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Inaugural ‘Seminole Warrior Competition’ crowns its first winners

BIG CYPRESS – The first-ever “Seminole Warrior Competition” is in the books, and organizers said it was a success.

The event was held Feb. 29 on the Big Cypress Reservation. It was designed to mimic the CrossFit Games, meaning competitors had to complete a variety of skill stations and strength moves as quickly as possible.

That meant flipping an oversized tire, doing multiple burpees, jumps, planks, squats and so on.

Eight brave souls participated in the first-ever “Seminole Warrior Challenge,” joined by supporters and recreation staff. (Photos Matt Goes, SMP)

The competition started out with a run – from the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium to the Junior Cypress Rodeo Arena – about 1.3 miles. Participants then completed nine fitness stations.

Vera Herrera, BC recreation department site manager, said everything went smoothly.

“Everyone got off to a good start,” she said. “All the recreation departments were out and had personal trainers helping to make sure no one got injured.”

Herrera confirmed that there were no injuries, just tired participants – all eight of them.

The competition started with a 1.3-mile run. (Photos Matt Goes, SMP)

Tribal member Tianna “Halie” Garcia of the Panther Clan and the daughter of Virginia Garcia was the female winner. Chris Torres, the spouse of Tribal member Doreen Cypress-Torres, was the male winner. They won a Seminole Warrior Champion belt in the style of WWE wrestlers or MMA fighters.

The other competitors were Joelli Frank, Jessica Osceola, Angel Billie, Merlin Miller, Mercedes Osceola and Elena Jim.

In addition to recreation department staff and personal trainers, there were emergency medical services (EMS) personnel on standby and Seminole police making sure the roads were clear.

The winners were Tianna “Halie” Garcia and Chris Torres. (Photos Matt Goes, SMP)

“They all worked together and it was beautiful weather and a great day,” Herrera said.

One wish Herrera has for the next Warrior Competition: more participants. She said the department is hoping to make it an annual event that will hopefully drive more interest.

“Everyone who came had a good time and we received positive feedback,” she said.

The competition was open to Tribal members, descendants and community members who live on reservation. Participants had to be at least 18 years old.

Competitors had to go through a series of challenging stations. (Photos Matt Goes, SMP)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at