Navy's Hooker, Army women dominate stormy Armed Forces Triathlon

By Gary Sheftick | Army News Service / Defense Media Activity | June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 --

Navy Lt. Kyle Hooker led the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship all the way to finish his run in a torrential downpour with a combined time of 1:51:24 in Hammond, Indiana, June 7.

In team competition, the Navy and Air Force both finished the race with 50 points, but a tiebreaker based on each team's seventh runner (who doesn't normally count), put the Airmen in first place.

The Army women nearly swept their competition, placing three of the top four finishers. Army 2nd Lt. Samone Franzese, a medical student, finished first with a time of 2:13:15.

"I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and I have found that I race well in rain," Franzese said. "The weather probably helped my performance."

HOOKER LEADS PACK

Navy P-2 pilot Hooker from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, led the race from the beginning, finishing his 1500-meter swim in just 17:46. 

The Army's Capt. Nicholas Sterghos from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was 53 seconds behind on the swim and finished the triathlon second with an overall time of 1:52:50.

Army 2nd Lt. Gene Barrett LeHardy, from Fort Eustis, Virginia, finished in third place overall with a time of 1:53:04, a personal best.

"But Kyle Hooker owned the race," LeHardy said.

Hooker biked the 40 kilometers in 58:02, one second slower than Sterghos and LeHardy, who both finished their laps around the lake in 58:01 -- but of course Hooker was still well out in front.

Hooker said being out front in the gusting winds took somewhat of a toll on him.

"The bike ride was the hardest part," he said, explaining that when heading into the southerly winds, he was biking up to 10 miles slower than when pedaling north.

"I was getting more tired than the pack behind us," Hooker said.

He jumped off the bike, however, to run the fastest 10 kilometers of his career at 34:46. 

"It was a really good race for me," Hooker said.

"Hammond was certainly one of my better competitions," said LeHardy, whose placement earned him a first-time spot on the Armed Forces Triathlon Team, which will compete at the Military World Games later this year in South Korea.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Cody Bohachek of Fort Wayne, Indiana, finished the triathlon fourth with a time of 1:54:23; Ensign Clay Petty of the U.S. Naval Academy, finished fifth at 1:55:24; and Air Force Maj. James Bales of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, finished sixth with a combined time of 1:56:30.

Based on their times, all six were selected for the Armed Forces Triathlon Team that will compete in Korea.

Hooker has been on the Armed Forces Triathlon Team for seven years, but he said this year is the first time he will have an opportunity to compete in the Military World Games, Sept. 2-12 in Korea, and he's excited about it.

WOMEN'S TEAM TITLE

Since only the top three women from each squad count in team scoring, the Army easily took the team championship with Franzese finishing first and runners coming in third and fourth.

Second place was claimed by Air Force Maj. Jamie Turner, of Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, who had an overall time of 2:15:28.

Army 2nd Lt. Jessica Clay, from Camp Casey, Korea, finished third after beginning with a strong swim of 20:14 and a combined time of 2:16:29.

Army 2nd Lt. Justine Emge, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, with the Missouri National Guard, now attending flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, finished the race in fourth place with a time of 2:18:26.

Emge actually finished the swim - the first leg of the race - in first place with a time of 20:09 alongside Clay, who swam 20:14.

"It's nice to come out of the water in front of the pack," Emge said. But she fell back some on the biking and then the run, as the cold and rain was a factor. She said the wind was gusting from 15 to 25 mph on the bike course, making it a challenge.

"Really, no triathlon ever goes as planned," she said. "The wind, even on the run, was brutal."

"There were some strong crosswinds on the bike that were particularly challenging," Franzese said, though she was able to close the gap some before going into the run. Her group alternated drafting and "worked really well together." They passed all but two of the women and she moved into first place just before mile two of the run.

The Army team took first place with only eight points. Air Force women took second place with 17 points and the Navy women came in third place with 31 points. The Marines were disqualified.

MEN'S TEAM RESULTS

The top six finishers for each squad count in men's triathlon team scoring.

With the Navy and Air Force tied at 50 points, seventh competitor on each team determined the champion. Air Force Capt. Brett King, of Beale Air Force Base, ran 2:00:35 to beat out the Navy's seventh competitor, Ensign Christopher Brahm, from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Brahm finished at 2:01:17.

The Air Force men thus took first place and Navy second. The Army took third with 84 points and the Marine Corps finished in fourth place with 142 points.

LOOKING AHEAD

The 2015 Armed Forces Championship was held in conjunction with Leon's Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana. The service members began separately out in front of the other triathlon participants, whose start time was held up due to the weather. Results of the military competitors were used to select the Armed Forces Triathlon Team, which will be representing the United States at the Military World Games in South Korea, Oct. 2-11.

Franzese, Clay and Emge made the women's team, along with Navy Lt. j.g. Jessica Hafey from San Diego, who finished the triathlon in fourth place at 2:18:4; Marine Corps Capt. Christine Taranto of Monterey, California, who finished in fifth place with a time of 2:18:57; and Air Force Capt. Stephanie Mitchell of Fort Meade, Maryland, who finished at 2:20:05.

Hooker, Sterghos, LeHardy, Bohachek, Petty and Bales will run for the men.

"I am very much looking forward to CISM [International Military Sports Council] and the opportunity to represent the U.S. military at the World Military Games in October," said LeHardy about the event in South Korea this fall.

Click here for complete results

Click here for complete photos

armed forces CISM Military World Games MWG Sports Triathlon