EL PASO, Texas -- About 75 active-duty and veteran Soldiers will go head to head in cycling, swimming, archery, shooting, track and field, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball March 29 to April 2 here to make the Army team to participate during the Department of Defense Warrior Games in June.
As the Texas sun beat down and the wind kicked up, the upright cyclists kicked off the Army Trials, followed by the recumbents and hand cyclists at about 4,000 feet of elevation. During the next several days, the athletes will compete in air pistol, air rifle, recurve, compound bow for archery, track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Returning athlete Sgt. 1st Class Katie Kuiper, an intelligence analyst at Fort Sam Houston, dominated the women's 20KM upright cycling competition with a finishing time of 37:46:06. She took the gold medal last year in the women's upright cycling during last year's Warrior Games. She will also compete in track and field.
She said she feels her chances of making the team are good but that she had some strong competitors. She also said there is a great sense of camaraderie and encourages anybody who is considering trying out next year to give it a shot.
1st Lt. Chris Parks, a physician assistant from Fort Hood, Texas, competed in the hand cycle in cycling and will compete in sitting volleyball.
"There were some really good athletes out there, and I gave it my best shot and that's all you can do," he said.
Medically retired Sgt. Justin Bryant said he was just happy to cross the finish line in the recumbent cycle, but he is confident about his skills on the wheelchair basketball court and with the air rifle.
"They're scouting different kinds of talents, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed," said Bryant with a smile. "I didn't beat my competition, but I gave it a good effort, and I'm happy with it."
The Army Trials, conducted by the Warrior Transition Command, are a component of the Army Warrior Care and Transition Program, focusing on the successful recovery of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers transitioning back to the force or into the civilian community, said Rodney Lamberson, the officer in charge of the Warrior Trials.
Each athlete can compete in up to three events and will compete each day and practice in the other sports daily.
Athletes will not find out if they make the team until weeks later. The coaches and leaders will assess the results and build the most effective team for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games slated for June on Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, Lamberson said.