Posted: April 24, 2012
Central Washington University’s Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Ranger team took top honors at the 46th Annual Sandhurst Competition for military cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point on April 20 and 21. CWU cadets bested all other ROTC teams, including those from the Citadel, and squads from the Air Force, Coast Guard and Naval academies. CWU finished 13th overall, the highest ever for an ROTC team in the history of the Sandhurst competition, which, this year, involved 55 teams, including international squads from Australia, Canada, China, Chile, England, and Spain.
Major Jay Cook, CWU military science professor, said a key reason for the success of the CWU cadets is that they gelled as a team quickly and completely.
“The best equipment, the most talented individuals, and the most elite institutional reputation can’t make up for the lack of comradery and hard work,” said Cook, adding that CWU cadets come to training focused and ready to work. “Wildcat communication and trust is incredibly high. Some schools cultivate individuals; CWU creates amazing teams—and that gives us a remarkable edge when we go into competition.”
Of the 10 events in the competition, CWU’s best score was in the boat movement event, in which the squad placed second overall, completing the task 20 minutes faster than the third-place finisher. CWU also placed third in the rope bridge competition, 15 minutes ahead of the fourth-place team.
The other events included an obstacle course, rappelling down a drop of up to 75 feet, combat casualty first aid and evacuation, marksmanship, weapons assembly and grenade throwing, land navigation, rope-bridge building, an encounter with an mock improvised explosive device involving radio assembly and communication, and the Department of Military Instruction (DMI) challenge. CWU placed eighth in the mystery event that requires both physical and mental toughness.
Team captain Sean Flanagan, a senior from Cle Elum, said the DMI event is designed to make participants think on their feet. In this year’s event, the competitors had to move a 15,000-pound piece of field artillery.
“We had to figure out how to move it through a course, set it at an exact angle, move it back, and reset it,” said Flanagan, adding that the team managed to “stay loose” in spite of the pressure of the competition. “Two cadets crawled out to the end of the Howitzer to act as counter weights and the rest us lifted on the wheel base and rolled it.”
International teams took the top five spots at Sandhurst; CWU placed seventh among all United States teams. CWU represented 8th Brigade at the competition. The 8th brigade encompasses ROTC programs in eight western states and the Pacific Rim. Overall there are 273 ROTC battalions in the US along with cadets from an additional 1,066 universities. Only the top eight are invited to Sandhurst.
Flanagan said a highlight of the competition was getting to mix with cadets from all over world. “It’s a life experience no one will ever forget,” said Flanagan.
CWU boasts a remarkable ROTC tradition. In December 2008 the CWU Wildcat Battalion was named the most outstanding battalion of the nation’s 277 Senior Army ROTC programs. The recognition for the 2007-2008 school year came with the Award for Excellence from the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America, which outstanding moral character and excellence in leadership and scholarship.
CWU’s Sandhurst team included the following cadets: seniors Grant Skallerud, Port Hadlock; Marquis McKiever, Spanaway; and Jessica Myers, Ellensburg; juniors Alex Lograsso, Ripon, California; Logan Johnson, Mount Vernon; sophomores Anthony Godwin, Eatonville; and Michael Coffman, Yakima; and freshman George Madden, Anacortes.
Freshmen Josh Agard, Battle Ground; and Brianna Bofinger, Poulsbo served as the team’s alternates.