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ROTC Ranger Challenge team captures top honors

RangerChallenge_t.jpgBOONE—Appalachian State University’s ROTC Ranger Challenge team won third place against a field of 41 teams during the Ranger Challenge Competition held Nov. 4 at Fort Pickett, Va.

The event includes written exams, an obstacle course, a scenario event, weapons assembly/disassembly, one-rope bridge, grenade employment course, and the commander’s challenge, which was rifle marksmanship this year.

Appalachian’s Ranger Challenge team is composed of 11 of the program’s top performing cadets in physical fitness and Army squad tactics. During the training period, the cadets must achieve demanding physical requirements and good grades in order to qualify for the competition.

Training for the competition began in August, consisting of intensive muscular and cardiovascular workout along with many technical training scenarios. The team ran between four and six miles daily leading up to 10-mile runs by the end of the training period. They also conducted six-mile runs with 35-pound assault packs, practiced constructing rope bridges, throwing grenades, evaluating a casualty, weapons assembly/disassembly, squad patrolling techniques, and land navigation.

The cadets who participated in the competition were team captains Craig Penley (junior) and Sean Callahan (junior), Kelli Tapia (senior), Spencer McKinney (senior), Jorge Maldonado (senior), Mitchell Joslin (senior), Brandon Oelkers (senior), Corey Garlock (junior), Sean Berry (junior), Tony Fernandez (junior) and Mathew Gordon (sophomore). The team was coached by Master Sgt. Karl Arbogast.

Unlike most students who enjoyed a long weekend during fall break, the Ranger Challenge team sacrificed their fall break to further their chances of success at the competition to train on-site at Fort Pickett. The team ran through the entire course in order to perfect their strategy for the competition.

The competition began with the Army Physical Fitness Test which assesses the cadets’ total body fitness. The test consists of two minutes of both push ups and sit ups followed by a timed two-mile run. Each event is graded on a 100-point scale; however, if a cadet performs beyond the maximum standard required, they can place on an extended scale giving them a much higher score. Each member of Appalachian’s Ranger Challenge team scored a 300 or higher on the test giving the team an average score of 333. The cadet with the highest score was Jorge Maldonado scoring 371.

The Appalachian State ROTC Ranger Challenge team thanks all of the people involved in helping them get to the competition. The team’s coach, Master Sgt. Arbogast, dedicated his personal time to ensure they were prepared to perform their best. Lt. Col. Haines “Andy” Kilgore, Capt. Richard Myers, and Sgt. First Class Jeremy Stout also provided support support. Sun Rise Grill and the Braxton Bragg chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army provided donations to defray travel expenses. They also thank the university’s administration for allowing the cadets flexible with their class schedules.