Imagine the task of completing 100 push-ups followed by 100 sit-ups and not even reaching the half-way point – all before sunrise. Those requirements, which began at 5 a.m., set the stage for five pull-ups, a double nine-story stair climb while wearing a weighted vest, a 5 1⁄2-foot wall climb, and a 150-pound dummy drag. Capping off the competition: a 2.5-mile formation run around the Borough of West Chester.
Corporal Joseph Woulfe, the fitness coordinator who oversees the challenge, said the punishing regimen was created by Chief Deputy Sheriff Jason Suydam. Initially, it represented the first step in the application process to join the Fugitive Apprehension Unit.
Woulfe explained that the test measures physical abilities as well as teamwork, dedication and determination, qualities that come in handy when deputies attempt to apprehend suspects committed to escaping capture. The voluntary challenge was subsequently opened up to all deputies as well as members of the District Attorney’s Office.
“I served 16 years in the Marine Corp, and I have never been pushed that far past the brink,” said Sheriff’s Office Security Officer Tim “Tygerr” Barnes, one of 15 participants who successfully met the challenge.
Barnes said he would have quit were it not for the support and encouragement he received from his colleagues. “God and the deputies pushed me to the finish,” he said.
Woulfe said he particularly appreciated the willingness of the instructors – Corporal Daniel Strathy, Corporal Raul Aponte, and Deputies Michael Cabry, Enrique Garcia, Christopher Klein and Steven Price – to set their alarms at an ungodly hour two days in a row.
The instructors have to take the test the day before so that they can oversee the challenge for everyone else, Woulfe explained. They also serve as road guards during the final formation run.
“It’s an extra commitment that they never complain about,” said Woulfe. “They’re just an awesome group of guys.”
Those who completed the 2017 Chester County Sheriff's Superior Fitness Challenge will receive pins to wear on their uniforms as a reminder of their predawn triumph. This year’s recipients are Aponte, Strathy, Woulfe, Cabry, Garcia, Klein, Barnes, Deputy David Barbone, Deputy Joel Buccialia, Deputy Anthony DeTore, Deputy Mario Dioguardi, Deputy Peter Gardner, Deputy Steven Price, Deputy Michael Sarro and Assistant District Attorney Peter Johnsen.
“I’m extremely proud of the dedication and commitment on the part of the deputies and officers,” said Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh. “This is another example of their continued achievement at the highest level. The strength and support among the deputies is something else that should be applauded.”
Photo Caption: Instructors for the Superior Fitness Challenge - Deputy Enrique Garcia, Deputy Steven Price, Corporal Daniel Strathy, Deputy Michael Cabry, Deputy Christopher Klein and Corporal Joseph Woulfe.