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ROTC Cadets Compete In 2021 Sandhurst Military Skills Competition
by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs
April 27, 2021

U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets from across the country and across the services took the campus and woods of West Point over the weekend to compete in the 2021 Sandhurst Military Skills competition to see who had what it takes to conquer the grueling two-day event in April.

Cadets battled low temperatures, drizzle, sleet and COVID restrictions - along with the challenges of rucking 10 miles to 12 events during the competition. None of that seemed to matter though as the teams competed the Crucible event Saturday evening ... ending the competition.

U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets from across the country and across the services took the campus and woods of West Point over the weekend to compete in the 2021 Sandhurst Military Skills competition to see who had what it takes to conquer the grueling two-day event in April.(U.S. Army photos by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs)
U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets from across the country and across the services took the campus and woods of West Point over the weekend to compete in the 2021 Sandhurst Military Skills competition to see who had what it takes to conquer the grueling two-day event in April. (U.S. Army photos by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs)

 In the end, USMA’s Black team took home the top award, with the University of North Georgia placing fourth among the teams that competed. Other ROTC teams in the top 10 included St. John's University in fifth, Embry-Riddle in sixth, University of Louisville in eighth and Brigham Young University placing tenth. UNG also won the Army ROTC Cup for the event.

This year’s Sandhurst Tom Surdyke Leadership Award winner went to Cadet Ethan Erickson with John's University. The award is named in memory of Cadet Thomas Surdyke who died from injuries sustained while saving the life of a drowning stranger.

Cadet Daniel Shearer, UNG team squad leader, said he went into the results with a feeling that his team had given their all and that effort would pay off.

“I think it went really well, the team really came together as the events went on. We were able to really focus in and bring some heat to a lot of these events,” he said. “The team did an awesome job and I couldn’t have asked for more.”

“This being my first time as a team leader and a new experience for me, I learned a lot through this competition and I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to lead a team ... it’s been a great experience,” he added.

Oregon State University Cadet Erik Messenger said while tough, Sandhurst gave his team a chance to use the training they completed despite the COVID pandemic.

“I feel like we killed it this weekend. We’ve been together for about a year and have trained hard. We were lucky that none of us graduated last year so that gave us more time to train together,” he said. “COVID put a damper on our training for most of the fall, so we did a lot of self PT sessions and I sent out workout instructions so to make sure everyone was on the same training schedule. Once the school opened up more in January, we started training hard then. We worked hard and hit it hard ... that’s our motto.”

Dylen Ledman, Texas A&M, said Sandhurst provided welcomed challenges for his team.

“I think we were very physically challenged ... West point put on a really great competition here. Our brigade has its own surprises in its Ranger Challenges too that make it difficult, but there were some real gut checks out there during Sandhurst,” he said.

Ledman said taking on challenges like Ranger Challenge and Sandhurst take certain qualities to be successful.

“You have to put in a lot of hard work ... put in the hours is one of the most important things,” he explained. “You need dedication, to be able to listen to the rest of your team and to believe in yourself ... that’s all it takes.”

Competing at this level is all about being part of the team, said Cadet Daniel Shearer ... “You need to be someone who is willing to work as hard as they can for the sake of the team,” he shared. “Ranger Challenge is not an individual event ... it doesn’t matter if you’re the fastest, strongest or best shot ... what matters is that you’re able to bring something to the table and score one more point for the team every time and pick up weight where others are having trouble, and humble enough to say that you’re having trouble when the time comes.”

Hosted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point since 1967, the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition promotes military excellence of future leaders worldwide. This year 44 teams representing 25 United States Military Academy teams, 16 Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and three U.S. service academies competed in the rigorous 36-hour course to test their warrior spirit, team cohesion, and dedication to mission accomplishment.

Army ROTC produces approximately 70 percent of the officers entering the Army each year and is available through nearly 1,000 college campuses nationwide ranging from Harvard to Berkley... from Tufts to Ohio State. Army ROTC teaches leadership and discipline, management techniques, cultural awareness and problem solving. Those who participate in Army ROTC and subsequently serve as Army officers develop leadership and managerial skills that last a lifetime.

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