Cycling event starts five grueling days at the Army Trials

WTU Force Structure U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tiffany Rodriguez-Rexroad, from the Warrior Transition Unit, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, races toward the first turn in the Women's Open Hand Cycle during the Warrior Care and Transition's Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas, April 2. Rodriguez-Rexroad took the gold medal for this category. About 70 wounded, ill and injured active-duty Soldiers and veterans are competing in eight different sports April 2-6 for the opportunity to represent Team Army at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Robert A. Whetstone)

By Wesley Elliott, MEDCOM Public Affairs, and Robert A. Whetstone, Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

FORT BLISS, Texas -- About 80 Soldier and veteran athletes will find out how all their training has paid off during the U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition Army Trials, hosted at Fort Bliss, Texas, April 2-6.

Cycling was the first event of this year's competition. Wounded, ill, and injured athletes have the opportunity to compete in Paralympic-style cycling that is beneficial to their strengths, while modifications reduce the effect of their individual injuries. Categories the athletes participated in were hand cycling; recumbent; and upright. Each category has classes that allow athletes to compete against someone who has a similar injury or illness.

Hand cycling has five different sport classes, designated H1 -- H5. For example: H1 is a class for injured participants with paralysis in all four limbs. H5 are athletes who have generally have use of their upper extremities, but various levels of loss of their lower limbs.

"It was my first time doing [cycling] and a lot of people were telling me I could do this," stated Staff Sgt. (retired) Michael Hemlen, of Killeen, Texas, who earned a gold medal in the men's handcycle 10K-H5.

Recumbent cycle participants have orthopedic disabilities or balance problems that keep them from riding a two-wheel upright bike or hand cycle.

"Jump into cycling, we tell ourselves that other people are stronger and faster than we are, but it is all in your head and you can do more than you thought. Cycling allowed me to prove that," said Hemlen.

Results from the day's cycling event by category:

  • Women's handcycle 10K-H5 -- 1, Stephanie Morris, 00:29:05.80.
  • Women's handcycle 10K-open -- 1, Tiffany Rodriguez, 00:31:56.83. 2, Alteenesel Kendrick, 00:33:38.15. 3, Jodie Lemons, 00:35:19.02.
  • Men's handcycle 10K-H4 -- 1, Jhoonar Barrera, 00:23:47.27.
  • Men's handcycle 10K-H5 -- 1, Michael Helmen, 00:24:22.61. 2, Daniel Dudek, 00:25:29.85. 3, Jerred Vaina, 00:26:24.92.
  • Men's handcycle 10K-open -- 1, David Iuli, 00:26:38.23. 2, Patrick Timmins, 00:26:48.31. 3, Christopher McGinnis, 00:26:59.03.
  • Women's recumbent 10K-open -- 1, Karla Caldera, 00:21:55.23. 2. Heather Moran, 00:23:55.24. 3, Maria Garcia, 00:25:42.56.
  • Men's recumbent 20K-T2 -- 1, James Pradke, 00:48:45.01. 2, Issac Rios, 00:55:36.62. Men's recumbent 20K-open -- 1, David Snypes, 00:40:09.34. 2, Brad Hall, 00:43:55.27. 3. Terrence Young, 00:43:55.55.
  • Women's upright 20K-open -- 1, Megan Grudzinski, 00:44:50.12. 2, Rachel Salemink, 00:50:52.25. 3, Michelle Sanchez, 00:51:18.32.
  • Men's upright 30K-C4 -- 1, Dean Brink, 01:08:05.43.
  • Men's upright 30K-C5 -- 1, Aristoles Colon-Rivera, 01:21:13.53.
  • Men's upright 30K-open -- 1, Kieron Vernon, 00:56:19.34. 2, Earl Ohlinger, 00:56:20.43. 3, Rolando Reyes, 00:58:43.59.

To keep track of all the action and results, follow Army Trials 2017 at:

The compound bow silver medal was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Brian Terry, and the compound bow gold medalist was Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Hammett.

In the recurve bow category, the bronze medal was awarded to Sgt. Andrew Bell. The silver medal was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Erik Acevedo and the gold medalist was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Robert Roberts, III.

"Winning is always a great feeling, but to be a member of this family and a part of this team means the most to me," said Hammett.

To view Army Trials results, go to: