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Midwest Junior ROTC cadets compete at Rosecrans

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- When most high school students are fast asleep at 5:00 a.m. on a typical Saturday, Junior ROTC students from across the Midwest are warming up for a long day of rigorous exercises.

Over 140 Junior ROTC cadets competed in the 5th annual Raider Challenge hosted by the Missouri Air National Guard at Rosecrans Air Guard Base March 26. Nine high schools across four states, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, and comprised of 13 teams, used teamwork to complete this all day event.

The Raider Challenge started the day before with a C-130 ride and the cadets spending th night in the hanger. Up by 4:00 and ready for their first challenge at 5:00 in the morning, the cadets did a PT test complete with push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run. Despite the 35 degree weather, the cadets motivated themselves to stick with it.

"Warmth is a crutch," said Ayla Mayberry, commander of the Leavenworth High School team. "We started out kind of slow, but picked up near the end." Cadets from Leavenworth were split into the Blue and White team. The Blue team went on to place third overall. After a warm cooked breakfast at the dining hall, the cadets lined up for a 10k (6.2 miles) march.

"This is my first raider meet with a 10k involved. I always thought the PT test in the morning was my least favorite thing," said Sam Dawson, Wentworth Military Academy, Lexington, Mo., as he shuttered from the cold. "The 10k is my least favorite, but it's satisfying when you finish and builds good teamwork."

The final events included pulling a Humvee by rope, knot tying, rope climbing, dart throwing, log sit-ups, and the special event which was an inflatable obstacle course in the hanger.

The cadets begin training about six months prior to the Raider Challenge, said Master Sgt. Jackie Moser, 139th Airlift Wing, who has spearheaded the event for the last five years that it has been here. "If you ask any of the raiders that have completed other raider challenges, they'll tell you this one is the best," she said.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, Missouri National Guard adjutant general, handed out awards to the top raiders at the closing ceremony. The Waynesville High School Black Team placed first with the Des Moines Central Campus Red Bulls placing second.

"This is a unique opportunity for these students to see what it's like being on a Guard base and getting a feel of that community," said Danner. "For the 139th Airlift Wing and Airmen that volunteered to do this on a Saturday that they would normally be off, it is a testament to their dedication."