Team USA dominates at Desert Challenge Games

By Mary Kate Lau | May 18, 2015, 6:59 p.m. (ET)
Raymond Martin celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold ahead of Tomoya Ito of Japan (L) in the men's 800m T52 final on day nine of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on Sep. 7, 2012 in London, England.

TEMPE, Arizona – In the only stateside leg of the IPC Athletics Grand Prix series, Team USA made their mark at the Desert Challenge Games in Tempe, Arizona with 35 medals—30 gold, four silver and one bronze—headlined by three first-place finishes from Paralympic medalist and world record holder Raymond Martin.

After victory at the IPC Marathon World Championships last month, Martin (Champaign, Illinois) took the title in three races at the Desert Challenge: the T52 100 meter, 400m and the 1500m. Kym Crosby (Chula Vista, California) Cheri Madsen (Union, Nebraska) and Brian Siemann (Savoy, Illinois) also earned three victories at the two-day competition.

Jarryd Wallace (Athens, Georgia) broke the tape in Team USA’s sweep of the men’s T43/44 100m finishing ahead of teammates David Prince (Brandon, Florida), who won the 200m title the day before, and Jerome Singleton (Irmo, South Carolina).

Susannah Scaroni (Tekoa, Washington), David Brown (St. Louis, Missouri) and Erik Hightower (Chula Vista, California) each earned two victories in their respective classification. Scaroni earned wins in the T53 800m and 1500m, Hightower in the T54 100m and 400m and Brown in the T11 200m and 400m.

Three-time Paralympic medalist and world record holder April Holmes (Kissimmee, Florida) took first place finish in the T43/44 100m dash after a second-place finish in the 200m on the first day of competition.

Other Team USA track athletes took the podium at the Desert Challenge Games were Shirley Reilly (Tucson, Arizona), who secured a victory in the women’s 400m T53, 14-year-old Alexa Halko (Williamsburg, Virginia) took the title in the T33/34/51/52 100m and recent Boise State graduate and newcomer Roderick Townsend (Stockton, California) won the 100m T45/46/47. 

In field competition, Paralympic medalist and world record holder Jeremy Campbell (Edmond, Oklahoma) took the title in the men’s discus F42/43/44/45, with 58.33m. World record holder Rachael Morrison (Spokane, Washington) won the F51 club throw with a final throw of 18.03m ahead of teammate Cassie Mitchell (Atlanta, Georgia). Scott Stokes (Roswell, Georgia) won the men’s club throw F51 with a best of 22.70m. David Blair (Eagle Mountain, Utah) also took second in F44 shot put and discus behind teammate Seth Neiman (Bethesda, Maryland).

In the men’s long jump F11/12, Paralympian and world record holder Lex Gillette (Raleigh, North Carolina) earned the win with a 6.39m final jump. In the men’s shot put F53/54/55 world bronze medalist Scott Winkler (Grovetown, Georgia) won with 9.93m while in the women’s shot F53/54/55/56 Paralympic bronze medalist Angela Madsen (Long Beach, California) threw 7.21m for her third victory of the meet.

New American records were set by Team USA men Austin Handley (Madison, South Dakota) in the T38 800m (2:14.10), Regas Woods (Dunnellon, Florida) in the T42 200m (25.27), newcomer Sam Grewe (Middlebury, Indiana) in the F42 high jump (1.55m), Roderick Townsend (F46) in the high jump (1.90m), Michael Wishnia (San Clemente, California) in the F57 shot put (13.00m). On the women’s side, Alexa Halko broke a 19-year-old American record in the 200m (35.08) while also smashing her own record by nine seconds in the 1500m (4:15.64).

The next event in the Grand Prix series, the seventh in 2015, will take place in Nottwil, Switzerland, on May 29-31.

View full results at the Desert Challenge Games results website.