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A group of Columbus State University ROTC cadets visited Fort Benning Jan. 16 as the unit made final preparations for the 2014 Ranger Challenge event.
Ranger Challenge is an event that will pit 53 ROTC teams from across the country against one another on a 20.5-mile course that will be completed over the course of two days at Camp Blanding, Fla., Jan. 24-25.
Day 1 of Ranger Challenge 2014 will see the teams travel approximately seven miles while completing an M16 three-shot group and marksmanship range, a hand grenade assault course, four-mile timed foot march and land navigation course. Day 2 will consist of an obstacle course, a combat first aid event, a one-rope bridge event, a tactical boat movement and a commanders challenge, with the days total distance traveled coming to 13.5 miles.
Each team is allowed a pool of nine cadets, with five serving as active competitors. Of those five competitors, there must be one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, one senior and one female cadet included.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Cook, a military science instructor at CSU, said the team members were chosen based on their physical conditioning. We selected this group based off of the guys and girls we knew were in shape already, Cook said. We did a little extra PT on the side and practiced some distance running by having a Soldier half-marathon. We just did some things like this to make sure everyone was ready to run for distance. Most of these kids are in good physical condition already, but they volunteered to put in extra time on Friday mornings and to come in and run before classes.
Cadet Ricky Leslie, the team captain, said he was confident in his teams ability heading into the weekend.
We have a really talented team, Leslie said. All our team members have a natural talent for physical fitness, and theyve just got plenty of common sense. Honestly, Id be really surprised if we didnt do well and get first place.
With the team prepared for the distance portions of Ranger Challenge, Cook said the cadets came to Farnsworth Range to zero qualify on the rifles that will be used during the event.
Cadet Ricky Leslie, the team captain, said without Fort Bennings support, the team would be unable to have the valuable practice time on the range.
These are kind of the final things that you dont get to do at Columbus State shooting and land navigation, so its great to have Fort Benning right here so we can do this, Leslie said.
Both Cook and Leslie also expressed their appreciation for the Soldiers of the 75th Ranger Regiment, who often provide support to the CSU cadets.
They support us with a lot of things, such as bringing in senior NCOs and officer to do professional development with some of the cadet, Cook said. Theres a lot of assistance 75th Ranger Regiment puts into our program.
Were fortunate to have these Soldiers from 75th Ranger Regiment to give us the instruction, Leslie said. Its just a huge resource to be able to learn from these guys, who make up the most elite Infantry unit the Army has to offer.