National Raider Challenge raises three JROTC programs to top
By George Whitley
U.S. Army Cadet Command
FORT MONROE,Va. — Three Army JROTC programs captured the top prizes at the recent National Raider Challenge Championship.
Smith-Cotton High School in Missouri won the mixed division. Francis Lewis High School in New York topped the female division, and Paulding County High School in Georgia took the male division title.
The third annual two-day competition, held last month at the Gerald I. Lawhorn Scouting Base in Molena, Ga., featured a record 64 teams representing 35 high schools from around the country. Cadets participating were from Army, Navy and Marine Corps programs.
Smith-Cotton edged out Jenkins County High School of Georgia in the mixed division (teams consist of boys and girls), winning three of the five competition categories and finishing second in the other two. Campbell High School, another entry from Georgia, took third overall.
Cadet Earl Manuel, commander of the Smith-Cotton squad, said the victory was significant.
“This was a great experience for all the Cadets on the Smith-Cotton team,” he said. “We put Sedalia, Mo., on the map with this win.”
The team’s success stemmed from the Cadets’ drive, its coach said.
“Our Smith-Cotton team worked hard every day to become this year’s raider national champion,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Bush, the team’s coach. “Our staff and the local community are very proud of the team and what they have accomplished.”
In the female division, this particular group of Francis Lewis High School Cadets had only been working together for a couple of months. Considering their inexperience, the win stunned the team’s coach, retired Master Sgt. Pete Rompf.
“Every night I’m laying in bed saying, ‘We won,’ ” he said. “I still can’t believe it. It was the biggest thrill for me since I’ve been here.”
Grissom High School of Huntsville, Ala., placed second in the female division, with Richmond Hill High School, of Richmond Hill, Ga., third.
Coming in behind Paulding County High School, of Dallas, Ga., in the male division were Francis Lewis High School, which was second, and Grissom High School, which took third.
The various events Cadets competed in included a physical fitness test, a 5K run, a gauntlet course which each team had to work its way through; a cross-country rescue and a rope-bridge obstacle.
Justin Gates, competition director from Sports Network International, which annually organizes the competition, called this year’s event “exceptional in every aspect.”
“We want to make the raider nationals something every school with a raider program will want to attend,” he said.
Full results and photos of the National Raider Challenge are at: