ROTC cadets take 1st place in Ranger Challenge

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    Members of the Ranger Challenge 2012 championship team are William Forrest, left front row, team captain and squad leader Michael Zuber, Laura Clabbatz, Harrison Fletcher, Jacob Lay and assistant squad leader David Hubner. Pictured back left are Command Sgt. Maj. Steven F. Ziebarth from Fort Bragg, assistant squad leader Eric Manderbach, Daniel May, Andrew Kowal, Marshall Ospina, Christian Quinn and Col. Peter Edmonds from 4th Brigade, Army Cadet Command at Fort Bragg. (Photo by Jeffrey French)

Members of the ROTC program's Ranger Challenge Team have brought home a championship trophy to Appalachian State University. The 11-member team won 1st place in their division in the 4th Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition held in late October at Fort Pickett, Va.

The team will represent the 4th Brigade and Cadet Command at the Sandhurst Competition held at West Point next spring.

ROTC Ranger Challenge is considered a varsity sport at Appalachian—one that tests participants' critical thinking, physical and team skills.

The team members range from freshmen to seniors. They competed against 39 other teams from West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Teams compete against schools with similar ROTC enrollment.

Col. Peter Edmonds, who is in charge of the 4th Brigade, Army Cadet Command based at Fort Bragg, said the two-day competition "is just one indicator of (Appalachian's) quality program that has been developed and sustained over the years and will continue in the future," telling team members they "have represented your school and your ROTC program to the highest level."

He continued, "It's hard to balance the tension between being a student and being a cadet. To go above and beyond to prepare for a completion like this and you have really separated yourself from your peers. And it's an example we all should emulate."

Appalachian also placed first in their division in 2008 and 2004.

"We are developing leaders to do our nation's bidding in the future and this is one of many opportunities we have during the ROTC experience to help reinforce the value of teamwork, being on a team and building that team and overcoming obstacles, challenges and conditions that they can't control, and working together to complete a task or overall mission," Edmonds said.

Cadets began preparing for the event at the start of fall semester, training four to seven times a week. The team captain was sophomore Michael Zuber. The team was coached by 1st Lt. Jordan B. Scanlan from the Department of Military Science and Leadership.

Among events, the cadets had to:

  • construct and cross a one-rope bridge
  • negotiate a tall obstacle course
  • evaluate a simulated casualty and provide First Aid
  • assemble and perform a functions check on an M1 rifle
  • demonstrate marksmanship skills using an M4 rifle

During an awards ceremony Nov. 8 on campus, Edmonds told the cadets, "Somewhere down the line our country is going to ask you to accomplish a very difficult task under very difficult circumstances and conditions. It's that physical, mental and emotional toughness that's going to enable you to make the right decisions for your team, and continue to motivate them and lead by example when it's really tough."

Once commissioned as officers, the cadets could be deployed nationally or internationally for humanitarian or military purposes, he said.

Appalachian's ROTC program is based in the Department of Military Science and Leadership in Appalachian's College of Fine and Applied Arts. Lt. Col. David Cox is chairman of the department.