The Wheaton Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets returned this weekend with a first place victory after competing at the Buddy Ranger competition hosted by the University of Kansas.
On April 9, a team of Wheaton cadets comprised of five male, two female and three co-ed pairs competed against over 100 schools including the University of Notre Dame and the University of Minnesota and crossed the finish line first.
Seniors Matt Cox and Tim Henry won second place in the male division, sophomores Kendall Jones and Will McKinnon placed fifth in the co-ed division, and juniors Sarah Runey and Abby Burgdorf placed first in the female division. Burgdorf, who is the captain of the Ranger Challenge program, proudly described this win as a “true testament to the high caliber of our teams.”
Since the beginning of spring semester, the competing team trained at least once a week by carrying weighted rucksacks weighing from 35 to 55 pounds depending on whether the team was quickly walking or running. In the fall, the team practiced by squatting with logs in the early morning, rain or shine.
Their goal was to reach nine miles as fast as possible, and the competition required them to complete the course while wearing their full combat uniform, carrying a rifle and lifting a 35-pound rucksack under two hours and 15 minutes. While most of the competing teams were unable to finish the ruck run under the time deadline and were disqualified, the Wheaton team persevered and qualified to place.
The tournament began on Saturday morning at 5:15 a.m. with the 15-kilometer ruck run followed by a skills events at four different stations. Assigned tasks ranged from carrying a litter with a heavy dummy lying on it for about 300 meters, to performing a functions check on a M4 rifle to throwing grenades at targets. The start time for the male and female teams were staggered to avoid a buildup at the skills stations.
Freshman Noah Kingsbury described the intensity of practice and the tournament itself as “the most mentally and physically brutal experience of my life.” He estimated that during the tournament alone, he burned over 6,000 calories due to the high physical exertion and repetition. Despite the soreness that he is still feeling days after the tournament, Kingsbury said that he intends to try out every year he can.