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914th Airmen compete in Alpha Warrior Challenge

914th ARW Reserve Citizen Airmen Compete in Alpha Warrior Challenge

914th Air Refueling Wing Alpha Warrior Challenge winners pose for a photo with Wing Vice Commander, Col. Erik Aufderheide, and Ninja Warriors, Barclay Stockett (kneeling, left) and Kevin Klein (far right), May 6, 2018, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y. The Alpha Warrior Challenge is a rigorous competition which requires both physical and mental stamina. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard Mekkri)

NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. --

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 914th Air Refueling Wing competed in the Alpha Warrior Challenge, held here, May 6, 2018. The competition was led by Ninja Warrior celebrities and skilled athletes, Barclay Stockett and Kevin Klein. The two came to Niagara as part of their Alpha Warrior Tour to several Air Force installations both stateside and overseas. Their mission: to inspire and instruct competitors as well as oversee the competition itself.

The Alpha Warrior Challenge is a formidable competition designed to push competitors to their limits both physically and mentally. The challenge includes the use of a battle rig, a training apparatus which boasts swinging monkey bars, battering rams, ledge climbs, and a devil’s staircase- steel stairs meant to be climbed by hand from underneath.

Niagara Falls ARS members had their first opportunity to participate in an Alpha Warrior event in October of 2017.  Five Airmen who qualified locally piled into a van and made the 12-hour journey to Joint Base Langley-Eustace, Virginia where the Alpha Warrior Regional Tryouts were set to take place. These tryouts would determine who would go on to compete in the national competition, slated for November 11, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

Unfortunately, the five competitors, Senior Master Sgt. Paul Hackett, Tech. Sgt. Rusty Renn, Tech. Sgt. Richard Mekkri, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Clause, and Senior Airman Ebenezer Adu, were unable to adequately prepare for the challenge as NFARS had been the only base without access to the battle rig prior to the competition.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Clause, 914th Maintenance Squadron, recalled the struggle of going into the competition with little training.

“When we went into regionals last year, we were really going into it blind,” said Clause. Being as ill-prepared as they were, the five nevertheless competed, but failed to qualify for nationals.

Having a clear idea of what to expect this time around, Staff Sgt. Clause competed in the latest Alpha Warrior Challenge, placing second.

“This time we were able to touch the rig the day before and get great advice from the Alpha Warrior pros on areas that I knew were trouble spots for myself,” said Clause.

The implementation of the battle rig brings a fun, competitive edge to exercise.

“The thing that I enjoy about the Alpha Warrior Challenge is that it brings out the best in people,” said Clause. “Everyone that tries it wants to do better. Now that the rig is here, everyone will be able to train and incorporate different aspects of it into their fitness. I am really looking forward to seeing the progress that everyone will make by the next competition.”

The Alpha Warrior Competition builds morale and a sense of camaraderie among competitors, strengthening unit cohesion.

The battle rig was transported to the base in late April 2018 and will remain as a permanent fixture, available to all members of the installation for training and physical conditioning.