by Ward Mullens, Published October 12, 2010
YPSILANTI - Part of military training is learning how to defend a position.
It's a lesson that cadets in Eastern Michigan University's Army ROTC Battalion have learned well, in more ways than one.
A team of nine EMU ROTC cadets will travel to Fort Knox, Ky., Oct. 15-16 to defend their standing as one of the teams to beat in the "Bold Warrior Challenge," formerly the "Ranger Challenge."
"The event is designed to teach cadets that there is no one person who wins in the Army. It is the combined effort of all to perform well at the varied events," said Lt. Col. Michael Wise, the current commander of EMU's ROTC Battalion. "Bold Warrior (formerly Ranger Challenge) embodies the spirit of competition but, most importantly, teaches our cadets the importance of leadership and teamwork; something each of them will be held accountable for very soon as commissioned officers in the United States Army."
According to (ret.) Maj. Jesse Cox, EMU has consistently placed in the top three in the event every year for the past 10 years, including a streak of four consecutive second place finishes from 2002-2006. The EMU team placed second last year as well. Eastern Michigan last won the event in 1992.
"We are the only university always in it - win, place or show," said Cox.
The challenge features teams from most schools in the Big Ten and Mid- American conferences with an ROTC program. The four-state competition includes: University of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Ohio State, University of Louisville and others.
Teams of nine cadets, both men and women, compete in six different events. They include: grenade throw, weapons assembly, one-rope bridge, land navigation, 10K road march with full gear; and a new event that uses a Zodiac boat.
Teams are awarded points for accuracy and time in each event, with point totals accumulating overall to determine a winner.
EMU's team is composed of eight men and one woman. The cadets are: Robert Chapin (senior), Jonathan Flowers (senior), Shawn Speyer (senior), Timothy Moreno (senior), Sarah Toyoda (sophomore), Joshua Hurst (sophomore), Eric Wolf (sophomore), Jesse Meininger (sophomore) and Chad Adkins (senior) from Spring Arbor University. (NOTE: Through a partnership, Spring Arbor students participate in EMU's ROTC program.)
Cox said finding the correct balance of experience and youth is a key element in EMU's consistent performance at the challenge.
"We have a mix of senior cadets and junior classmen," said Cox.
Another reason for EMU's strong tradition in this event is senior participation.
"At other places, by the time you are a senior you don't want to do the challenge anymore," said Cox. "At EMU, our seniors have been very dedicated."
While Lt. Col. Wise and Maj. Cox have input into building the team, all of the members are volunteers.
According to Cox, the team selects its members based on performance in physical training.
"We start training at the beginning of school," said Cox. "They train from 6-8 a.m. every morning, Monday through Friday."
"The cadets take great pride in representing their universities in ways that replicate collegiate football rivalries. In the end, they achieve great camaraderie, pride in their cadet Battalion, and friendships that last a lifetime," said Wise.