Army ROTC team wins third straight regional competition

FORT DIX, N.J. -- For the third year in a row, Penn State’s Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Team won the 2nd Freedom Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition on Oct. 6. Over a 12-hour period, 45 universities from the region competed in the annual event, including teams from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Pittsburgh.

Each team consisted of nine individuals, with at least one member from each academic class (freshmen through senior) and one female. The teams competed in a wide array of physically and mentally challenging events that tested their military acumen. The tested skills included weapon assembly, obstacle courses, rope bridge, a combat first aid simulator, hand grenade assault course, rappelling and several other events, spanning a 7.5-mile course. Penn State took first place in four individual events and was awarded the title of overall 2nd Brigade Ranger Challenge Champions for a third straight year. Cadet Jacob Ahle (senior; Economics), a four-year member of the team and its current commander, stated “The camaraderie within the team is what helped make the team successful this year.”

This year, the team had less than four weeks to train but brought more experience to the competition than in years past. The cadets sacrificed endless hours, arriving before 5 a.m. every day to conduct rigorous training that would physically prepare them for the challenges and quickly prepare the younger members of the team, all while maintaining a 3.5 or better grade-point average for the group. “The hardest event was the Burden Leg,” said Cadet Taylor Moran (senior; Crime, Law and Justice), a three-year member of the team. The Burden Leg was a timed event requiring teams to carry a 700-plus pound telephone pole over 1 mile without letting it touch the ground. The Penn State team finished as the only team under 10 minutes.

Because of their achievement, the team now has the honor of representing Penn State at the international Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at the U. S. Military Academy in the spring. This will be the third year in a row they have earned that honor. Penn State will be one of only eight other university ROTC teams from across the country that will compete. They will take on more than 30 teams, including those from West Point and foreign countries such as China, Britain, Australia, Canada, Chile, Afghanistan and Thailand. Last year, Penn State improved their placement by more than 30 spots.

The other team members are Alex Buchanan (senior; Mechanical Engineering), Joshua Ciccolini (senior; Crime, Law and Justice), Aaron Felling (junior; Mechanical Engineering), Kirill Zemlyanskiy (junior; International Politics, Strategic Risk Analysis, Russian), Kate Bassett (sophomore; Agricultural Engineering), Johnathan Graham (sophomore; International Politics) and Jacob Boyle (freshmen; Industrial Engineering). Alternates for the event were Andrew Fletcher (sophomore; Crime, Law and Justice), Jodie Villegas (sophomore; Nutrition) and Michael Scott (freshmen; Mechanical Engineering).

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Last Updated November 13, 2012