Servicemembers took to the field, challenging themselves and each other during the NFL Military Challenge held at Kapiolani Park here, Feb. 8.
Using speed, aggressiveness and teamwork, the Air Force made this their third consecutive year to win.
The teams consisted of six members who competed in six
different events. Two of the events were team efforts, while four were individual events.
Before the event started, Keith Rooks, event coordinator for E2K, gathered the teams together, giving a short brief on the events, rules and the new points system.
Points were awarded on a 1-5 scale. The winner of each event earned one point and the last place team scored five points. The team to accumulate the lowest amount of points at the end of the competition would be the winner.
The first event was the field-goal kicking.
The designated kicker for each team was allowed 10 attempted kicks from a set distance. In the event of a tie, the kickers would be moved back for a sudden death kick-off.
Coming out strong for the Air Force was Richard Good, making nine of 10 kicks and winning the event.
Bringing excitement to the fans, the Coast Guard and the Marine team, who tied for second with eight field goals, competed in the first tie breaker of the day.
Pitting Chris Barton, Coast Guard kicker, against Jaime Rodriguez, Marine kicker, the Marines lost in the five kick face off.
The second event was the 40-yard dash, run in a relay style in which each member would run from one line to the other, tagging the next runner.
Coming out ahead in the event was the Army team with a combined time of 29.28 seconds.
“We had a good run and it was exhilarating,” said Shawn Grace. “We P.T. a lot and I think that’s what helped us out the most for the competition.”
Grace said the team also stays active in year-round sports and other cardiovascular exercises.
The third event was punting, which was scored on both distance and accuracy.
Each competitor was allowed three punts for a combined score. The kicks were scored on total distance, minus the distance away from the center line.
Once again, the Air Force came out on the winning end, out-kicking the other service.
The fourth event was the long-snap, where players tested their skills from the shotgun and punt formations. Each competitor made three attempted snaps from each position.
In a tie for first and second, the Navy and the Marine snappers faced off, with the Navy team taking first.
The Army and the Air Force dueled for third and fourth place with the Army coming out on top.
The final event, demanding the most effort from all the players, was the pass and receive drill, which demanded both speed and agility. One player was the designated passer, while the remaining five members ran out to either the 10-, 20- or 30-yard line, catching the ball and running back to the starting line as fast as possible.
Scrambling for points, each service ran out trying to catch as many balls as possible, but with strategy and skill, the Air Force came out on top again with the Marine team close behind.
With all the events completed, the teams stepped to the bandstand as they awaited the total score and the winner of the challenge.
“Thanks for coming out,” said Rooks. “We’ve been doing this for a few years now and we’re happy to see the athletes come out and be competitive.”
Coming in fifth place was the Navy. The Army and the Coast Guard tied for third place, leaving the Marine team in second place and the Air Force, the overall winners.
“It didn’t go as well as I thought it would go,” said Michael Berg, team captain for the Marines. “It was good overall and we got beat by the better team.”
Even though the Air Force won, they realized the competition is not in the bag.
“It was a good win and a good competition,” said Nate Allen, team captain for the Air Force. “I thought we were going to do a little bit better in some of the events but we made enough to come back and win it for the third year in a row.”