MESA, Arizona - An array of Team USA’s brightest stars returned to competition at the Desert Challenge Games in Mesa, Arizona on Friday for the first major domestic event since the pandemic hit in early 2020. Paralympic medalist Alexa Halko (Williamsburg, Virginia) proved she’s still the one to beat in the women’s 800m T34 speeding to an impressive victory to close out the first day of competition. Straight off a stint at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, Paralympian and 2019 world champion Daniel Romanchuk (Mount Airy, Maryland) carved out top finishes in the men’s 100m and 800m T54 preliminary events securing his spot as the favorite to win in Saturday’s final events for both races. Paralympic hopefuls and ones to watch Jaleen Roberts (Kent, Washington) and Justin Phongsavanh (Des Moines, Iowa) also secured first place finishes in the women’s long jump T37 and men’s javelin F54 respectively. Rising star Jonathan Gore clocked an impressive preliminary win in the men’s 100m T44 competition ahead of Paralympic silver medalist Richard Browne and 2016 Paralympian Nick Rogers.
Team USA returns to competition at 8:00 a.m. PT on Saturday morning with world champion Josh Cinnamo alongside Paralympians and power couple Kym Crosby and Erik Hightower set to highlight the morning session. Competition will run through the evening of Sunday, May 30. For full results and competition schedule, please visit the Desert Challenge official website here.
“It’s great to be able to get back to competition. This is the second competition that I’ve been to this year and it’s really great to be to see everyone and the younger generation, and see how bright the future is for the sport.”
“The environment was electric…Competing again was great, especially being able to support teammates that we don’t get to see every day from all over the country. Knowing that we have a big competition coming up [at Trials], to be able reconvene after a year away from each other was incredible.”
“The biggest thing I was trying to do for this meet was just race. I wasn’t really worried about the outcome, but it makes me feel great ahead of Trials. This was my first race in about a month, so it felt good just being back and racing against everyone else.”