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Appalachian’s Mountaineer Battalion wins ROTC Ranger Challenge competition

BOONE – The Mountaineer Battalion’s Ranger Challenge Team from the ROTC program at Appalachian State University won first place in the Victory Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at Fort Jackson, S.C.

 physicsawards_m.jpg Members of the Mountaineer Battalion Ranger Challenge Team from Appalachian State University won the Victory Brigade Range Competition held at Fort Jackson, S.C. Members of the team include (front row) Sam Wellborn holding the team guidon (banner). Pictured second row from left are Lt. Col. Andy Kilgore (professor of military science), Joseph Beckman, Spencer McKinney, Alex Sika, Joshua Grimsley (captain), Michael Hoffman (co-captain), Jorge Maldonado, Maj. George Beitzel and Sgt. Maj. Karl Arbogast. Pictured third row from left are 2nd Lt. Scott DiMaio (assistant coach), 2nd Lt. Gabe Stahl (assistant coach), Nick McFarlane, Mitchell Joslin, Ben Allumbaugh, Eric Klein and Steven Moy.

Ranger Challenge is the varsity sport of Army ROTC. Winning the competitions is comparable to winning a conference championship.

“We were really impressed with the team this year,” said 2nd Lt. Scott DiMaio, who is the assistant training officer with the ROTC program at Appalachian. “The cadets really stepped up at the completion.”

DeMaio competed in the challenge while an undergraduate at Appalachian and was the team’s assistant coach.

“It’s always nice to see a team grow physically and mentally as they prepare for the competition,” he said. “The training for the competition was pretty intense. Our physical fitness training sessions ran from 5:45-7 a.m. five days a week, in addition to some supplemental weekend training to get to the caliber we needed to win the competition.”

The competition featured eight events. It began with an evening land navigation/patrolling exam, which was followed the next morning with the Army physical fitness test (two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run); M16 assembly/disassembly and functions check; orienteering; hand grenade assault course; squad assault course; and basic rifle marksmanship. The cadets then completed a 10-kilometer road march while wearing a 35-pound rucksack and carrying an M16 rifle. The individual events all occurred within a 12-hour period.

Appalachian’s cadets won two of the events and placed in the top three on five others to win the overall competition. The Citadel won second place and the University of Memphis won third place.

Team captain Josh Grimsley said members of the team began training in September for the competition. Preparing the team for the competition helped Grimsley develop leadership skills that he will use as an officer in the U.S. Army, he said.

“I gained knowledge in planning and how to evaluate an individual’s skills,” he said. This is the fourth year that Grimsley, a senior international public relations major from Pinehurst, has competed in the competition.

“As captain, I had the opportunity to help build the team, contribute to the physical fitness training plan. I didn’t realize how much work went into the competition,” he said. Grimsley will join the infantry as a second lieutenant following graduation in May.

Michael Hoffman, a junior international comparative politics major from Pinehurst, was the team co-captain. He said he learned how to evaluate team members in order to develop a winning team.

Appalachian’s team was comprised of 10 ROTC cadets ranging from sophomores to seniors.

They competed against teams from The Citadel, Wofford University, Furman University, University of South Carolina, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Tennessee Martin, East Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Clemson University, Austin Peay University, Carson-Newman College, Presbyterian College, and Middle Tennessee State University.