The All-Army women’s team took first place at the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship and Army men finished in second and third places individually at the competition in Hammond, Ind., June 7.
2nd Lt. Samone Franzese, a medical student, led the Army women to victory, finishing her 10-kilometer run in a torrential downpour with a winning triathlon time of 2 hours, 13 minutes and 15 seconds.
“I grew up in Portland, Ore., and I have found that I race well in rain,” Franzese said. “The weather probably helped my performance.”
Capt. Nicholas Sterghos, a veteran competitor from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, finished second for the men with a combined time of 1:52:50, behind Navy Lt. Kyle Hooker of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., who won with 1:51:24.
2nd Lt. Gene Barrett LeHardy, from Fort Eustis, Va., finished in third place overall with a time of 1:53:04, a personal best.
“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.
“The course was very fast with fast transitions, and well-marked,” LeHardy said of Hammond.
The transition from the 1500-meter swim to cycling was exceptionally quick, he said, as the bikes were only a few feet off the narrow beach. Gusting headwinds, when pedaling south around the lake, made the 40-kilometer circuit somewhat of a challenge, he said, but like Franzese, he didn’t mind running in the pouring rain.
“Hey, who doesn’t like to race in the rain?” said the Army lieutenant, who serves as a dive-detachment liaison with the 30th Engineer Battalion S-3. “That [rain] definitely helped with the breathing and keeping the temperatures down.”
WOMEN’S TEAM TITLE
The Army women had three of the top four female finishers. Because only the top three from each squad count in team scoring, the Army easily took the team championship with only eight points.
Franzese finished in first and 2nd Lt. Jessica Clay, from Camp Casey, Korea, finished in third place after beginning with a strong swim of 20:14 and a combined time of 2:16:29. She finished behind Air Force Maj. Jamie Turner, of Joint Base Charleston, S.C., who had a second-place time of 2:15:28.
2nd Lt. Justine Emge, an Apache attack helicopter pilot, with the Missouri National Guard, now attending flight training on 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.
Air Force women took second place in the team competition 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.
The Navy and Air Force both had 50 points, but the tie-breaker was determined by the seventh competitor on each team (who wasn’t counted in the points). 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, Md. Brahm finished at 2:01:17.
The Air Force men thus took first place and Navy second. The Marine Corps men finished in fourth place with 142 points.
Scoring for the Army team was third runner 1st Lt. Marcus Farris, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., who finished overall in 15th place with a time of 1:58:58.
Maj. Eric Reid, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, finished 17th at 2:00:07. Maj. Bryan Dunker, of Moffett Air Field, California, finished 21st with a time of 2:02:16, and Capt. Robert Killian, of Fort Carson, Colorado, finished 26th at 2:11:14.
The 2015 Armed Forces Championship was held in conjunction with Leon’s Triathlon in Hammond, Ind.. 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 and LeHardy made the men’s team, along with Air Force 2nd Lt. Cody Bohachek of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who finished the triathlon fourth with a time of 1:54:23; Ensign Clay Petty of the U.S. Naval Academy, who finished fifth at 1:55:24; and Air Force Maj. James Bales of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, who finished sixth with a combined time of 1:56:30.
“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 said about the International Military Sports Council event in South Korea this fall.