OMAHA, NE -- Omaha cadets had to more than overcome the mental and physical challenges of running over a four-mile course carrying a 20lb-ruck sack around Lake Zorinsky on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
They had to do it after completing 6 grueling team events designed to test their mental acuity, physical stamina, and their upper and lower body strength.
The Creighton University ROTC/Omaha Public Schools JROTC Best Cadet Challenge ‘21 featured Army JROTC cadets in team competitions from six area high schools. Teams consisted of 4 males and 1 female at a minimum and one team that competed from Omaha Northwest was all female.
The events consisted of a written land navigation, Conway test (memorization), water carry, push-ups, squats, relay, sled drag and a 4.2 mile foot march with a 20lb ruck sack.
Teams began preparing for the event last spring with the issue of equipment. CSM Brian Folts of Omaha Burke said his team prepared for this year’s competition by practicing three days a week over the summer. Omaha Northwest instructor MSG Eric Penaherrea had come out with his cadets, two weeks earlier to check out the course and had rucked the 4-miles with them, singing cadence songs.
The course challenges the competitor mentally more than physically, in part because the course has long open stretches and the finish line is out of sight.
“You can be as fit as you want, but mentally if you can’t push yourself through it, that’s where it will (end),” said the team commander of the Omaha South team. They crossed the finish first in the ruck march.
In the Co-ed Varsity competition, Central High took first, Northwest second and South third. In the Co-ed JV competition, South, Burke, Northwest. In the Female Division, Northwest took first. All the competitors earned the JROTC Adventure cord.
Creighton Professor of Military Science, LTC Mark Hayes, who hosted the event, said the efforts of the teams were “amazing.” They put a lot of effort into it and they should be proud of their accomplishments today,’ he said.