The CrossFit Games “The Madison Era”: 15-6 Men’s Rankings

December 27, 202311 min read

Picking up where we left off on the men’s rankings during the “Madison Era” of the CrossFit Games, this is the second in a three part series of articles ranking the Top -30 men from that seven year stretch. 

Madison Era Men 30-16

*Note: These are my personal rankings. Thursday on the B.Friendly Fitness Podcast I will be joined by John Young of JY Barbell Club, who has made his own rankings for a debate in which we will attempt to compromise where we have differences amongst our rankings. 

15. Saxon Panchik

Saxon Panchik Games 2022 4 copy
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 5 Appearances
  • Best: 5th – 2021
  • Average Finish: 13
  • Event Wins: 2 (Up and Over 2022, Sprint 2019)

Most of the men in the top-15 check to the two primary boxes I look for when ranking these athletes: consistent ability to qualify, and high level performance more often than not when they do. Saxon had qualified for the Games for five-straight years (2018-2022) with really strong finishes of fifth in 2021 and 11th in 2022. He was also ninth in 2019, which holds stronger than other athletes who have their only top-10 appearance from that season. His other two finishes were 19th (2018 as a rookie) and 21st (2020 online Stage 1). 

14. Cole Sager

Cole Sage Games 2018 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 7 Appearances
  • Best: 7th – 2018
  • Average Finish: 16.4
  • Event Wins: 2 (Pegboard-DB Overhead Squat-DU 2021, Battleground 2018)

Sager is the lowest ranking male on the list who qualified every year during this era. His best finish, and only top ten finish, in Madison was seventh in 2018. He had been stringing together consistent performances in the mid teens in the other traditional years (16th in 2017, 14th in 2021, 13th in 2022) before having a dramatic drop off to 34th last year. During the strange years he was 11th in 2019 and 20th online in 2020. Sager is a stalwart and fixture in the men’s field at the Games, he just didn’t have enough top-ten finishes to place higher than the rest. 

13. Lazar Đukić

Lazar Dukic Games 2022 1 copy
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 3 Appearances
  • Best: 8th – 2022
  • Average Finish: 8.7
  • Event Wins: 2 (Jackie Pro 2022, Run-Toes to Bar 2021)

It’s hard to be more consistent than Lazar Đukić. After declining his invite in 2019 as national champion of Serbia, he made his debut at the Games in 2021 and placed ninth. In the two seasons since, he’s been eighth (2022) and ninth again (2023). During that stretch he’s logged two event wins (Run / toes to bar in 2021, and Jackie Pro in 2022). Making the Games three-straight years is difficult for most, making the top-ten every time, that much harder – and that’s what Đukić has managed to do. 

12. Scott Panchik

Scott Panchik Games 2021 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 4 Appearances
  • Best: 4th – 2019
  • Average Finish: 8
  • Event Wins: 2 (Wall Walk-Thruster and Handstand Walk 2021)

Scott missed the 2020 online Games (electing to join the Mayhem Independence team), but he was there the three years prior, as well as in 2021 and never had a bad performance. Sixth in 2017, 11th in 2018, fouth in 2019, 11th in 2021 (on one knee) are all testaments to the excellent career we know Scott has amassed. Despite having a clear knee injury in 2021, he notched his only two event wins during that year – wall walk/thruster and handstand walk. 

11. Ricky Garard

Ricky Garard Games 2022 1112
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 1 Appearance
  • Best: 3rd – 2022
  • Average Finish: 3
  • Event Wins: 1 (Bike to Work and Capitol, 2022)

Has to be the most difficult person on the list to know what to do with. He was at the Games in 2017, but his performance was wiped from the record books after failing his drug test. He returned in 2022 and placed 3rd and then missed the 2023 Semis due to an injury sustained while mountain biking. Just like he had in the forgotten year, he claimed two events wins in his “second rookie” year in 2022 (Bike to Work, Capitol). He’s clearly amongst the fittest men on earth right now but he has by far the least data of any person on this list. Basically, I couldn’t justify putting him in the top ten with only one year, but I wanted to recognize how good he is, and as John Young told me “you can’t write the book of the Madison Era without Ricky in it.” 

10. Jonne Koski

Jonne Koski Games 2021 copy
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 6 Appearances
  • Best: 6th – 2021 and 2023
  • Average Finish: 13.3
  • Event Wins: 2 (Ride 2023, Swim-Kayak 2021)

Koski was at every CrossFit Games during the “Madison Era” except 2018. He’s had four top tens during that time: ninth in 2017, seventh online in 2020, and sixth in both 2021 and 2023. In 2022 he had an unusually bad finish of 15th, and in the cuts year of 2019 he was 37th. Koski is amongst the most consistent qualifiers, and high performers, and although he doesn’t have that elusive top five or podium finish yet, he feels like a safe pick to start our top-10 countdown for the “Madison Era”.

9. Samuel Kwant

Samuel Kwant Games 2022 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 5 Appearances
  • Best: 2nd – 2020
  • Average Finish: 10.8
  • Event Wins: 1 (Swim N Stuff 2020)

Kwant is yet another tough case. Five qualifications during this time, and two very impressive finishes on paper: fourth place in 2022 holds without question, and the second place amongst the five men who made stage two in 2020. Although the field was small that year, he beat Noah Ohlsen, and we knew how good he was then; and he also beat Justin Medeiros and Jeffrey Adler, who we weren’t quite sure how good they were yet. All of those men are on this list ahead of him, so it’s difficult not to count that as a very impressive feat. In his other three appearances during this era he was 20th in 2017, 13th in 2019, and 15th in 2023. He’s been known for the up and down year-to-year, but his ups are really high, and his downs aren’t necessarily that low. 

8. Roman Khrennikov

Roman Khrennikov Games 2023 11111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 3 Appearances
  • Best: 2nd – 2022
  • Average Finish: 6
  • Event Wins: 5 (Pig Chipper, Alpaca Redux 2023, Rinse N Repeat, Alpaca 2022, 1000 meter row 2020)

The story of Khrennikov’s journey to get to the Games is well known, and his performances once making it are unquestioned. Prior to taking second in 2022 and third in 2023, he technically has a 13th from 2020 online Games, making it three of seven appearances during the eligible era. The thing is, he’s clearly been one of the two fittest men the past two years (a broken foot is the only reason he didn’t finish first or second in 2023). If he’d not broken his foot and won this past summer, he could arguably be a few spots higher, but injury is part of sport, and the results are what they are. 

7. Jeffrey Adler

Jeffrey Adler Games 2023 1111
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
  • 5 Appearances
  • Best: 1st – 2023
  • Average Finish: 11.4
  • Event Wins: 6 (Helena, Muscle-Up Logs 2023, Shuttle to Overhead B, Back Nine 2022, Clean Ladder-Run 2021, CrossFit Total 2020)

Adler is the man who did end up winning the 2023 CrossFit Games, and although it’s his only podium finish, it’s his fifth straight trip to the Games, and he’s been pretty solid across the board. Being a rookie in 2019 was tough as he only got four tests and we didn’t get to learn a ton about him. The next season he snuck into Stage 2 and finished last of the five men there, so on paper that 5th is a little misleading. Since then he’s gone 13th, fifth and first – placements that track with the clear improvements he’s been making. There are a lot of men in history who have managed to make the top ten multiple times and never seen a podium, let alone the top of it. Some might say that win warrants even higher placement, but man, it gets really tough from here! 

6. Noah Ohlsen

Noah Ohlsen Games 2019 1111
Image Credit: Athlete’s Eye
  • 7 Appearances
  • Best: 2nd – 2019
  • Average Finish: 7.7
  • Event Wins: 2 (Handstand Hold 2020, Mary 2019)

Ohlsen is one of four men in the top six who were at every CrossFit Games during the “Madison Era”. He’s had four top-six finishes during this stretch, two of them coming during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. His only podium was a second place in 2019, he was fourth in both 2018 (full field) and 2020 (out of five in Stage 2), and sixth in 2018. The past three years have only been bad compared to what he’s done before: 10th in 2021, 12th in 2022, 16th in 2023. It was tempting to put Ohlsen in the top-5, but his two best years came during the two years I just can’t weigh as heavily as the men ahead of him have stronger performances in more difficult years to yield top five finishes.

Ranks 5-1 will be coming out tomorrow. 

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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