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All-Marine wrestler Dan Hicks works to try to turn All-Army wrestler Franklin Lashley during a freestyle match in the 2002 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship. Hicks won two gold medals for his wrestling, one in freestyle wrestling and one in Greco-Roman wrestling.

All-Marine wrestler Dan Hicks works to try to turn All-Army wrestler Franklin Lashley during a freestyle match in the 2002 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship. Hicks won two gold medals for his wrestling, one in freestyle wrestling and one in Greco-Roman wrestling. ()

All-Air Force softball player Tony Patrick is transferring from the 18th Munitions Squadron at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa to Aviano Air Base in Italy later this month.

On the way to Europe, he’ll stop in Washington to be honored as the Air Force’s male Athlete of the Year for 2002.

“I think they’ve got the wrong guy,” said Patrick, half-jokingly, about being honored during the U.S. Military Sports Association’s Pride of the Nation ceremonies March 28 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Washington.

“My primary sport was a team sport, so it’s hard to stand out amongst all those outstanding athletes out there. I’m honored that these guys would even consider it.”

Joining him will be Dan Hicks of Okinawa’s Camp Hansen, a freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestler who was selected Marine Corps’ male Athlete of the Year, giving Okinawa two of the USMSA’s 10 Athlete of the Year selections.

Hicks also picked up the distinction in 1996, when the six-time All-Marine and four-time U.S. National team member was an alternate on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.

“Not sure if it’s becoming a regular thing,” he said. “That might be an overestimate. But twice, it’s a good thing.”

Patrick, 28, a tech sergeant-select from Klamath Falls, Ore., helped the Air Force win the All-Armed Forces softball tournament title with a come-from-behind 36-35, eight-inning victory over the Marines. The Air Force trailed 22-3 in the fourth inning of the gold-medal game.

That was the highlight of the 2002 campaign, said the four-time All-Air Force standout who had watched the Marines win the tournament in 2000 and the Army take it the next year.

Besides his Armed Forces diamond exploits, Patrick led his local Okinawa team, Pacific Force, to three of the four Pacific Grand Slam tournament titles this year, giving the team 36 of the last 55 dating back to 1989.

Hicks’ honor comes after having sat out competitive wrestling during 2001, partly to help his body heal, but more so because he felt his best days were behind him. After being an Olympic alternate in 1996, he failed to make the team for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

U.S. Military Sports Association Athletes of the Year

Air Force

Staff Sgt. Tony Patrick, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, softball;2nd Lt. Kristy Kuhlman, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., soccer.

Marine Corps

Capt. J. Daniel Hicks, Marine Corps Base Okinawa, wrestling;Capt. Kristin McCann, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., distance running.

Army

Sgt. Dremiel Byers, Fort Carson, Colo., wrestling;Pfc. Tina Wilson, Fort Carson, Colo., wrestling.

Navy

Lt. Chhem Young-Pen, Rota Naval Station, Spain, racquetball;Petty Officer Tina Eakin, USS Pinckney (San Diego), triathlon/marathon.

Coast Guard

Lt. Adam A. Chamie, U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May, N.J., powerlifting;Lt. Amy B. Grable, U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, Washington, distance running.

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