UT Army ROTC moves on to Sandhurst competition

Ellie Breed

In April 2016, the Texas Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Ranger Challenge team will advance to Sandhurst, an international competition held at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where they will compete against 60 other teams from around the world.

This follows its first place finish in the Fifth Brigade Ranger Challenge Competition, where they competed in events such as a grenade assault course, a Humvee push, a five-mile run, and weapons assembly and disassembly.  

The team will work on perfecting skills and strengthening camaraderie moving forward, according to team member Cadet Matthew Shao.

“The first phase was getting to Sandhurst, coming together as a team, and getting basic skills down,” Shao said. “Next semester it is a matter of making sure we are not just a team, but a family. We’ll be out there pushing all day and night, and, if we are not strong, we are going to break down. We have to make ourselves experts at accomplishing these tasks.”

The international competition will require the team to adapt to a higher elevation, different terrain, and tougher competition. The biggest obstacle will be the surprise challenges the team could be assigned, according to team captain Cadet Michael Gonzales.

“We have to be able to maintain composure in stressful situations,” Gonzales said. “What’s different about the national competition is that they don’t tell you everything that will be thrown at you, so it is important for us to be prepared for anything going into it.”

The success of this team can be attributed to their ability to balance the strengths and weaknesses of each member, according to Cpl. Sarah Henry.

“Our strength is that we are able to work cohesively together,” Henry said, “We all have type-A personalities, but we know when to step up and step down in our roles. That’s what will continue to make our team great in the next competition.”

The team set an ideal example for the University after winning the regional and Brigade competitions, according to professor of Military Science and Lt. Col. David Zinnante.

“They accepted their previous victory with impeccable character and sportsmanship,” Zinnante said. “They were incredibly humble champions and represented the University in the exact way we would have expected them to. I’m not sure who else on this campus would represent us more honorably than these men and women.”