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Goodfellow airmen run an American Ninja Warrior’s challenging ‘grip gauntlet’

Yfat Yossifor, San Angelo Standard-Times   Published 1:53 p.m. CT April 13, 2018

His arms felt like jelly.

Airman Devontee Lawson looked down a line of rings and blue rubber cones he was supposed to grab and swing from to proceed.

He almost gave up.

But Lawson persevered, completing the Alpha Warrior contest in conjunction with Sports Day on Friday at Goodfellow Air Force Base.

“It was rigorous and really challenging but also exciting to hear everyone cheer to go through,” Lawson said.

Sports Day happens twice a year at the base, but new for this year, the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig was set up for competition.

Running the event were pro athlete celebrities Kevin Klein and Rebekah Bonilla of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

The Battle Rig is five lanes of obstacles, comprising grips, barrels and ladders — “a grip gauntlet,” as Klein called it.

“We get to come in to the bases and we get to see what the airmen jobs are and how they work in conjunction with the entire Air Force and how everybody has a purpose,” Klein said.

“For us to bring Alpha Warrior here, to give them something to train on, to get excited about, to get fit on, it’s awesome, and they get to see into our world as well.”

Klein demonstrated how to go through the rig, which he made look easy.

Many fitness exercises focus on the whole body, and “those are all great,” Klein said, “but we are not doing aerial stuff, where we are swinging through the air hanging on by our fingertips.”

Klein grew up in San Antonio and has visited San Angelo before.

“I used to do FFA and used to come here to buy all my sheep,” he said. “San Angelo’s got it going on, the restaurant scene is great and the river is beautiful. It’s a hidden gem.”

Col. Jeffery Sorrell, vice commander of the 17th Training Wing, said the day was set up as the culmination of the base’s resiliency week.

 “We focus on the comprehensive fitness and tackle the spiritual, mental and emotional pillars within our activities,” Sorrell said. “We want folks to enjoy some time together, energize unit pride and have healthy competition.”

Alpha Warrior focuses on working out as a group and encourages the participants to work together as a team.

“I think it’s a great boost for morale of the base, the opportunity to take a break from classes and have a great day in this beautiful weather,” Lawson said.

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