A UW-La Crosse ROTC Eagle Battalion team came away as champions during the recent statewide Task Force Ranger Challenge at Fort McCoy.
The university’s Alpha Team won the Nine-Cadet Coed Team category, beating 14 other teams representing seven universities in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Ranger Challenge is the varsity sport for Army ROTC cadets. The challenge consists of 10 events, all testing the mental and physical ability of each cadet.
The Eagle Battalion sent three teams to the Oct. 14-16 challenge: two nine-cadet coed teams and one five-cadet, all-female team.
After the opening ceremony on Friday, the challenge began with an obstacle course and a confidence course. Both courses test a cadet’s physical strength and ability to work as a team. Friday night concluded with a written exam of 100 questions on military knowledge taught in military science courses.
The main event kicked off early Saturday morning. Each team was equipped with a map and grid coordinates to five different check points. To test land navigation ability, all teams had to plot their assigned points and ruck to them. Once each team arrived at their check point they were tested on different military skills and tactics. The five skills tested included a medical lane, call for fire, rope bridge, weapons assembly, and react to contact. The final event was a 15-mile ruck march Saturday night.
Before the challenge, cadets put in a tremendous amount of physical and skills training, says Eagle Battalion Ranger Challenge Coach Cadet Conner McDonnell.
“I had to show participants the proper technique for the skills portion of Ranger Challenge in accordance with the standards provided from different ROTC detachments,” McDonnell explains. “We all trained hard in preparation for the events.”
Despite the demanding competition, the Eagle Battalion’s alpha nine-cadet coed team won seven of the 10 different challenges. They will compete at the 3rd ROTC Brigade Ranger Challenge in early November
Team member Alex Haffner says the ability to work as a team under exhausting conditions taught all participants a lesson in determination and positive mental attitude. “The competition was much harder than last year, and the ruck was mentally one of the hardest things I have ever done,” notes Haffner. “Overall, we were prepared for the events and worked extremely well as a team.”
Cadets in the competition left with a variety of skills to apply in their future military careers.