CU wins local Ranger Challenge, heads to Fort Knox for Nationals

by Brianna Saucier

The Army is all about pushing one’s limits, and on Saturday, Oct. 21, Cedarville’s cadets had the opportunity to do so as they competed in the Ranger Challenge at Central State University.

Cedarville came out on top, winning in all but one of the challenges against Wright State and the University of Dayton.

Due to their success, the team will go on to compete in Fort Knox, Kentucky on Nov. 3 to Nov. 5 against 18 other top schools.

Cedarville was represented by cadets Eli Albright, John Costello, Jacob Day, Jacob Johnson, Dani Lesko, Matt Macklenar, Nate Mason, and Nick Mahek. Reserve members include Nathan Arnold and Zachary Ashley. The team was led by Ranger Company Commander Josh Sheehan. The same members will compete at Fort Knox.

Rangers is the varsity sport of the Army, one that requires cadets to pass a five mile run along with pushups and situps to get in the elite group. If they achieve this, the cadets must then compete to earn a spot on the nine-man team.

Upon securing a place in Rangers, all members attend early morning workouts five days a week to prepare for the competition.

The Ranger Challenge tests participants’ physical and mental endurance through several areas. The range of activities competed in include a six mile ruck march with a 35lb pack, the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), 15 yard rope bridge construction, land navigation, and two mental challenges.

Competition day began with cadets given three minutes to memorize as many items on the table as a team. They are then quizzed on these items five hours later at the end of the day after all the other events.

“My favorite part was when we did our rope bridge challenge,” senior Johnson said. “We did it in record time, which was huge for us. We had been practicing it every week [for the past two months]. We did it in 11.5 minutes in practice, yet got it down to 10.5 minutes in the competition.”

The cadets did particularly well in the APFT, which consists of a three mile run, followed by three minutes each of pushups and situps.

In the three mile run, all of Cedarville’s cadets completed the course before any of the other runners from the other two schools.

Other highlights of the event were Lesko executing 140 situps in three minutes and several team member beating their personal record with their times in the six-mile ruck march.

These events were graded and tallied against other teams.

“We did pretty good, but there’s room to improve,” Johnson said. “I feel confident about where we are.”

The collective scores of the Cedarville team were enough to help the team move on to the next competition at Fort Knox.

“The Brigade Competition at Fort Knox is physically and mentally demanding,” Sheehan said. “We are going up against some steep competition in Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Indiana, but with the cadets on the team this year, I think we have a great shot at winning and advancing to the Sandhurst competition in the spring.”

To strengthen their performance in previous years, Sheehan made adjustments in training such as their approach to the ruck march. While their new methods proved to be effective, Mahek attributes their success to God.

“[My] first competition was extremely challenging, but lots of fun,” freshman Mahek said. “I know for a fact that God played a big part in that for us as a team. We were relying on Him to give us a victory and He allowed us to snag it at the end of the day.”

Despite adding new members to the team and undergoing training at early hours in the morning, the team remains confident and positive about the weeks to come.

“Personally, I don’t really know what to expect going into these next two weeks of training as far as Fort Knox goes,” Mahek said. “But what I do know is that we are going to continue working as hard as we possibly can to bring glory to God and kick some butt for the ROTC program.”

Brianna Saucier is a freshman English major for Cedars. She enjoys soccer, photography, and Army ROTC.

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