ROTC heads to international Sandhurst Competition

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LTC Forrest Cook
BYU’s Ranger Challenge Competition team stands with their latest trophy won in Camp Bullis, Texas. (LTC Forrest Cook)

BYU’s ROTC’s Ranger Challenge team won the Brigade Ranger Challenge on Nov. 18 in Campus Bullis, Texas. The team is headed to the international Sandhurst Competition in April.

The Ranger Challenge Competition is a large event where teams move from station to station to compete in a variety of military events such as shooting, gun assembly, grenade throwing and obstacle courses. Each station is positioned a large distance away from the other stations, so marching and navigation are part of the competition as well. The first team to complete each station wins.

“The ‘brigade competition’ was a regional competition,” said Cadet Kevin Lewis, a member of the team. “There are about six or seven brigades in the US, and the winners of the competition are headed to an huge competition in New York.”

Lewis said the Sandhurst Competition will include teams from around the globe, including Australia, Germany, South Korea, Chile and other countries.

LTC Forrest Cook
Cadet Bryce Uehling participates in the rifle shooting competition while competing in the Ranger Challenge Competition. (LTC Forrest Cook)

The team members said victory was only made possible by the power of teamwork and utilizing their individual strengths.

“We joke that there are ‘smart’ rangers and there are ‘hard’ rangers. Some members of the team are great at more technical things, and others excel at the physical side of things,” said Cadet Monica Huston, a member of the team.

Cadet Elle Leder said she agrees. Standing at only five feet tall, Leder is the smallest member of the team. She said she understands her small size doesn’t help with many of the strength contests, such as carrying heavy equipment for long periods of time. However, her three years of ROTC training make her a formidable contestant at some of the more technical contests, such as shooting and first aid.

“You look at a basketball team or a volleyball team and you can see they all kind of fit into a mold. They’re all tall, they can all jump high. But our team isn’t like that. We have people of all shapes and sizes and we need them all,” Leder said.

That’s the reason Cadet Josh Huston originally invited his sister to join the team.

“My sister and I ran cross-country for years in high school. We grew close running together all those years. I realized we needed a fast female for our team and invited her to join. She has done a great job, and we’ve grown even closer,” Huston said.

After competing with her brother this year, Monica Huston has seen how her teammates make up for her shortcomings and how she’s made up for theirs.

LTC Forrest Cook
Cadet Colin Hatch and members of the team utilize their individual strengths to form a powerful team. (LTC Forrest Cook)

“My brother competed with a leg injury, so we had people swap out for him during parts he couldn’t do. But the team needed him because of his amazing land navigation skills, something that’s really important in this contest,” Monica said.

Lewis said the team is busy preparing for the competition in New York. According to him, they’ve noticed things they need to work on and are already “adjusting their plan of attack.”

“We work out for one and a half hours or more every day, then half the day on Saturday and several hours on Tuesday,” Leder said. “This is like our varsity sport. It’s just the best of the best in the program.”

This will be BYU’s first trip to the Sandhurst Competition since 2013, when they finished in the top seven. In addition to featuring international teams, the Sandhurst Competition will feature top teams from other U.S. military branches, including the Coast Guard, Air Force and Naval Guard. The competition will be held in April in Sandhurst, New York.

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