Tiger with a tale

Ryan Sowder is shown with members of his family and coach Bill Cronin, right, on Georgetown College football senior day in 2015. Sowder, who was a standout defensive back for the Tigers, recently earned national attention for setting a record high score on the United States Army’s new fitness test.

Those who pursue physical fitness as a career or a consuming passion will say it’s impossible to put a value on the benefits.

Of course, there are still scoring rubrics to measure and evaluate the progress in certain circles, such as sports or the military.

Ryan Sowder, well acquainted with both those areas, continues to make a habit of performance that is off the charts.

An alumnus and former football standout at Georgetown College and Specialist in the United States Army, Sowder recently set a new record with a score of 597 (out of a possible 600 points) on the restructured Army Combat Fitness Test.

The exam, which is being redesigned to better equip soldiers for performance on the battlefield, demands six events — deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint drag-carry, leg tuck and two-mile run — in one hour.

Sowder, who previously owned the high mark of 592 in his first try, missed out on a perfect score by a mere five push-ups.

“Giving all I have to something, particularly fitness, is really gratifying, and I hope everyone can experience what it feels like,” Sowder, a native of Covington, said in an article written by Major Stephen Martin of the Kentucky National Guard.

He achieved the new standard on June 18 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, amazingly after being out in the field with his guard unit for two weeks of training. It is the highest score recorded so far at any level, whether active, guard or reserve.

Sowder serves with the 2112th Transportation Company, based in Burlington.

“I didn’t think I would do as well as I did that day,” Sowder said. “I’d been sleeping on a cot and was out of my normal training routine.”

Sowder was part of an outstanding brother combination along with brother Zach, two years his elder, at Georgetown for coach Bill Cronin.

He made 79 tackles over a three-year stretch from 2013 to 2015, including 42 stops and one pass interception as a junior.

The seeds for his future service and continued athletic prowess were planted during those Saturday afternoons at Toyota Stadium.

“When that (senior) season began coming to a close, I realized I wanted to continue competing,” Sowder said. “My brother, after graduation, started intensive muscular strength and power development in order to compete outside of football. I knew when he made that jump that I would be following him.”

Sowder’s post-graduate accomplishments aren’t limited to his military success.

He also spent much of the year training for a chance to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games.

Thanks to his success in one of 15 “Lowlands Throwdown” regional competitions around the world, Sowder earned an invitation to that showcase. It is scheduled for Aug. 1-4 in Madison, Wisconsin.

“I grew up playing sports year-round and have always been incredibly competitive,” Sowder said. “I realized early on that I could be really good if I put in the work.”

Col. Joe Gardner, who is the Kentucky National Guard’s G3 chief of operations, described Sowder’s performance on the test as remarkable under the unusual circumstances.

“The accomplishments of this young man cannot be overstated,” Gardner said. “Impressive, to say the least, especially after participating in his unit’s annual training leading up to the test.”

Sowder previously took the new test in Fort Eustis, Virginia, and registered 592, also the best score at that time.

His supervisors said that Sowder’s ability to juggle training and testing typify the mental and physical preparedness of a prospective American soldier.

“I look forward to seeing him achieve a perfect score, and I challenge the rest of us in the state to beat him to it,” Gardner said.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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