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16 Military Athletes Qualify for Olympic Track, Field Trials

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 1996 – Hopes of gold, silver and bronze medals for 16 military track and field athletes rest on their performances at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Atlanta.

The track and field trials began June 13 and continue through June 24 at Atlanta's Olympic Stadium. The top three finishers in each event will qualify for Olympic competition, July 26.

Although Army dominates the number of DoD athletes competing, Navy and Air Force have their share of Olympic hopefuls.

Ensign Christine Stancliff, fresh off a victory at the armed forces meet in Santa Barbara, Calif., will compete for a javelin position. She trains at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Also qualifying is Navy Lt. Ronnie Harris, assigned to Bureau of Naval Personnel in Arlington, Va. He qualified in the men's 1,500-meter run.

Air Force is sending two athletes. One is 1st Lt. Matt Zuber, who claimed five medals at the armed forces meet. A specialist in field events, Zuber will compete for a decathlon spot. He trains at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Also qualifying is Capt. Michael Michno, who will run in the men's 1,500. Michno, who holds armed forces titles in the 1,500 and 3,000, trains at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, with the Air Force World Class Athlete Program.

Army is sending 12 athletes to Atlanta to compete in nine events. Most trained through the Army's World Class Athlete Program -- started in 1994 to prepare soldiers for Olympic competition.

Many of the Army athletes will compete in the field events. 1st Lt. Laura Desnoo and Staff Sgt. Michael Mielke will compete in the women's and men's discus trials, respectively. Both train at Moffett Field Naval Air Station, Calif.

A pair of Army triple jumpers also have qualifying slots. Spc. Niambi Dennis (U.S. Army Recruiting Station, Austin, Texas) qualified for both long jump and triple jump events, while Spc. Charles Rogers (U.S. Army Recruiting Station, Bell, Calif.) will compete in the triple jump.

Army 2nd Lt. Gerald Ingalls, a recent graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will compete in the hammer event. Spc. Simone Brooks, assigned to the George Mason University, Va. ROTC program, will vie for a long jump position.

Another field athlete, Army Spc. Karen Bill of Fort Sill, Okla., will compete in the women's hammer.

DoD's fastest man and woman the past three years also qualified for the Olympic trials. Spc. Dionicio Napier, DoD's 1995 male athlete of the year, and Spc. Rhonda Colvin earned slots in one event each.

Napier will compete against world record holder Michael Johnson in the men's 200 meters. Napier claimed his third straight 200-meter title at the armed forces championships last month. He trains in Baton Rouge, La., while assigned to the Louisiana State University ROTC program.

Colvin, winner of the 100- and 200-meter events in Santa Barbara, qualified for the women's 100-meter hurdles. She also serves in an ROTC program, at the University of California-Berkeley.

Three Army distance runners recently qualified for the trials. Spc. Peter Pritchett and 1st Lt. Jason Cullinane both qualified for the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The two soldiers train at Auburn University in Alabama. In the 5,000 meter run, Army is sending 1st Lt. Jason Stewart, assigned to the Army World Class Athlete Program in Alexandria, Va.

Finally, Spc. Darrin Steele, who trains with Colvin at Berkeley, will compete for the decathlon title. Decathlon competition consists of 10 track and field events with points awarded based on the athlete's finish. Events range from the 100-, 400- and 1,500-meter runs to the pole vault, long jump and javelin.

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