By U.S. Army
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — Warrior Transition Battalion-Hawaii, known as WTB Hawaii, officiated the closing ceremony for the 2018 Pacific Regional Trials, a 10-day adaptive sports competition, held at Weyand Field, Nov. 16.
The multi-sporting event brought together nearly 100 wounded warrior athletes representing 12 WTBs from across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Central regions, to participate in 11 sports: archery, cycling, shooting, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and new events this year, wheelchair tennis, indoor rowing, powerlifting and golf.
“A few weeks ago you were welcomed here as part of the opening ceremony with a Ha’a, or war dance, of the Polynesian warrior culture,” said Col. Trevor J. Walker, deputy commander, 25th Infantry Division (New Zealand). “It seems only right that the closing ceremony continues that same Polynesian theme ... and as somebody born and raised in Polynesia, I am most comfortable with this.”
Walker was the guest speaker for the ceremony and recited a Polynesian warrior chant spoken in Maori, the native language of New Zealand, followed with a translation acknowledging the “warrior spirit” and the spirit of the “games.”
Adaptive sports are essential in helping recovering soldiers and veterans come to terms with wounds, injuries or illness, and understand recovery is achievable by focusing on ability rather than inability.
To the competitors, Walker said, “I thank you for showing your spirit, your dedication, your service and sacrifice ... in what Theodore Roosevelt in his great speech on human endeavor called ‘The Arena’ said, ‘Your place is assuredly not with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. You all have faced great personal and individual battles, and have more to face.’”
During the Trials, athletes were classified based on their functional abilities per the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games and the World Para Athletics classification system.
The individual sports competitions include separate events for each classification category. For team sports, classification categories also come into play as part of the rules of the game.
The wheelchair tennis competition took place on Nov. 6 with eight two-person teams organized by regions, including two veteran-only teams. The teams competed in a best two of three single elimination format and a best three of five for third place and the championship.
Regional Health Command Atlantic (RHC-A) team of Sgt. 1st Class Shannon McLimans and Sgt. Johnathan Weasner won the championship match over another RHC-A team of Sgt. 1st Class Ian Crawley and Spc. Zachary Owens, three games to two.
The fourth competitive event of the Trials featured another first-time event. Thirty-two athletes competed in four weight classes for men and three for women in adaptive Powerlifting.
Five female athletes were awarded medals in three different weight classes. Spc. Taylor Ingle from WTB Hawaii won gold in the 55.01 to 67 kilogram category. In the 67.01 to 86 kg weight class, Spc. Kaylor Ketron, also WTB Hawaii, won the bronze, Capt. Casey Turner from the Fort Bragg WTB won silver and Pfc. Nakita Bowen from the Fort Drum WTB won gold. In the 86.01 and up category, Staff Sgt. Katherine Young from the Fort Bragg WTB earned the gold medal.
In the male category, up to 72 kg, Spc. Weston Stevens from the Fort Campbell WTB won the bronze, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Sites from the Fort Bragg WTB won silver and Sgt. Johnathan Weasner from the Fort Campbell WTB won gold. In the 72.01 to 88 kg category, Sgt. Ricardo Berry from the Fort Hood WTB won bronze, Sgt. Jose Gullien Verde from the Fort Stewart WTB earned silver and Staff Sgt. Paul Reifke from the Fort Belvoir WTB won gold. In the 88.01 to 107 kg category, U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Jerome Faasu won bronze, Sgt. Shawon Nelson from the Fort Belvoir WTB won silver and Spc. Alexander Herrera from the Fort Drum WTB won the gold. In the 107 kg and up category, U.S. Army veteran Spc. Ulukita won silver and Staff Sgt. Samuels Daniels, a 2018 Warrior Games participant, won the gold.
Following the Trials, the coaches and staff evaluate the results and select the top athletes to progress to the 2019 Army Trials, the pre-qualifying event for the 2019 DoD Warrior Games.