Earlier this month, the Oregon State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, won the Task Force West Ranger Challenge Competition. The team was formed by 10 students from OSU.
The annual Task Force West event took place at Camp Rilea in Northwest Oregon on Nov. 2-3. This competition consisted of a 12-mile timed course with challenges such as marksmanship ranges, camouflage, tactical casualty care, call for fire, obstacle course and a spot report followed by nighttime land navigation. Ten teams from across Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam competed to determine the best team from their respective universities.
Every year the ROTC holds tryouts to select the team that is going to compete at the TF West event. The tryouts this year began on the second week of fall term. These tryouts consist of several sessions of physical activity, and a ruck march.
“Once we had a solid team selected, we trained every weekday morning for almost a month for the competition,” said Cadet Jack Roberts, business administration student, via email. Roberts was one of 10 students on the OSU ROTC team.
Ten OSU students were selected for the team to compete at the Ranger Challenge at the beginning of the term. The OSU ROTC team did physical training every morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“We prepared for the competition by waking up at 5 a.m. five days a week to either workout, study the competition material, or practice the competition events,” said Cadet Derek Chen, business administration student, via email. Chen was one of 10 students on the OSU ROTC team.
Outside of training for the competition, the OSU ROTC team members are also college students.
“We wake up for physical training at 6:15 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week, have classes on Tuesday and labs on Thursday. It might sound like a lot, but it is quite manageable,” Roberts said via email. “Some people that have hard majors in the STEM fields have a tougher time with the commitment though. It truly is an amazing opportunity to get to train to be a leader and grow as a person while simultaneously getting a degree.”
In an email, Cadet Hunter Hiatt-Tognoni, environmental sciences student and member of the OSU ROTC team, said being both a college student and an Army ROTC member feels like he is getting the best experience out of college.
“I am able to get more out of the normal college experience by being in ROTC. I am able to have a professional obligation and a program that trains me for my future Army career,” Hiatt-Tognoni, said in an email.
The Ranger Challenge competition was built to challenge military-skills and enhance small unit leadership qualities, to develop teamwork and promote professional development, including military excellence in selected military skills within Eighth Brigade. Oregon State Army ROTC falls under Eighth Brigade, United States Army Cadet Command consisting of eight brigades across all 50 states and territories.
“Ranger Challenge taught me that there is always room to grow in each individual’s ability. This being my first year in the program, I have quickly learned that mental and physical strength is a necessity and this competition only emphasized that even more. This competition teaches you to keep pushing, no matter the circumstances,” said Cadet Sophia Schmiedt, general engineering student, via email. Schmiedt was one of 10 students on the OSU ROTC team.
Since the school year at OSU starts later than other universities competing in the competition, the OSU ROTC team had less time to practice for the competition, according to Roberts
“We have a slight disadvantage with how late we start school in the year. We generally only have three to four weeks to train before the event, while many schools begin much earlier in September or in August, giving them much more time to train,” Roberts, said via email. “Also, we had many more freshmen on the team this year than usual. This brought about the challenge of training them in material they have never heard before. Even with these challenges, we were able to train on what mattered and push ourselves when it counted.”
The team won a first-place trophy and were given coins of excellence from the host university, the University of Oregon. After their victory, the team earned the right to compete in the upcoming brigade competition this January. The members of the team also received an Order of Merit List points that will go towards their national ranking.
“This victory was an outstanding validation of the time and effort the team put in prior to the event. They invested countless hours of their own time working on various aspects of training leading up to this event,” Captain Shawn Plumb, executive officer for the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at OSU, said via email.
In an email, Hiatt-Tognoni said he thinks that working and training as a team for the past five to six weeks has helped his team grow as one unit. He mentioned that everyone on his team wanted to go out and win the competition, and the attitude and moral of every team member helped achieve victory.
“Our team really came together well and bonded. In addition, we had a good mix of returning members and new members who brought their talents to the team,” Master Sergeant Adam C. Nin, said via email. “Lastly, the team had the full support of the cadre at the OSU ROTC Program. In the end, it was their hard work and dedication to excellence that brought home the win for the program.”
If the team wins the upcoming brigade competition in January, the team will earn the right to represent the Eighth Brigade at the Sandhurst Competition, the world’s premier international academy military skills competition.
The brigade competition will take place in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, located in Washington, where the brigade’s three task forces, TF West, TF East, and TF South will compete to earn the right to represent the Eighth Brigade.