While the average college student’s week is filled with studying, writing papers, completing projects and attending classes, Southern Utah University Army ROTC cadets’ average week has even more requirements. On top of the usual academic requirements, they also have physical fitness sessions, leadership classes and field exercises.
And for these T-Birds, their hard work has proven effective when they placed first in the 5th Brigade Region Ranger Challenge Competition October 4, beating Brigham Young University, terminating its 10-year winning streak.
This physically demanding and mind grueling tournament took place among 14 other ROTC collegiate programs across the Northwestern U.S., with nine cadets on each team all competing in both individual and group events, testing each cadets’ physical and mental stamina.
“This competition isn’t a tournament to prove to other universities who has the strongest cadets,” stated Major Adam Ashworth, assistant professor of military science at SUU. “It’s a competition to grow a close knit crew that is strong, physically and emotionally.”
Major Ashworth added, “These nine students represent their University and their community. Their win has cemented in the minds of the other 14 teams that SUU’s ROTC program recruits and produces winning cadets.”
Running the length of the entire day, the competition began with the Cadet Field Training Athletic Performing Test, where cadets completed pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups, each for two minutes, and then performed a five-mile run.
After only a 30-minute break the cadets jumped right into the One Rope Bridge event. With a rope, equipment and other rappelling gear, T-Birds transferred all their gear, including themselves, across the 58-foot long rope in an impressive 5:47 minutes, a team best.
The other challenges included a written knowledge test of military history and current leadership and a 10k road march with 33 pound pack in full military uniform, and it was this road march that solidified SUU’s win with a time of 1:11:52.
For SUU’s ROTC Ranger Challenge team captain, Scott Wallace, junior biology and military science student from Cedar City, being part of the Ranger Challenge and the ROTC is making his future dreams a reality.
“I joined the ROTC program following my 2011 deployment to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion 222 Field Artillery. During that time, I worked as a combat medic and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found that the best way to continue my career in military medicine was to become a medical officer, a choice that the ROTC and SUU is helping become a reality.”
Sergeant’s First Class Corey Bybee and Jacques Andrews coached the Ranger Challenge team. Along with Wallace, other team members were Levi Roundy, Bronson Nye, Lacie Jonas, Ryan Egan, Matthew Miller, Dalan Knight, Trevor Humphries, Alex Thurston, Jeremy Osborne and Sam Smith.
The Ranger Challenge typically takes place at Fort Carson in Colorado, but with the current government shutdown, all ROTC travel has been suspended, forcing teams to host individual competitions and relay times to commanding officers.