MU ROTC Tiger Battalion Ranger Challenge Team places first in Ranger Challenge competition

Members of the ROTC Tiger Battalion Ranger Challenge Team trained their way to first place in a recent challenge competition.
The Mizzou Army ROTC Tiger Battalion Ranger Challenge team placed first in the regional Ranger Challenge competition this October for the first time in seven years. Courtesy of Facebook via @universityofmissouriarmyrotc

The mission of Army ROTC, according to its website, is “to commission the future officer leadership of the U.S. Army and to motivate young people to be better citizens.” One of the ways MU’s ROTC lives by the mission is by having challenge teams like the Tiger Battalion Ranger Challenge team.

ROTC students participated in a trial at the beginning of the semester where students participated in a ruck. Whoever was the fastest was selected for the team. A ruck is a challenge where ROTC members pack their rucksacks with items off of a strict packing list and run with the rucksack on their backs. The requirement was 35 pounds per rucksack.

The intense training for the challenge began day one of the 2019-2020 academic year. The team members wake up at 5 a.m. every day, do either workouts or ROTC classes and then go to their normal academic classes.

Since the main portion of the event was 16 miles of rucking, to prepare for the challenge, the team did ruck sets. To train for the event, the team members would increase its distance by a mile every Friday. In addition to increasing their distance, every Monday was named their “long run days” and every Wednesday was their “hill days,” due to the course having a lot of hills.

The team’s captain, Micah Gwinn, is the only senior on the challenge team. His strategy to win the challenge was to run up until the hills where they would then walk quickly.

The hills pose a challenge to many team members, and Gwinn knew to focus on the hills when the team was training.

“I knew that was what was going to hurt a lot of people,” Gwinn said.

For the next challenge, the team is given less information on what to expect. The team is expected to know the general knowledge based out of the Ranger Handbook, which is the Army’s textbook.

A lot of the events include functional workouts, which are called Army Combat Fitness Tests. They are based on one’s branch or what one’s job is in the military. Since the challenge team is cadets and are on the infantry standard, its members will be on the hardest standard at the next challenge.

“I feel the regional challenge was more knowledge based,” Gwinn said. “It was all focused on knowing what we needed to do. [Then] this one I think is going to be more physical and getting good times and being fast.”

If the team wins the next challenge, it will participate in a three-day challenge at Sandhurst, which is a big competition at The U.S. Military Academy at West Point Military College. It will be seeing and competing against both national and international teams.

The members of the team were inspired in many ways to be in ROTC at MU. One team member, junior Michael Todd, had family in the military and knew it was something he was interested in.

“What keeps me around is the opportunity to lead and develop both myself and the other cadets,” Todd said.

Another team member, sophomore Grant Poppe, is also connected to the Army through family history. He knew that ROTC was the correct path for him, and it enabled him to follow in the footsteps of his family members.

“My dad is an officer in the Army right now, and my grandparents and great-grandparents all served in the Army, so it’s a family thing,” Poppe said. “I grew up around it, and I always knew I wanted to do it from when I was little, and it was the best path for it.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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