Cougs place tenth in military-style challenge

After completing an eight-mile march and a World War II-style physical fitness test, a team of WSU students placed 10th out of 33 teams in the Northwest Regional ROTC Ranger Challenge in Fort Lewis.

The WSU Cougar Battalion, a group of ROTC cadets, competed Friday and Saturday in rigorous physical and mental challenges. Rivals included teams from Guam, Hawaii and Alaska.

Cadets carried a simulated casualty for half of the march, which included an elevation increase of more than 300 feet. Other challenges included an intensive obstacle course, weapons simulations and nighttime land navigation.

“Each event put the team in a position in which they had to quickly come up with a plan, show extreme teamwork and physical dexterity,” said Master Sgt. Robert Baca, a senior military instructor.

To increase the difficulty of the challenges, coordinators added heavy weights, and talking was often not allowed, Baca said.

Baca said nursing major Hannah Johnson was an outstanding member of the team, especially as she is a freshman.

“When she’s a senior she’s definitely going to be a squad leader,” Baca said.

Johnson said the challenge tested teamwork skills and physical endurance and taught her a lot about ROTC and the military.

“Honestly it was one of the best weekends ever,” she said. “It was really tough at times, but overall it was a really rewarding experience.”

Baca said the obstacles were especially challenging because they were completely new to every cadet.

“For every member of the team, every obstacle was a learning experience because it was something they’ve never seen,” he said.

The challenge required that cadets complete mental tests between physical obstacles. The two timed, written tests checked for basic military knowledge as well as information acquired during the exercises.

Baca said the written tests were difficult because cadets took them while mentally and physically exhausted. “It’s physically demanding,” he said.

Johnson said phrases like “Too Easy” and “Embrace the Suck” were the mantra of the WSU team.

“Even though it really was difficult, it was too easy, because we knew we could do it,” she said.