NB Ventura County, CA – The sun was out and shining on the competitors of the 2012 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship, hosted by Naval Base Ventura County, CA on 23 June. Athletes from across the branches of Service competed in the 16th annual Armed Forces Triathlon Championship and the 12th in a row hosted by Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu. The Armed Forces Triathlon Championship is an Olympic distance race, where competitors compete in a 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, and 10-kilometer run.

The United States Air Force Women continued their dominance capturing their 4th consecutive title since 2009. Along the way, Capt Kathy Rakel (Luke AFB, AZ) brought her 3rd consecutive women’s individual gold medal. Sharing the women’s podium were Rakel’s Air Force teammates SSgt Jolene Wilinson (Gowen Field, ID) and Capt Stephanie Mitchell (Maxwell AFB, AL) earning the silver and bronze medals respectively.

On the men’s side, the Army dominated upfront placing two soldiers 1st and 2nd, but ultimately, the Army men placed 3rd. Army 1LT Nicholas Vandam (Fort Carson, CO) improved his 2011 bronze medal performance and took the gold with a time of 1:45:31. Next was Army 1LT Nicholas Sterghos (Fort Hood, TX) for the silver and Navy’s LT JG Derek Oskutis (Naval Outlying Field Imperial Beach, CA) for the bronze. While the Army started strong, Navy cruised to the team gold scoring four racers in the top ten and all in the top 20. The Navy men returned to the top of podium for the first time since 2009.

Joining the 2012 Armed Forces Triathlon Championship were the Canadian national military team, as they are preparing, along with the United States, for the 2012 Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) World Triathlon Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland from 22-26 August. The top available six men and six women from the Armed Forces Championship qualify for the United States Armed Forces Triathlon Team.

The 2012 team will consist of: Women: SSgt Jolene Wilkinson (USAF), Gowen Field, ID Capt Stephanie Mitchell (USAF), Maxwell AFB, AL 1LT Maia Paris (USA), Fort Bliss, TX LCDR Colleen O'Connor (USN), NAB North Island, CA, Capt Justine Whipple (USMC), HQMC Quantico, VA, and Capt Leoni Campbell, MCB Camp Lejeune. 

Men: 1LT Nicholas Vandam (USA), Fort Carson, CO 1LT Nicholas Sterghos (USA), Fort Hood, TX LT JG Derek Oskutis (USN), Naval Outlying Field Imperial Beach, CA LT JG Kyle Hooker (USN), NAS Whidbey Island, WA CS2 Samuel Dannenbring (USN), NOSC Denver, CO Capt Ken Corigliano (USAF), Cannon AFB, NM

2012 Armed Forces Triathlon Women's Results:

Rakel, Kathy Capt, USAF, 1:59:54
Wilkinson, Jolene SSgt, USAF, 2:05:19
Mitchell, Stephanie Capt, USAF, 2:08:16

1st – USAF, 17 pts
2nd – USMC, 36 pts
3rd – Navy, 42 pts
4th – Army, 47 pts
*displacement scoring used for final team results


1st: Vandam, Nicholas 1LT, Army, 1:45:31
2nd: Sterghos, Nicholas 1LT, Army, 1:47:12
3rd: Oskutis, Derek LT JG, Navy, 1:48:56

1st – Navy, 71 pts
2nd – USAF, 92 pts
3rd – Army, 127 pts
4th – USMC, 132 pts
*displacement scoring used for final team results

By Steven Dinote, Armed Forces Sports

Photos provided by Brigitta Bruehl, All-Army Sports