On Saturday morning, the Smith-Cotton Raiders and 70 other teams from across the United States, including a team from American Samoa, gathered in Molena, Ga., for one of the most difficult competitive events they would ever face.
The S-C Raiders’ day began with the one-rope bridge over a river at a distance of 85 feet, a physical team test (over a quarter-mile course involving a low crawl, a three 30-pound watercan carry, a negotiated obstacle and a running maze), followed by a 5-kilometer team run and the Gauntlet.
The Gauntlet consisted of a two-mile run with five 35-pound backpacks through the mountains of Georgia. The last event was the cross-country rescue that consisted of a mile run through a course that included a first-aid event, a low crawl and an 8-foot wall while carrying six 35-pound backpacks and a 95-pound litter with a simulated casualty.
The mixed team placed first in the physical team test, first in the 5-kilometer team run, first in the Gauntlet and second in the cross-country rescue. They had a disappointing performance on the one-rope bridge, resulting in a 19th place finish in that event.
“We feel very proud of the mixed team for making an amazing comeback after the one-rope bridge event. It shows they truly have a lot of heart,” said team commanders America Lerma and Eric Melgar.
The mixed team’s combined efforts resulted in the team receiving the national champion runnerup trophy at the awards ceremony on Sunday morning.
The male team had a very consistent day with their best performance occurring on the one-rope bridge event in which they took 11th place. In the other categories, they took 12th place in cross-country rescue, 14th place in the physical team test and 5-kilometer run and 15th place in the Gauntlet. They took 12th place overall, which was a better finish than last year.
Cadet Alex Sanchez, commander of the male team, said “The male team gave it their all,” and that he was very proud of their hard work.
Both teams are committed to improve their performances and bring back national championship trophies next year.