Clarksville, TN – For the second straight year, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Ranger Challenge team has earned a spot at Sandhurst, the world’s premier international academy military skills competition.
“For the University, it means Austin Peay State University has its name back in the international competition,” said ROTC Cadet Daniel Cole, team captain. “We can say, ‘We’re Austin Peay State University and Clarksville, Tennessee, and this is what our ROTC department is bringing.”
The Sandhurst competition is April 17th-18th, 2020 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and includes 49 teams from 13 international military academies, 16 ROTC programs and four U.S. service academies.
The goal: Improving on last year
Austin Peay State University finished eighth among the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps teams last year and 29th overall. The U.S. Military Academy Black team won the event last year, and Georgia State University won the ROTC division.
The team has changed how it’s training this year, Cole said.’
“This time around it’s more strength-focused with leg strength and endurance,” he said. “It’s a lot of rucking and weight training, increasing our leg strength to be able to go for a long time.”
Cole said he hopes the training will lift the team on the second day of the competition, “where we’re not worn out, our bodies aren’t beaten down and we can think coherently, ‘All right, let’s go. Let’s execute.’”
‘Showcasing tenacity and grit’
The U.S. Military Academy has hosted the competition since 1967, and it has grown to include teams from across the country and the world. The competition takes the cadets through a rigorous 36-hour course “to test warrior spirit, team cohesion and dedication to mission accomplishment.”
The course covers 27 miles and tests individual and squad military skill mastery.
“The Sandhurst competition teaches cadets the mental and physical toughness, the relentlessness and the discipline that’s necessary to work as a team to accomplish the mission,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, U.S. Military Academy superintendent. “It also strengthens relationships with our allies and partners to foster multinational cohesion and interoperability while showcasing the tenacity and grit of future military leaders from across the world.”
Lt. Col. Eric A. Westphal, APSU’s professor of military science, witnessed “the tenacity and grit” of APSU’s cadets firsthand.
“They were motivated from minute one, proving that even in terrible weather and excruciating pain, as a team they can achieve anything,” he said. “This principle is exactly what we teach here at ROTC. These young leaders are the epitome of what it takes to be U.S. Army officers.”
Cole expects team will perform well at Sandhurst as well.
“Nobody knows what the competition is going to be like. It’s a hard task,” he said. “We’re going to go out and do the best we can, and I think with our training, we’re going to have successful results.”
Who’s on the team?
Eleven APSU cadets will travel to Sandhurst next month, but 14 are on the team. They are:
- Daniel Cole.
- Walter Higbee.
- Alden Marvin.
- Brandon Dickinson.
- Cherady Fine.
- Christina Taylor.
- Ian Fearn.
- Keith Donnell.
- Shawn King.
- Madison Ellis.
- Ryan Nanzer.
- Thomas Porter.
- Thomas Rose.
- James Labas.
To learn more
- To read more about Daniel Cole, go to https://www.apsu.edu/govlife/students/daniel-cole.php.
- To learn more about the APSU ROTC program, go to https://www.apsu.edu/rotc.
- For more about the Sandhurst competition, visit https://www.westpoint.edu/military/department-of-military-instruction/sandhurst.