Air Force earns 12 medals in track and field

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
  • Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
The Air Force Warrior Games team won 12 medals during the track and field events at the U.S. Air Force Academy here May 14.

The track and field team won five gold, five silvers and two bronzes. Matt Sanders, a former staff sergeant, led the team with three medals, a gold in the 400 meter and 200 meter races and silver in the 100-meter sprint.

The first time Sanders ran the 400-meter in practice last week he ran it in 1:14. In today's race, he shaved 13 seconds off his time to earn gold.

"It feels awesome to earn these medals for my team," he said. "I really don't care about the medals for myself, but mainly because we're going toward the prize to win this whole thing for the Air Force. That's more important to me."

After one Air Force team member pulled out of events due to injury, another, retired Staff Sgt. Richard Tackett, stepped up to compete.

Tackett initially decided to pull out of the 100-meter race due to a stress fracture in his leg, but at race time he lined up at the start so his teammate, Sanders, wouldn't race alone in his final race.

"It shows how everyone is pushing themselves to the limit on these events," Sanders said. "When he got up there, I said 'Hey, we are in this together no matter what, just follow me,' and he just pushed right on through and got through."

Tackett finished seventh in the race.

Another track and field team member, Jennifer Stone, also medaled in each of her events earning the silver in the 100-meter dash and gold in the standing shot put with a throw of 26 meters.

"For someone who doesn't have the (shot put experience) to (then) come out here and hurl that thing like she did was amazing," said Maj. Vanessa Warren, the track and field head coach. "She was just hurling it out there and I think one of the times she threw it the official looked at it and I saw their eyes get kind of big and they whispered, 'That was farther than some of the guys threw it,' and I said, 'Yeah, I watched it, that was awesome!"

Other Air Force gold medalists include Staff Sgt. Christopher D'Angelo in a 1500-meter race, and Adam Tanverdi in a 200-meter race.

Air Force silver medalists include Jason Morgan in the 1500-meter wheelchair race, Stacy Pearsall in the women's 1500-meter race and retired Master Sgt. Kimberly Bradshaw in the seated women's shot put.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Sanders earned bronze in a 1500-meter race and Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock earned bronze in the seated discus throw.

"To see them come out here and push as hard as they have, knowing the things that they've been through, it's just inspiring to everybody," Coach Warren said.

Members of the Air Force team raced in different categories according to their disability. The categories included lower-body impairment, upper-body impairment, wheelchair events and post-traumatic stress disorder/traumatic brain injury. Shot put and discus throw events were broken down into seated and standing categories.