Soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 1st Lt. Luke Groom and Staff Sgt. Carlos Jimenez, Team 20, emerged victorious in Fort Leonard Wood‘s grueling 11th Best Sapper Competition Thursday.
Groom and Jimenez, assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, defeated 47 other two-man teams and trudged through severe weather during the three-day competition to earn the titles of 2017 Best Sapper.
Both agreed that the weather and miles traveled were tough, but not knowing what was coming next made it even harder.
“Not knowing what was coming next, you don’t know how to allocate your energy,” Groom said. “We just decided, we’re going to do the best we can for as long as we can.”
The teammates stressed that the amount of support they received played a big part in their success.
“I’m very thankful for the support that we received from our families and especially from our unit who months before the competition gave us enough time and resources to train and get ready for it,” Groom said. “During the competition too. We had an overwhelming amount of support here and we really appreciate that.”
The Best Sapper competition took 48 teams across more than 50 miles in 50 hours, from April 25-27.
Placing second and third, respectively, were Team 30, Capt. John Baer and 2nd Lt. Hunter Firebaugh, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Team 28, Capt. Mike Ecklund and Sgt. Arich Erdeski, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Fort Riley, Kansas.