Army ROTC holds on to winning streak

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BYU’s Army ROTC won the timed-course Apache Challenge in Lehi on Saturday Oct. 20. For BYU, this marks the 29th victory of the last 31 competitions.

The Apache Challenge competition is an annual event that tests cadets’ leadership, basic soldier skills, physical toughness, mental agility and problem solving skills.

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Anna Savage” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Nine ROTC cadets, including one female cadet, faced nine stressful course events over a span of six hours. After crossing a one-rope bridge, carrying a “wounded” pilot over two kilometers of rough terrain, crossing the Jordan River and then sprinting up a one kilometer hill to the finish line, BYU’s team was the clear victor over the 22 other teams. A press release said BYU finished over two hours in front of the second place team and won five out of the nine timed events.

BYU took first in the 10 km full gear foot march, land navigation, the one-rope bridge, the casualty evacuation course and the hasty river crossing.

The Ranger Challenge cadets are held to a very high standard. Master Sgt. Michael Straight, who has been the coach twice since arriving in 2009, said in addition to all of their required classes, part time jobs, family and ROTC requirements, cadets do physical training five days a week and attend a four-hour lab on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

“They are the example for all other cadets,” Straight said in an email. “They get no special treatment for being on the team.”

Straight said he helped the cadets prepare physically, but feels what they did as a group was more impressive.

“This group of cadets are a team,” he said. “They have to develop into a team on their own. I am very happy those cadets trained hard, and they deserved to win.”

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Anna Savage” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]One cadet, who recovered from a sprained ankle just weeks before the competition, said the Apache Challenge was one of the most difficult things he’s done, physically and mentally. For the team, the ascent up the final hill was the toughest part.

“A couple guys started cramping up and we were trying to shave off as many seconds as we could so we were running quick,” said Cadet Jeff Andersen, a junior studying geospatial intelligence. “It was cool to see how we held together as a team and motivated each other to finish strong.”

Cadet Cooper Boice, this year’s team captain after four years of participation, said he was proud of the victory they had at Camp Williams this weekend. He feels like BYU’s reputation does not come just from taking first place 29 times, but by being good examples.

“Before we began we said a prayer together,” Boice said. “We overheard someone saying that they were impressed that even though our school wins every year, we were still humble enough to seek heavenly help. I think the impression we leave is more important than winning.”

Courtesy of Anna SavageBYU’s outstanding performance qualified them to compete in the Sandhurst competition at West Point, New York. There they will race against teams from the United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and other international cadets.

The cadets all agree that helping the team qualify for Sandhurst is proof of the ROTC’s excellence. For Cadet Olivia Hollister, being the only girl on the team this year helped her realize how supportive and encouraging her cadet comrades are, and she feels it a privilege to have competed with them.

“We stuck together and everything that happened was because we all worked together,” Hollister said. “Those cadets are truly amazing.”

BYU cadets will travel to West Point in April 2013 to compete in a competition similar to the regional Apache Challenge. Cadets are hopeful to out-perform some of the best soldiers in the world.

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