Cadets take on Ranger Challenge

Andrew Turner

Andrew Turner

Football and basketball are two of the many sports commonly known among college students. The Ranger Challenge is a competition that is less known but equally demanding.

Cadets from SDSU’s Army ROTC battalion traveled to Camp Ripley, Minn., and brought home third place in the rigorous multi-event competition on the weekend of Oct. 10.

“It goes back 25 years or longer,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Russel Chavez, the senior military instructor at Army ROTC and coach for the SDSU Ranger Challenge team.

Ranger Challenge gives cadets a chance to compete against seven other schools with a total of 10 teams, said Chavez.

“It was cool to see other cadets in the same boat as you,” said Cadet Jessica Heuser, a freshman nursing major from Glencoe, Minn.

“It gives them pride in the unit,” said Chavez. “It gives them a chance to do something they’ve never done before, events that they normally wouldn’t get the chance to do back here at the unit.”

Ranger Challenge used to be voluntary, said Chavez. Each battalion is now required to have a team because of the pride that it builds in the cadets for their battalion.

“My biggest challenge this year was getting enough consistent people competing for Ranger Challenge,” said Chavez. “It takes so much dedication to do it at the beginning of the year.”

Cadets began training several months before Ranger Challenge.

Getting ready for the competition was not an easy task, said Hueser. The team met at 6:15 a.m. five days a week and worked out for an hour and half. Training consisted of various exercises, including long distance running, abdominal exercises and endurance exercises.

“We really try to facilitate the cadets doing everything,” said Chavez. “The captain of the team makes up the training schedule, he does a risk assessment, and I approve it.”

Participants of the Ranger Challenge left for Camp Ripley on Oct. 10, said Andrew A. Berreth, a fifth-year civil engineering student from Pierre, S.D., and five-year veteran of the Ranger Challenge.

The morning of Oct. 11 started at 3:45 a.m. with a physical fitness test.

The Army Physical Fitness test consists of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run, said Berreth.

After the physical fitness test, the challenge includes events like land navigation, said Berreth. Other events are one-rope bridge – where cadets have to cross a space with a single rope – a patrolling exercise and rifle marksmanship. The competition ended with a 10-kilometer road march.

“We actually won the patrolling event,” said Chavez. “We also came in second in basic rifle marksmanship and third in one-rope bridge.”

“It was mentally challenging, keeping yourself going,” said Heuser. “Especially on the 10k road march.”

At the end of the weekend, the cadets returned to Brookings with a feeling of accomplishment.

“This year’s successes felt better than the last four years,” said Berreth.

“We’ve practiced since day one of school,” said Heuser. “It’s rewarding to see the outcome of it.”

#1.882330:1436917980.jpg:Ranger.COURTESY.CMYK.jpg:Members of SDSU’s Army ROTC battalion competed in the Weapons Qualification event at Camp Ripley, Minn. Cadets are given M-16 rifles and shoot at paper targets. The more targets they hit, the more points.:Courtesy Photo from Martin Skovly