Focusing on consistency and teamwork proved vital in the Golden Gopher Battalion’s win at the Army ROTC Ranger Challenge held last weekend at Camp Ripley, Minn.
The Oct. 17 win vindicated last year’s last-place finish and ended St. John’s University’s 12-year reign as Ranger Challenge champions.
“Other people watching said, ‘Hey, this team’s different from the rest,'” said cadet Jon Moreen, a College of Education and Human Development junior.
The University squad, consisting of nine competitors and one alternate, battled in six events testing physical and mental capabilities. Ten teams of student cadets from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota participated.
Competitions held at the two-day event included:
ù an Army Physical Fitness Test, composed of a two-mile run, sit-ups and push-ups;
ù an orientation exercise, recording locations found using a map and a compass;
ù a weapons drill, testing time required for weapons maintenance;
ù a 40-foot obstacle requiring cadets to walk eight feet above the ground by making only three knots in a 120-foot rope;
ù a hand-grenade course measuring accuracy and efficiency; and
ù a 10-kilometer road march completed while carrying a 40-pound rucksack and wearing battle dress uniforms.
All team members were required to compete in every event. Professional soldiers judged cadets’ performances.
Although receiving only one first-place finish, in the hand-grenade course, the University squad gathered four second-place event finishes and a third-place finish, in the road march.
“We were consistent in every event, and that’s what separated us,” Moreen said.
Rob Yopps, a sophomore cadet majoring in general management and finance, said the University’s conversion to semesters allowed for more training this year.
“It gave us time to make sure that we trained well and were up to standard for each event,” he said.
The Ranger Team trained for six weeks, generally meeting five times a week for two-hour sessions starting at 6 a.m.
“Teamwork was our focus from beginning to end, and we had ten guys who understood that,” Moreen said.
For instance, during the road march the squad demonstrated more team cohesion by staying within 20 meters of each other, he said.
All members of the University Army ROTC had an opportunity to participate on the Ranger Challenge team, Yopps said.
“(These) are the more fun things you get to do in Army ROTC, but it’s tough training and a big time commitment,” he added.