ROTC participates in Ranger Challenge competition

Margaret Ylitalo

Three teams of NMU ROTC cadets will travel to Fort McCoy, near Sparta, Wis., next weekend to compete against other schools in a Ranger Challenge competition.

Competitive events include a Humvee pull; night land navigation; Army Physical Fitness Test; one rope bridge; litter carry, during which cadets carry a 180-pound person up and down a hill on a stretcher; grenade assault course, an obstacle course that involves throwing grenades; and tire flip.

Senior Spanish major Cadet Morgan Steele was captain last year and has competed in the past three Ranger Challenges.

She said she looks forward to the weekend after training all semester.

“It’s probably my favorite event of the entire year,” Steele said. “You’re so tired and you hate life for those two days, three days, and then you look back when you’re done, and it’s like, ‘Man, I accomplished so much,’ and you’re so proud of yourself.”

The schools that are competing are University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Lacrosse, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, Marquette University, Michigan Tech University, and NMU.

Steele said it is ROTC’s sporting event, with team bonds that outlast graduation. She still talks to her teammates from last year’s competition.

“The friendships that you develop, it’s just like any sports team,” Steele said. “You’re going to have your cliques, you’re going to have your issues, at times you’re going to hate each other, and that’s where the tiredness comes out and the complete moodiness, but at the end of the day you’re best friends again, and it’s really awesome to have those girls in your life.”

Marquette University is NMU’s biggest rival, Steele said, and the best NMU has ever done is to finish second to them last year.

“Anything we did better than Marquette, we were happy with,” Steele said. “We didn’t care if we lost as long as we beat Marquette, and we ended up coming in second place to them, which was almost a heartbreaker, but just finishing in second place was good enough for us at that point, but we beat them in a couple events and were like, ‘Yeah, in your face.’”

Though there are first, second and third place trophies, cadets don’t compete for recognition, Steele said.
“It’s not really about awards. It’s just that pride that you have to beat another school that’s your rival,” Steele said. “That’s what I love. I played soccer for seventeen years, and I live for that.”

Assistant professor of military science, Benjamin Hormann, is one of the cadre that helps coordinate the event and makes sure cadets prepare well for it.

If the teams do not win, Hormann said, the cadre ask themselves what they could have done to better help cadets prepare.

He said he is excited about the weekend, but it will be a break when it’s over.

“We don’t send them to have fun,” Hormann said. “We send them to win.”

The Ranger Competition takes place each year during the first weekend of October. Parents are allowed to watch the events but non ROTC students can not.