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Fort Hood comes up short in Ten-Miler quest for Commander’s Cup

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 5:50 pm, Tue Oct 30, 2012.

The Fort Hood Ten-Miler team left with ambitions of winning the Commander’s Cup. So did a number of other Ten-Miler teams from around the world.

Col. Neil Hersey, Fort Hood Ten-Miler team captain and commander of the 21st Cavalry Brigade, said everyone on his team ran as well as or better than expected — most ran personal-bests, he added. They did not return to with Commander’s Cups, though.

The Fort Hood Ten-Miler teams won a pair of first-place division finishes, but finished fifth in both the Active Duty Men’s and Women’s Commander’s Cup standings at the 28th annual Army Ten-Miler race in Washington on Oct. 21.

“That was an extremely competitive category to win,” Hersey said. “You have teams like Fort Carson (Colo.), who get the people just below the world class athlete program level, but they’re still extremely fast. It was that way this year, at least for the men’s category. The women’s category is always very competitive.”

Fort Carson won the Active Duty Men’s Commanders Cup for the first time since 2004 and seventh time overall since the cup was first rewarded to the race’s best teams in 1987. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., snapped a string of four straight Fort Bragg, N.C.-wins by claiming the Active Duty Women’s Commander Cup.

Fort Hood’s active-duty Men’s Master and Mixed Master teams both placed first, but the Commander’s Cup status that they’ve won twice before remains history. Fort Hood won its first Commander’s Cup in 1986 — the final year the award was given to a single team made up of both men and women — and its last in 2007.

“Both (Fort Hood) teams were fifth in their categories,” Hersey said. “There were 35-plus teams in the womens (category) and there were 45 to 50 in the men’s category. I’d say they did very well, it was just that the competition was very intense.”

The Fort Hood Active Duty men’s team finished in three hours, 45.44 seconds, more than 13 minutes off the pace set by Fort Carson (3:32:33). The Fort Hood Active Duty women finished in 4:33:39, 18 minutes off the pace of Lewis-McChord (4:15:01).

But, for the second straight year, the Active Duty Mixed Master’s team from Fort Hood won its division. Led by David Waite, the Mixed team finished first in 4:23:48. The 43-year-old Waite, who placed 401st individually, finished in 1:02:54.

Fort Hood’s Active Duty Men’s Master team also won its division, posting a time of 4:02:50 led by the sub-one hour finishes of Hersey and Walter Johnston. Hersey finished in 56:49 minutes while Johnston finished less than three minutes later in 59:34.

“We had two folks that were under an hour and if you’ve got that in the men’s masters category and the other folks are around an hour or just over it, you’re going to be hard to beat and that’s how we were this year,” Hersey said.

“The fact that we beat Fort Bragg ... that was obviously very important to the commander here at Fort Hood,” Hersey added. “It’s a great, long-time running rivalry between us and Fort Bragg and we beat their masters team. Actually, our open team beat their open team which was not the case last year or the year before, either.”

First Lt. Nicolas Sterghos, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, finished 46th overall in 54.01 minutes and Sgt. Amy Cuellar, 21st Air Cavalry Brigade, finished 819th out of more than 30,000 entrants. She was the 74th woman to finish. Kerri Gallagher was the first woman to cross, 80th overall, in 56 minutes, nine seconds. Tesfaye Senedeku-Alemyehu was the overall women’s winner (47:48) for the second straight year.

“I thought the way we went about organizing and selecting the team this year made a huge difference,” Hersey said. “The fact that the command, early in the process, was committed to fielding the best team they could and gave the resources to allow me to do that — it made a huge difference.”

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