PULLMAN — The U.S. Army Ranger ROTC Challenge team from Washington State University advances to the next round after taking second place in last week’s Task Force East regional competition.
Ranger Challenge acts as the varsity sport of the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Each team is made up of nine cadets who are tested individually and as a team in various challenges. These events range from physical fitness exams to simulated operations similar to those they will undertake as officers once they complete the ROTC program.
Thanks to their strong placement, team members from the Cougar Battalion will continue to represent WSU in the 8th Brigade Ranger Challenge competition Jan. 26-29 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At this event, Cougs will face five other teams, including Gonzaga, who won the regional Task Force East competition.
The top two teams from this event will then compete in the US Army Cadet Command Ranger Challenge Finals.
“The Palouse threw all it had to offer weather-wise to the 10 competing teams with conditions ranging from snow, hail, high winds and freezing rain during the 36-hour competition,” Lt. Col. Matthew Sheftic, who oversees the US Army’s ROTC program at WSU, said. “It was inspiring to see our Cougar Battalion team rise to the occasion through their mental toughness, resilience and teamwork to place in the top two teams coming out of TF East to advance to the next round.”
Teams from across the western United States found the track next to Martin Stadium covered in heavy snow Friday morning ahead of the fitness testing portion of the regional event. Things only got worse from there, as the falling winter mix turned into heavy wind-driven rain.
Despite the weather, the teams got down to business, shouting encouragement as their fellow cadets did as many deadlifts, push-ups and sprints as they could. Other events have seen cadets throw heavy medicine balls up to 10 meters and run across frozen fields with kettlebells in each hand.
After the morning field trials, the teams put on their backpacks weighing between 35 and 40 pounds and gathered in front of the Cougar statue. Each five-minute interval saw a team line up and begin the arduous 15-mile road march through the University of Idaho campus and into the next phase of the competition.
The rest of the weekend saw teams compete in various military skills competitions and weapons familiarization events at Camp Grizzly.