BYU’s Army ROTC took home the win in this year’s Ranger Challenge Competition. The regional contest Oct. 20-21 tested students’ military skills in a number of ways, including rifle shooting, navigation, tactical combat, first aid, weapons assembly, physical fitness and many other challenges.
The challenge was laid out in a series of stations the cadets marched between. The first group to complete all of the challenges would be winner. The stations were far apart, and in the end, the group ran almost 25 miles while carrying 40 pound “ruck sacks” between stations.
“The physical strain was really tough. It really came down to the wire — we only won by 4 minutes, and the contest takes about 10 hours. For a good portion of the contest we were just a few meters away from the other leading team,” said BYU cadet Spencer Allen, fourth time competitor.
BYU’s Army ROTC has a great track record when it comes to the Ranger Challenge Competition, taking first place in 36 of the last 40 annual contests. Victory escaped them in the last three competitions, but this year BYU is back on top.
All of the competitors noted teamwork was a major factor in the contest.
“Everybody had their important role and we had a good combination of skill sets. There’s no way any of us could’ve done it by ourselves, we definitely needed every one of us,” said BYU cadet Kevin Lewis.
The recruits worked together to succeed. Due to the myriad challenges presented in the competition, Lewis said it was essential the team be well-rounded. Even when team members struggled along the way, the group was able to come out on top.
“I was nervous because I didn’t want to slow down the team. Luckily we have a really awesome team and an awesome team leader,” BYU cadet Monica Houston said. “They helped carry my pack when I couldn’t. We did our best because we worked together.”
Lt. Col. Chip Cook of the BYU Army ROTC said he feels the Ranger Challenge Competition is a great opportunity for cadets.
“The Ranger Challenge team is voluntary and many of our very best cadets choose to train year round to prepare for the competition,” Cook said. “Being on Ranger Challenge helps them to be more fit, better team members, and learn valuable soldier skills that will help them throughout their careers in the Army.”
This victory means the BYU team will compete in Texas on Nov. 3, where they will vie for the Brigade Championship. Winning there would allow BYU to move on to a final, international contest featuring teams from multiple allied countries.