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University of Nevada, Reno ROTC Ranger Challenge team chalks up another win


Takes first place for the second year in a row

The University of Nevada, Reno Ranger Challenge team, whose motto is, “I will do today what you won’t, so that I can do tomorrow what you can’t.” Left to right, top row: Micah Gill (junior), Kevin Beck (freshman), Chris Wallace (sophomore), Brandon Castinado (sophomore), Michael Colyer (sophomore), Chris Imus (freshman). Left to right, bottom row: Cameron Ripley (freshman), Jasmin Herrera (senior), Jacob Ziolkowski (sophomore), Zachary Betts (senior), Jerel Abas (junior), Mary-Ann Ong (freshman). Photo courtesy of Micah Gill.

RENO, Nev. – Two and a half months of intense workouts and training has led the University of Nevada, Reno ROTC Ranger Challenge team to another victory at the annual regional Ranger Challenge competition. The Nevada, Reno team has won the competition five out of the last six years, including last year when the team hosted the competition at Stead.

The competition features a 10K course that consists of nine rigorous events meant to test the physical and mental toughness of each team. Ranger Challenge is the equivalent of a varsity sports team, with each team including nine members. The team must include at least one female and at least one member from each class, freshman through senior. This year, over 30 students tried out to be part of the elite nine-member team at Nevada, Reno.

The team competed a few weeks ago in Las Vegas against five other teams, including the UNLV Ranger Challenge team. The Nevada, Reno team took first place by completing the competition course in 4 hours and 27 minutes, as well as taking first in four out of the nine events on the course.

Zachary Betts, the team captain, said he created a training schedule that would develop and test the mental and physical toughness of each individual. In addition to maintaining a full course load at the University, he and his team members typically woke up as early as 4:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and spent weekends training to strengthen and build endurance. They trained for each event, such as the ruck-march event, running long distances with a 50-pound rucksack plus gear, and the one-rope bridge event, working as a team to tighten a rope so they could cross from one telephone pole to the next.

“Although it was extremely tough, everything we did trained us to be the best,” said Cameron Ripley, one of the few freshmen who survived the cut to be on the team this year.

Michael Colyer, a junior team member, said, “Every year we work as a team. But this year, we were clearly really synchronized.”

The team is currently waiting to receive results from other regional competitions across the nation that will determine if they move on to the next level of competition to be held in Fort Lewis, Wash., in the spring. Although Betts, who has a 3.96 grade-point average and was recently ranked thirteenth out of 5,643 senior cadets in the country, is clearly happy to have won the competition in Las Vegas and hopes to compete in Fort Lewis, he said that winning the competition really is not the main reward of being part of the Ranger Challenge team.

“Winning the competition is simply an additional pay-off for the two and half months of hard work and dedication that we all put in,” Betts said. “Whether or not we go on to Fort Lewis, we will continue to work hard and will be applying the lessons we learned through the Ranger Challenge throughout our professional military careers.”

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