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What a Difference a Year Can Make

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John Mariotti – 6th Fittest Man on Earth age 55-59

indexThe end of March marks the end of the CrossFit Open 2015. It is a bittersweet time for the most of us around here… the fun of the competition is over, but we are thrilled that we are no longer required to complete these insane workouts once a week! The vast majority of us are done at this point, but the few elite will go on to the next stages – Regionals and Masters Qualifiers. For them, this is just the first step in a long journey that will only get harder from here on out. My partner, John Mariotti, went to the Masters Qualifiers and to the CrossFit Games last year. Believe me when I say that the hard workouts are not over for him – this is when they get crazy hard!

John is going to the Masters Qualifiers again this year, and hopefully to the CrossFit Games. This has been a difficult training year for him complete with a pulled groin, a hurt shoulder, the flu and a broken hand – 5 weeks before the Open began! It is interesting to watch his journey from my point of view – his partner who works out with him every day. He is adamant about his workouts, his nutrition and his therapy. He works out 5-7 days/week. His nutrition is extremely clean and modified Paleo. He also sees an ART/Chiropractor, a massage therapist and does Cryo therapy once a week to help him with recovery. He is laser-focused on going to the CrossFit Games.

Ellie McKenzie (me)
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Jim Roney

As for me, I finished 18th in the South Central Region and 330th in the world for women age 45-49. I turned 45 this year and the new age category actually made that kinda’ awesome! This has been a very difficult year for me. I am a somewhat newly single mother of 3 kids who has a new CrossFit box. Just as John was getting ready to go to the Games last year in California I came down with an epidural abscess – an infection on my spine. The doctors aren’t sure how I got it, but they think it might have been from dental work. I was hospitalized for two weeks and then had a picc line IV with high-intensity antibiotics for another 5-6 weeks. That whole 2 months of my summer seems like a dark fog in my life. I can barely remember a lot of things. When I came out of it, working out was pretty difficult at first. I had to get my body reaccustomed to training and that took a while. When I looked at The CrossFit Open a few months ago it looked hopeless, but I was determined to just do the best I could do. Interestingly enough… I think getting sick made me better. For one thing I was much more determined to be the best person I could be. Nothing like a near-death experience to make you want to live life to its fullest! For another, I was more aware of form than ever – absolutely terrified of tearing my stitches or hurting myself. It forced me to be hyper-aware of my scapulae and keeping them back and keeping my back strong and that helped my performance a lot! When I entered the Open I just wanted to do as well as I did last year, but really I did a little bit better – and I will take that! Next year I am determined to be even better… and by golly I WILL have muscle ups by then!

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Larry Harrington

We have several other people at the box who competed this year as well, some for the first time and some a repeat. Jim Roney, the Strength and Conditioning Coach at ESD, had his 2nd attempt this year and came in 66th in the region for men 45-49 even though he got very sick right in the middle of the Open and it drastically affected two of his workouts.

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Eric Beichler

Larry Harrington also had his second try and came in 88th in the region for men 50-54. Last year Larry had a very hard time getting scores due to mobility. He actually scored 2 points on 14.2 because the overhead squats were so difficult – and he worked on them ALL weekend before he earned that score of 2. But after a year of working on those movements he scored a 39 on the same movements in 15.2! That is a HUGE improvement!

Eric Beichler tried the Open for the first time last year but got hurt in the middle. He had back surgery and then returned to working out way too soon. He finally listened to his trainers and his doctors and went back into surgery. This time he took it very slowly and worked with his PT and has slowly made it back to a great place. We were all very hesitant to allow him to enter the Open at all, but he promised not to over-do it and since there was a scaled division we all knew he could take it a lot easier. For him, this was not about winning, but about getting back into the game. We were really worried about that max clean in the first workout because he has a very competitive spirit, but he took it easy and decided beforehand that he was only going to lift a weight that he had lifted easily before and call it quits. Smart move! He did a great job in every workout until 15.5 with heavy thrusters. He knew that heavy overhead movements were going to be hard on his back and combining that with rowing and high reps, he decided not to complete it. I was really proud of him for doing that. It’s hard to bow out of a competition when you get yourself all excited, but he had the big picture in mind and was smart… and I would keep an eye out for him next year!

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David Savage

David Savage tried the Open for the first time this year. His fitness has improved enormously since he began CrossFit and he is loving it. He was out of town for 15.3 so he wasn’t able to get a ranking, but he gave all he had every single workout and he did a great job!

Ben Scarbro (and Lincoln)

Ben Scarbro has had a few runs at the CrossFit Open and is a part-time coach for us here at CrossFit Odyssey. This year he has had a few injuries, plus a new baby a new house and a new job. Needless to say the guy is busy and dealing with a lot this year. He did the Open for fun and to keep measuring his fitness so that he can stay strong for his beautiful wife and his new baby boy.

Andrea Reich is a single mom and she tried the Open for the first time this year. She hasn’t been doing CrossFit very long but she did a great job in the Open and if she keeps it up, this is someone you should keep your eye on! Andrea finished 182nd in the South Central Region for women 45-49. She has an incredible metabolic engine and she is incredibly strong, so if she sets her sights on getting mobile and reaching goals, you can expect her to achieve great things!

Andrea Reich
Andrea Reich

Whitney Reichland is studying full time at SMU to be a dietician and has a crazy school schedule. She is also helping out a few of our clients with their weightloss here at Odyssey. This was her first time to do the Open and she finished 3061 for Individual women in the South Central Region, but she has only been doing CrossFit for about 2 months! She has an incredible engine (she scored 950 in 15.3 scaled!) and she is built to get strong, so expect great things from this girl!

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Whitney Reichland


Sarah Peltier is getting married NEXT WEEK! She has been crazy busy with wedding planning but she really wanted to see where her fitness ranked in the world of CrossFit. Sarah is a spunky young thing and not afraid of heavy weight or challenging herself. She wasn’t able to get her last workout in, so she doesn’t have a ranking, but she gave it her all in every single WOD and she set a great example!

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Sarah Peltier

Scott Knowles has recently lost quite a bit of weight (20 lbs!) and came in 357th in the South Central Region for men age 45-49. Scott is the busy father of two boys, Cal and Maguire – and Maguire also entered the Open for teens age 16-17. Maguire wasn’t able to complete 15.3 because he was out of town, so he doesn’t have a ranking, but he got his first handstand pushups and tested himself in ways he had never tried before. They wanted something they could do together to check out how fit they are. Scott plays on a soccer league and Maguire plays football so they are both very active guys – always trying to get better!

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Scott Knowles
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Maguire Knowles


Finally, our youngest competitor was Ashley Williamson, a student at Dallas TAG. Ashley is only 14 years old and 5’2″, but she has incredible natural movement with Olympic lifting and she is one tough little cookie! If I can convince this little firecracker to enjoy this stuff and get better at it, she will soar! She is very strong and and coordinated and capable, so expect great things from her! Her dad, Mark, was going to attempt the Open as well, but he has a back problem that has been bothering him, so he is taking a break for a while.


Ashley Williamson
Ashley Williamson

Congratulations to all of our shining athletes – you did something hard! Not only were you willing to enter a competition with some of the greatest athletes on Earth, but you were willing to put it all out there for the world to see. That alone is a difficult thing to do. Then you completed some of the hardest workouts we do in CrossFit! And you CRUSHED each and every one of them! I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring. Who knows, maybe someone else will get to join John at the Games in 2016?

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