Don’t Call it a Comeback: Chandler Smith Crushes 2022 Rogue Invitational
“This is like the least deserved video series in history,” Chandler Smith said in the first seconds of the Buttery Bros’ mini-documentary, “In the Arena,” on his 2022 CrossFit Games run through Semifinals.
- “I think the initial interest was because I was poised to do well, and I didn’t do well,” he concluded.
While it’s true, Smith failed to qualify for the CrossFit Games in 2022, it’s safe to say that his comeback campaign was in full swing at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, TX.
Remind me: A name to watch entering Granite Games in 2022, Smith’s season was derailed by a battle with asthma likely caused by pollen in the Upper Midwest air.
- Smith kicked off his comeback tour with a win at the CanWest Games in Coquitlam, British Columbia. He then headed to Austin, TX for the 2022 Rogue Invitational.
A fast start: Smith kicked off the competition with a sixth-place finish in the surprise “Texas Trail,” a 30+-minute trail run event that included a ruck pack and sandbag lifts.
- He then followed up that grueling event by winning his heat of Ski Bar on Friday, which ultimately turned into a second-place finish.
Extra motivation: The heat win in Ski Bar was unique for Smith. The Rogue Invitational marked the first time that his dad, NFL veteran and current Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith, has been in the stands for a CrossFit competition.
- “This is the first event he’s ever seen me compete live,” Smith told MCU’s Lauren Kalil after Ski Bar. “So it was really special to be able to do that with him here.”
- Smith’s weekend continued with some mid-pack finishes, which dropped him in the standings. He took ninth in “Back Attack,” a vicious workout featuring heavy back squats and box jump overs. He then finished 12th in “DT With a Spin” and 16th in “The Turtle.”
By the end of Friday evening, Smith had amassed 275 and was tied for sixth place with Samuel Kwant and 25 points behind a third-place podium position by 25 points.
Moving day: The comeback took a turn midway through Saturday’s schedule. Smith began cranking out top-three finishes, starting with “The Duel II,” and began working his way back up the leaderboard.
- The highlight of the weekend, though, was “Texas Oak.” This lifting event featured the athletes lifting purpose-built metal logs into a front rack position and then getting them overhead with a jerk. The weights increased as the athletes fell out of contention. At the end of the event, there were only two men fighting for the event win.
- Smith and Roman Khrennikov were the only two men that made it to the 300-pound log, handmade by Steve Slater, a veteran Strongman and log lift expert. Smith went first and nailed the lift. He then celebrated by tapping his watch, which was in reference to a child in the stands with a sign reading, “It’s Chandler Time.”
- Khrennikov was unable to complete the 300-pound lift. He had to settle for second while Smith locked up his first event win of the weekend and moved only five points out of a podium spot.
Ending Saturday night on a high note, with an event win, Smith closed out the second-to-last day of the competition in fourth with 490 points, only 5 points out of a podium spot and 40 points behind overall leader, Roman Khrennikov.
The final day: Smith got off to a solid start on the final day of the competition, taking third place in the “Snatch and Press,” a repeat event from 2019 that was a couplet of 100-pound dumbbell snatches and parallette handstand push-ups. Smith finished with a time of 7:55.27, compared to his 2019 finish at 8:56.69 (over a minute improvement).
- “The Goblet” provided Smith with another big opportunity. He was in the first heat, but he posted the 11th-fastest time. He continued to perform consistently while other athletes had some struggles. This includes Roman Khrennikov, who hit the time cap and fell to fifth overall. Smith jumped into third place and set himself up for a podium finish.
Heading into the final event of the competition, Smith was in third place with 630 points, trailing Patrick Vellner who had 650 and Justin Medeiros who had 655. Jeffrey Adler was hot on Smith’s heels with 615.
- Heavy Grace: The final event was a classic CrossFit benchmark, but amplified from 135-pounds to 225-pounds for the men. On tap was 30 Clean and Jerks at that weight.
- Smith, like his fellow competitors, opted for singles during the fast-paced event. He was third-fastest through the first set behind Jeffrey Adler and Roman Khrennikov. Though he lost ground to Vellner during the second set.
- Smith did not give up. He pressed the pace during the final set of clean and jerks, and he finished third overall in the event with a time of 3:43.19. Besting both Medeiros and Vellner who finished fifth and tenth respectively.
The bottom line: In the end, Smith finished second overall against the toughest field in the off season. While Medeiros took his second straight Rogue Invitational victory, Smith’s comeback may be even more impressive.