FORT KNOX, Ky. — After months of competitions across the country, all eight of Cadet Command’s brigades have named their Ranger Challenge winners.
Cadets have endured a wide assortment of challenges, from ruck marches to obstacles courses and being tested in Soldier skills, to heat and humidity in the south and rain and near freezing temperatures in the north. At the end of it all though, the Cadets get to walk away with a sense of accomplishment and knowing they have completed something only a small number attempt — testing their grit and leadership abilities in a Ranger Challenge.
Col. Matthew Rauscher, 2nd Brigade commander, said it takes a certain kind of person to take on Ranger Challenge.
“Ranger Challenge is an amazing thing because it’s all voluntary. Once they make it on the team, they go through countless hours of training and self-sacrifice while finding the motivation to do it,” he said. “Being able to come out here and critically think about the problems we’ve thrown at them separates them from those who don’t take up the challenge.”
He added, the challenges of the event help build the Cadet’s leadership abilities as they learn teamwork.
“It teaches them several things, the ability to understand your team, its capabilities and the advantages and disadvantages of that team,” said Rauscher. “That’s what makes great leaders – how to care for their Soldiers and still be able to accomplish the mission and do it right.”
Col. Sean Barnes, 1st Brigade commander, said his brigade’s Ranger Challenge is built with several end results in mind for those willing to take up the trials of the weekend.
“This is just another step in testing and assessing the character of our young men and women who want to make the military their profession, but even more important it’s about making leaders,” he said. “We’ve been able to put them under tough conditions this weekend and test basic soldiering skills, how to critically think, and how to work as a team.
“At the end of the day though, it’s all about making leaders today that can lead change tomorrow,” he added.
Cadet Sam Rooker, who was on the Virginia Military Institute team for his third year, said he keeps coming back to compete because he enjoys doing something only a select few do.
“I do it because it’s a little more challenging than everything else in ROTC,” said Rooker. “You have to understand that this is an incredibly physically demanding competition, which is great, but it can suck. If you like that kind of thing it can be great for you.”
The winners of each brigade’s Ranger Challenge are:
1st Brigade — First place – University of North Georgia Team A, Second place – Texas A&M Team A, Third place – Virginia Tech Team A
2nd Brigade — First place – Temple University, Second place – Penn State, Third place – Lehigh University
3rd Brigade — First place 9-Person Team – Iowa State University, First place 5-Person Team – Iowa State University, Second place 9-Person Team – Wheaton College, Second place 5-Person Team – Marquette University, Third place 9-Person Team – Marquette University, Third place 5-Person Team: South Dakota State University
4th Brigade — First place – Georgetown, Second place – Wake Forest, Third place – University of North Carolina
5th Brigade — First Place — Brigham Young University, Second Place — University of Texas — Austin, Third Place — Tarleton State University
6th Brigade — First Place – University of Alabama, Second place – Florida State University, Third place -Auburn University of Montgomery
7th Brigade — First place – Michigan State University, Second place – Ohio University, Third place – Central State University
8th Brigade — First Place — University of Washington, Second Place — Claremont McKenna College, Third Place — Boise State University
The winners for each brigade’s Ranger Challenge will represent their brigade against international military academies, seven other ROTC programs, and four U.S. service academies at West Point for the 2018 Sandhurst Military Skills Competition taking place in April.