Cadets of the Golden Eagle Battalion are leaving today to represent Tech in one of the most difficult competitions of the year.Tomorrow at first light, they will begin the 36-hour Ranger Challenge at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, S.C., and compete against schools across the south in a total of events and a myriad of different challenges.
“We compete against some tough schools,” said Lt. Col. Dunham.”Last year we were sixth out of 18.”
According to one cadet, the Ranger Challenge is seen as the varsity sport of ROTC. The most physically and mentally fit cadets compete as a team against other Ranger Challenge teams from other schools.
This year’s cadet team: two seniors- Cadet Weigel and Cadet Proulx, four juniors- Cadet Carter, Cadet Johnson, Cadet Pelham and Cadet Enicks, four sophomores- Cadet Rice, Cadet Tolliver, Cadet Kerr and Cadet Rankin and two freshman- Cadet McCull and Cadet Kell who will go as extras.
“Drake Carter is our team captain,” Dunham said. “The max on the PT (physical training) test is 300, and he went over it. He is our endurance guy, and he is a great leader too.”
The first event is the Field Examination. Cadets are tested for one hour in a classroom setting on Land Navigation and Patrolling. The total score is the average of all team members’ scores.
The second event is the Army Physical Fitness Test. Teams compete in situps, pushups and a two mile run. Participants must score 70 points in each event. The scores are averaged together for a total of 300 or more points.
“Like I said Carter is our endurance,” Dunham said. “Enicks is our speed guy. He hurt his leg recently, so we don’t know if he will participate. We are playing that by ear at this point.
The third event is the assembly and disassembly of the M16A2. Cadets must disassemble, reassemble and perform a functions check on their M16 rifle within 6 minutes. Teams are rewarded points for average time of completion.
The fourth event is the orienteering challenge. Teams have five minutes to form a strategy to navigate through different markers placed throughout a training course.
Cadets have one hour to locate as many markers as they can. Different markers are worth more based on distance from the teams’ starting point.
The fifth event is a grenade throw. Cadets have five grenades and must engage three targets. To score points the grenade must detonate within five meters of the target.
“The sixth event is the one everyone really likes,” Dunham said. “Cadets get to zero their rifles in on a target.
Then they do more PT and come back and fire again. It gets more interesting the more out of breath and shaky the cadets become.”
Each cadets’ shots fired and hit are averaged with the rest of the team for a point total score.
The final event is the 10k forced road march on Sunday morning. Each cadet wears a helmet, a rucksack, load-bearing equipment and carries an M16A2. Each cadet must finish with his team. Points are based on finish time.
“We’ve been doing extra PT five days a week,” Dunham said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays we do a ruck-march and run. It’s an extra 25 lbs in their rucksack, and it helps build endurance.
“We have been training them on the assembly and disassembly of the M16 too,” Dunham continued. “When the events start, they will be ready.