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Icemen battle for first place at X-Treme Challenge

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Eielson Chiefs compete in a heated dodgeball match against the Eielson commanders on base at the fitness center Jan. 26. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Eielson Chiefs compete in a heated dodgeball match against the Eielson commanders on base at the fitness center Jan. 26. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Lt. Col. John Martinez, 354th Mission Support Squadron commander, eyes up his competition during the commanders versus first sergeants tricycle race Jan. 26 at the fitness center. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachael Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Lt. Col. John Martinez, 354th Mission Support Squadron commander, eyes up his competition during the commanders versus first sergeants tricycle race Jan. 26 at the fitness center. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachael Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a stationary bike race during a four-person team competition at Jan. 26 at the fitness center. More that 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a stationary bike race during a four-person team competition at Jan. 26 at the fitness center. More that 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a stationary bike race during a four-person team competition featuring unique challenges. The 354th Communications Squadron team took the $400 first place prize. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force phot by Senior Airman Justin Weaver)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a stationary bike race during a four-person team competition featuring unique challenges. The 354th Communications Squadron team took the $400 first place prize. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force phot by Senior Airman Justin Weaver)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a swim relay during a four-person team competition at the fitness center. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska--Airmen compete in a swim relay during a four-person team competition at the fitness center. More than 400 Airmen and their families attended the X-Treme Winter Challenge hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Walters)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The ball went whizzing past his head and another one just narrowly missed hitting his left leg. He dove to the ground to avoid the next onslaught of oversized red rubber balls, but his right leg wasn't quick enough and it took the full force of the hit, knocking him out of the game.

This was the scene as more than 20 teams vied for supremacy in Eielson's first-ever base-wide dodgeball tournament during the X-Treme Winter Challenge Jan. 26 at the fitness center.

The X-Treme challenge was hosted by the 354th Services Squadron and BASE 24/7, an alcohol awareness program whose goal is to provide Airmen with alternatives to drinking.

The day's events kicked off with four-person teams competing in unique events such as stationary bike racing, a weight-lifting competition, a one-mile relay race and a cannonball contest.

Airmen and their families cheered on the teams during the fierce competition.
"It was very interesting to see some of the team's strategies on how they decided to accomplish some of the challenges," said Master Sgt. Susan Trejo, 354th SVS assistant fitness director. "The teams put their heart into this competition. I think the $400 first-place prize was a good motivator for them."

The 354th Communications Squadron took first place, thanks to the efforts of Senior Airmen Sean Haggard and Robert Satterwaite and Airmen 1st Class Carl Klein and Chavis Wright.

"It felt great to win," said Airman Haggard. "The competition was more challenging than I thought. It would have been nice to see more teams compete, but overall it was a lot of fun. I hope to see more events like this in the future."

Immediately following the four-person team competition, commanders and first sergeants relived their toddler days in a pre-school favorite - the tricycle race.

"We hoped to retain our title from 2006, but it wasn't to be," said Lt. Col. John Martinez, 354th Mission Support Squadron commander, who wore an over-sized yellow cowboy hat during the race.

Fans of dodgeball were out in force as more than 160 Airmen poured into the fitness center to watch the on-court carnage.

"I couldn't believe the turnout for this event," said Airman 1st Class Greg Seeley, Dodgeball coordinator. "We had more than 22 teams signed up to play and the competition was fierce."

The Airfield Systems shop claimed the dodgeball first place trophy thanks to the athletic maneuvering and lightning quick throws of Airmen 1st Class Anthony Sharpe and Carl Kline, Senior Airman Yoseph Hooks, Staff Sergeants Mark Nelson and Charles Rose and Tech. Sgt. Clint Miller.

"Dodgeball was a huge hit and I think we might be seeing more of this in the future," said Maj. Alex Garcia, 354th SVS commander. "BASE 24/7 did a great job in hosting this tournament."

The farthest-north Air Force base has quite a challenge in trying to find ways to keep Airmen and their families entertained during the winter, but services works overtime ensuring events like the X-Treme challenge continue.

"We are always open to ideas from the base on events that we can host," Sergeant Trejo said. "We are here for the base populace and we want to make their experience here enjoyable."

The services squadron showed their appreciation for Icemen and their families by offering free food, beverages and prizes.

"It's nice to be able to show our appreciation to the Icemen that use the services facilities throughout the year," said Staff Sgt. Shirley Phillips, 354th SVS fitness specialist. "It's our way of saying 'thank you.'"