bad blood between the two, as Panchik later planned to join Froning on CrossFit Mayhem’s team at the Games. The plan was eventually derailed when the pandemic led to the cancellation of the Affiliate Cup, but the experience wasn’t without its rewards.
“I knew I got better as an athlete working with them,” Panchik said of his time working with the Mayhem crew.
In October of 2020, Panchik welcomed his first child, Kinsley Francis.
“Ever since I had a child, a little girl … I’ve been just so emotional,” Panchik said. “In years past and even growing up … I always would see that as, like, more of a weakness. And (now) I see that as a strength. That is something that I want my daughter to see.”
This year, at the age of 33, Panchik earned his all-time best finish in the Open. He then went on to crush the newest stage of the competition season, the Individual Quarterfinal, where, as CrossFit Games statistician Chad Schroeder noted, Panchik had the best overall performance out of all the Semifinal qualifiers in a cross-continental comparison.
Panchik managed to hold onto 11th place at the Games despite dealing with some knee pain during the competition.
A true competitor to his core, he admitted he was proud of his performance but wanted more out of the weekend.
“It's not positionally where I wanted to be when I left,” he confessed of his finish, but he also noted, “This is the fittest I've ever been.”
“I'm really proud of everything that I've accomplished,” Panchik continued. “I've been fitter every year. It's been a lot of fun. It's been really hard. I don't think people realize that, just how hard it is to go into the gym and evolve as the sport’s evolved.”
Now that he is ready to retire from competition, Panchik looks forward to focusing more on his affiliate and his family.
“I feel really blessed to get in there each and every day and pour my heart and soul into those people,” Panchik said.
“I’m ready to dedicate time to my family, my friends. … because they've just dedicated the last 10 years of their life to me.”
Cover photo by Michael Brian
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