Men’s Field in North America East Semifinal Hit With Withdrawals
Saturday in Orlando has proven to be an especially tough day for the male field at the North America East Semifinal. The men’s field has been riddled with withdrawals, and here is the latest.
Going into Day 2 for the Individuals, we learned that Griffin Roelle had withdrawn from the North America East Semifinal overnight. Roelle took to Instagram to inform the community.
- Griffin Roelle: “I’m not an overly emotional person, but this one stings. On Event 2, I pulled a muscle on one of the pistols…I’ll be back, I’m not done. Hard work pays off…but not always the way you think it does.”
Roelle finished last season with a 12th-place finish in the Last Chance Qualifier.
Triforce CrossFit athlete Mark Hutchinson also withdrew after event 2. Hutchinson was competing at this week’s Semifinal on the heels of finishing 24th in the 35-39-year-old Age Group Semifinal.
Just before the combo of events 4 and 5, it was announced that Saxon Panchik would not be on the floor in heat 4 with his brother Spencer, withdrawing from the competition. 2022 was a big year for Saxon, he had won the Open and the MACC, and he rode that momentum into the 2022 CrossFit Games, finishing in 11th place.
He entered the 2023 season looking to build and was showing promise to do so, training with the PRVN crew and finishing 18th worldwide in the 2023 Individual Quarterfinals.
Prior to Test 4, the medical team was seen wrapping up Saxon’s left foot in the athlete warm-up area, and no doubt the amount of running in these two tests impacted Saxon’s choice to withdraw. Saxon’s highest finish of the weekend was 21st place in Test 2.
Connor Duddy also withdrew prior to event 4. Duddy had worked his way into Heat 5 with his best weekend finish in event 2–he finished 9th.
Shortly after learning about Roelle, Alexandre Caron also took to social media to explain his withdrawal.
- Alexandre Caron: “30 minutes before my heat this morning I was taken away from my warm-up to be told that CrossFit was taking me out of the competition based on ‘what they saw yesterday.’ They told me that my “effort” during the muscle up event was not good enough for a Semifinal athlete and that I clearly had an advantage over my competitors for the rest of the weekend from not doing any repetition in that workout (and getting 59th place).”
Caron reveals he had torn his pec practicing the muscle-up complex with a 20# ruck on Monday.
Foxall completed Friday at the North America East Semifinal and was forced to withdraw after event 2. He revealed on social media that his reason was similar to Caron’s.
- Korby Foxall: “I hurt my shoulder on the muscle-ups a week ago, did one complex on the rings, and asked if it would be good enough to stay in the competition for the rest of the weekend. 15 mins prior to my heat (Test 3), CrossFit had a meeting and told me that I had an unfair advantage based on the work I didn’t do in Test 2 and the events that were coming up.”
CrossFit responded to the withdrawals of Caron and Foxall Saturday afternoon. After assessing the athletes’ situation with preexisting injuries prevented them from being able to perform the ring complex, the two men were withdrawn from the competition.
- CrossFit General Manager of Sport Justin Bergh: “My heart goes out to both Alex and Korby. There’s nothing we enjoy about having to make these decisions, but there’s no way, in good conscience, that we could let any athlete with an injury move on and compete in a benchmark workout like Linda.”
- “Injuries are one of the hardest parts of sports. We strive to bring the best medical care to athletes during competition and to ensure a fair competition for the full field of athletes. Each stage of competition is intended to be completed in its entirety, and it’s obviously a disappointing outcome for all of us when an injury prevents an athlete from being able to showcase what they’ve trained so hard for.”
At the mandatory athlete briefing prior to the start of the North America East Semifinal, the athletes would have heard:
- “While there are no minimum work requirements at this competition, athletes are expected to put forth an effort to complete each test throughout the duration of their respective heat. In the case of injury — whether preexisting or experienced during competition — any athlete who is unable to finish an event or requires medical attention following an event must receive clearance from 1) CrossFit’s medical staff and 2) CrossFit’s Head Judge prior to returning to competition.
- “CrossFit’s Head Judge has the authority to remove any athlete from competition based on injury severity, likelihood of further injury, and/or other factors that could impact the health and safety of an athlete or the integrity of the competition. If an athlete misses part of, or the entirety of, an event while receiving medical treatment or assessment, the athlete will not be allowed to return to the competition.”
Reactions from the community have been strong.
Pat Vellner: “As an athlete who has rallied from many bottom finishes in my career and also who competed in 2016 with a torn muscle, this bugs me a lot. We need better objective criteria for this kind of thing.”