Powerlifting: Another first for Pacific Regional Trials
By Lee M. Packnett, Warrior Care and Transition

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hi. - The fourth competitive event of the Pacific Regional Trials featured another first time event. Thirty-two athletes seeking to earn a trip to the 2019 Army Trials competed in four weight classes for men and three for women in Adaptive Powerlifting, one of the nine individual sports Soldiers and Veterans are participating in.

According to Adaptive Sports USA, Powerlifting has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1964. It was included for the first time at the 2018 Army Trials and Department of Defense Warrior Games. Powerlifting for athletes with disabilities involves the discipline of the bench press. On an adapted competition bench, competitors must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless on the chest, and then press it upwards to arms' length with locked elbows. Athletes are given three attempts, and the athlete who lifts the highest amount of weight is declared the winner. In cases where two or more lifters in a weight category achieve the same lift weight, the person with the lightest actual bodyweight wins.

Once participants are strapped in, they are given three commands by the head judge: "start", "press", and "rack". Here at Regional Trials, once the command "start" is given, words of encouragement are screamed and yelled by other participants and onlookers. The crowd grew larger and larger as the sounds of excitement could be heard throughout the open-air facility at the Schofield Barracks Martinez Physical Fitness Center.

Five female athletes were awarded medals in three different weight classes. Spc. Taylor Ingle from the Schofield Barracks Warrior Transition Battalion won gold in the 55.01 to 67 kilogram category. In the 67.01 to 86 kg weight class, Spc. Kaylor Ketron, also from the Schofield Barracks WTB, 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.

Pfc. Bowen, a Food Service Specialist from Syracuse, New York who will transition out the Army and return to college due to her injury, stated that she believed she could have lifted more than her maximum lift of 110 pounds. "I know I could have done more because of my competitiveness," she added.

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 GullienVerde 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. Ulu Kita won silver, and Staff Sgt. Samuels Daniels, a 2018 Warrior Games participant, won the gold.

Sgt. Ricardo Berry, an Air Defense Battle Management System Operator who is on track to return to duty next year after recovering from an Achilles tendon tear and type 2 diabetes, says that the Adaptive Reconditioning Program was very helpful in his recovery and it will be an honor for him to represent his unit at Army Trials and the DOD Warrior Games.

Army Trials demonstrates the importance of the Warrior Care and Transition Program in the recovery and transition of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.