Cadets compete in Kentucky

Abby Fisher

ROTC travels to Ft. Knox for annual Ranger Challenge

For many Kent State students, 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning marks the end of a very long Friday night.

But for ROTC cadets, it is just the beginning of a day-long Army competition.

Kent State cadets traveled to Ft. Knox, Ky. last week to participate in the annual Ranger Challenge — an event that utilizes practical field skills for soldiers in training.

The nine cadets took part in eight challenges against 30 teams from 21 schools. The events ranged from basic physical training to marksmanship and orienteering —ÿplotting and locating destination points.

The cadets’ best event was the rope bridge, where Kent State finished fourth — a university record. The team had to traverse a single rope across a 7-foot wide creek.

“It’s the one event where the whole team comes together,” said senior technology major Jason Stumpf. “It can either make or break you.”

To even make the team Kent State sends to Kentucky, cadets must take part in a month-long tryout that includes additional physical training.

Freshman accounting major Nick Spicocchi said he trained up to five days a week when the challenge grew closer.

“We started out with about 20 people trying out,” he said. “Cuts were made until we had a team of nine.”

Spicocchi felt the challenge gave him a leg up on other cadets, especially when it came to land navigation — something the first-year cadets have just started in their labs, he said.

“At the challenge, you learn the steps of a point ambush, how to move the correct way and set up your gear,” he said. “It was a great experience and I want to do it again.”

The most difficult aspect of the challenge for Spicocchi was the 10K run that came at the end of an 18-hour day.

“I became really dehydrated,” he said. “The other cadets had to carry me up one hill — I was eating Skittles to get my blood sugar up.”

Don Ackerman, junior political science and history major, aims to make next year’s team and participate in his third Ranger Challenge.

“Next year I want to get first place — or at least beat OSU,” he said. “We can win without a doubt.”

Kent State finished 13th, but because of some administrative discrepancies, they might move up in the ranks. The final results will be released in mid-November, and the team is anticipating a top-10 ranking.

The challenge helped senior finance major Jim Plutt refine his skills.

“It’s good because you can help out the younger people and be more of a leader,” he said. “We learned to set goals and work together as a team.”

Contact ROTC and College of Architecture and Environmental Design reporter Abby Fisher at [email protected].