Central’s ROTC takes first place at 8th brigade Army ROTC Ranger Challenge

Colt Sweetland, Staff Reporter

Central’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Ranger Challenge Team took first place at the 8th brigade Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Feb. 28 and March 1.

The co-ed team was made up of 10 members of Central’s ROTC program.

Codey Paulsen, the ranger challenge team captain and senior law and justice major, said that the competition started slow at first but started to pick up as the event progressed.

“We woke up the next morning and all hell broke loose,” Paulsen said.

According to Paulsen, the team was sent into a run in which all of the members had 35 pounds of gear to carry over a two mile distance, called a ruck run.

“We get to the beach eventually, and they fake injured [Bofinger], so we had to carry her for two miles with no special equipment to help us,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen said that the people in charge of the competition wanted to make the challenges a mystery so that the ranger challenge teams would make decisions under pressure.

“They want you to try to make a decision while you can barely think, and I thought we did a really good job of that,” Paulsen said.

On the first day, Central’s challenge team completed a WWII physical fitness test that focused primarily on the soldier’s leg and knee strength, since WWII was when soldiers first started jumping out of airplanes, according to Paulsen.

“You’d get up to walk, and the next minute you’re ready to fall over,” Bofinger, a junior law and justice major, said.

James Long, a senior law and justice major, said the competition coordinators wanted to include a variety of events that cadets hadn’t trained for.

According to Paulsen, Central’s ranger challenge team excelled at the ruck run and placed within the top five in most of the events.

“We were consistent throughout the whole competition, and that’s what really did it for us,” Paulsen said.

The most challenging event for the challenge team was the ruck run, according to Paulsen.

“We literally would not have gotten through it if it wasn’t for our team effort, because it was very physically and mentally demanding,” Paulsen said.

The announcer named the top 10 out of the 31 competing teams. Paulsen said that the list started off with Washington State University at number 10.

“Immediately, my heart almost ripped out of my shirt because I thought they still might be saying Central,” Paulsen said.

Gonzaga University received second place in the Ranger Challenge Competition, according to Paulsen.

“We have a little bit of a rivalry with Gonzaga, so it was really sweet to beat them by a little bit,” Paulsen said.

Central’s ROTC team has received first place several times before, in the previous 15 years that they have competed at the Ranger Challenge Competition.

“I think it’s just the drive we have because we are a small school compared to the others,” Long said.

Long also said that constructing the rope bridge was his personal favorite event of the competition.

“We were able to complete two rope bridges before one of the teams that started before us was able to complete one bridge,” Long said.

On April 11 in West Point, Central will be competing against teams from around the world at the Sandhurst competition.

“For a little school like Central, it’s a huge opportunity for us to bring credit to the school, to the program, and we get to go to New York,” Paulsen said.