By Elizabeth Schleicher
Fourteen Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps teams battled their way through the eighth annual Smith-Cotton JROTC Raider Meet on Saturday at the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
Despite the cold snap, teams from three states took to the fairgrounds before sunrise for the Raider Meet, a series of grueling physical and teamwork challenges designed to test their strength, speed, endurance and communications skills. Smith-Cotton High School’s JROTC Tiger Battalion hosted the event, helping set up and organize the day’s activities and calculate scores, as well as fielding two competitive teams.
“This is our big one for our school ... they practice and train throughout the school year,” said Tiger Battalion command sergeant major Jordyn Kemp, speaking to the Democrat the day before the meet.
Kemp, who helped organize rather than compete in the day’s events, said planning and carrying out the Raider Meet was a “big task” requiring
teamwork and preparation.
“It helps us prepare and develop leadership skills, and we all have to work together to get the whole thing organized, and then we all get to use our skills on this one day,” added Hannah Ott, Tiger Battalion commander.
Smith-Cotton’s skills shone through on several of the Raider Meet events, including the physical training test, where their Black Team took third place; the biathlon, in which the Black Team received second place, and the 10-kilometer road march, where Smith-Cotton’s Gold Team took third. Smith-Cotton’s Black Team also received second place overall. Other Raider Meet challenges included a one-rope bridge event, a leadership reaction challenge designed to test communications skills, a “Raider Challenge” circuit and a surprise event, which involved a 1.1-mile run while carrying two rucksacks of 45 pounds each and a sandbag of 60 pounds.
At the 3 p.m. awards ceremony, retired Lieutenant Colonel Harry Cunningham, senior Army instructor for the Smith-Cotton JROTC, thanked the parents, battalion staff, visitors and judges who assembled in Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall and commended the JROTC cadets for their committment and dedication to the day’s events.
Tony Gallagher, of Sedalia’s 40 & 8 organization, also addressed the crowd of uniformed high school students.
“We are proud to have you here ... you’re all winners,” he said.
The Raider Meet’s big winners were the Des Moines, Ia., Central Campus Red Bull Raiders, who received first place in five of the meet’s seven events and first place overall.
“We’ve been practicing a lot and training for it,” said Red Bull Battalion commander Frank Kelly. “We’ve come a long way from last year.” Kelly said the Des Moines team was confident but did not expect to have such a commanding presence at the meet.
“I believe it shows reputation for our school and our program and improves our cadets in many ways,” he said.
Overall: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st; Smith-Cotton Black Team, 2nd; Leavenworth Team One, 3rd
PT Test: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st; Waynesville Team One, 2nd; Smith-Cotton Black Team, 3rd
Biathlon: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st; Smith-Cotton Black Team, 2nd; Waynesville Team One, 3rd
10K Road March: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st, Smith-Cotton Black Team, 2nd; Smith-Cotton Gold Team, 3rd
One-Rope Bridge: Leavenworth Team One, 1st; Waynesville Team One, 2nd; Des Moines Central Campus, 3rd
Raider Challenge: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st; Waynesville Team One, 2nd; Leavenworth Team One, 3rd
Leadership Reaction Challenge: Leavenworth Team One, 1st; Des Moines Central Campus, 2nd; Leavenworth Team Two, 3rd
Surprise Event: Des Moines Central Campus, 1st; Waynesville Team One, 2nd; Leavenworth Team One, 3rd.