Cadets take third in challenge
On Oct. 23-24, 11 Cameron ROTC students traveled to Fort Gruber, Oklahoma, where they received third place in the Ranger Challenge after competing against twelve other schools, including University of Arkansas, Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University.
Lt. Col. Treschl, a professor of military science, said the purpose of the Ranger Challenge is to test cadets both physically and mentally.
“[Schools] send their best cadets to go and compete in a challenge that takes about 36 hours,” Treschl said. “They’re competing with their friends … [It’s] a healthy competition between other schools, but at the end of the day, they’re all wearing the same uniform. They’re part of the same organization.”
Treschl said Cameron students competed really well, and the way they worked together surprised him.
“They functioned as a team and not as eleven individuals,” he said. “It was really eye-opening to me. … It wasn’t [that] people just ran as fast as they could and left their teammate behind. It was everybody helped everybody else.”
Junior Donovan Heintzman, a biology major, competed in Ranger Challenge and said it consisted of several events.
“There was an event called the one-rope bridge,” he said. “It’s just one rope tied across this creek, and you have to get all of your personnel across that creek without touching the water or anything.
“There was a causality lane; it’s called TCCC, which is tactical combat causality care, and they gave us a simulated gun-shot wound to one of our team members, and we had to treat that effectively and call for a medevac.”
Heintzman’s favorite activity of Ranger Challenge was the assembly and disassembly of weapons.
“It was a struggle for me at first,” he said, “and then by the time competition came, I was able to do it in under a minute. … It was really motivating to me and rewarding to me to see all that practice hadn’t gone to waste. Our team actually posted the fastest times at the competition for the assembly and disassembly of the weapons.”
According to Heintzman, he and his team prepared for the Ranger Challenge by doing physical training (PT) Monday through Friday, instead of just three times a week.
“It was six weeks that we did [PT] every day,” Heintzman said. “We started at 5:30 a.m. and ended about 7 a.m.”
“There was a lot of running and conditioning,” Heintzman said, “but as time drew near to the competition, we focused more on the events.
“We would tie our one-rope bridge to different trees, or we would work with mock hand grenades and practice throwing those at targets. We actually went to Fort Sill and worked with the weapons.”
Heintzman said from competing in Ranger Challenge, he gained teamwork and leadership skills, just as Treschl had recognized.
“There were still times where it was important that someone else would take charge,” Heintzman said, “and you just have to be confident in your leadership abilities … so being able to identify our strengths and our weaknesses throughout the competition was essential to our success.”
To Heintzman, teamwork is a valuable skill even when a group of people are not participating in a competitive event.
“I think my favorite part [of ROTC] is being a member of the team,” Heintzman said. “You grow together, … you go through the same struggles day in and day out. They know what it’s like to have PT. They know what it’s like to not have any free time.
“That’s definitely my favorite part about it – knowing that you have someone that is sharing your struggles, and you can talk to them about it.”
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