By Paul Ehrsam
ISU Army ROTC cadets are gearing up to compete in the annual Ranger Buddy Challenge this weekend.
The Ranger Buddy competition is a rigorous training challenge that puts the knowledge and skills of what the cadets have been learning all year into a competition.
“It culminates kind of everything you learned and is more of the tactical aspect of our training,” said Cadet Brandon Amerine, senior in management.
The University of Kansas will host the competition this weekend. According to the university’s website, last year Lawrence, Kan., welcomed more than 130 teams of cadets from 29 different schools across the country.
This year 125 teams will be competing in the challenge, and new to this year’s competition is the Ranger Buddy Challenge qualifier. The road march, which is the first event, acts as a qualifier to enter the rest of the competition and be a part of the 125 teams that complete in the rest of the challenge.
The breakdown of 125 teams moving on after the road march: the first 90 male teams to finish the road march will move on, along with the first 20 coed teams and the first 15 female teams. The road march is essentially a 15k, or 9.3 miles, march and run in full gear.
After the teams qualify for the competition, they have 25 other events waiting for them. These events put into play everything they’ve learned throughout their training.
“It’s a whole plethora of different aspects you have to know and have to be able to do when you are under stress, tired, fatigued and completely drained mentally and physically,” said Cadet Bailey Hullett, senior in history.
Compared to the nine-man ranger challenge the cadets do at the beginning of the year, this challenge is a little different. There is much less room for error in the Ranger Buddy Challenge.
“When it comes to being in a two-man team like this, you really have to be on top of your game as far as your skill set because if you mess up that could really cost competition-wise,” Hullett said.
In the past, ISU cadets have done fairly well at this competition and it is expected that they will perform well again.
“We train hard, and Iowa State is known for that, you know. We train hard, we work hard and we’re smart and adaptive,” Hulett said.
The cadets have been training for the Ranger Buddy Challenge since February.
“I think we’ll do very well. We started training much, much earlier compared to last year,” said Megan Ripperger, a junior in dietetics. “We’ve been spending a lot more time in the classroom just working on knowledge because that’s what the focus is this year, is the knowledge aspect. It’s going be very mentally challenging. “It’s going to physically wipe you out, but it will mentally, too.”
Lt. Col. Richard Smith, professor of military science, also believes the cadets going to the challenge this year will be successful.
“We’ve got some pretty good teams this year, I think they will do pretty well,” Smith said. “This is kind of the culminating event of the year to show what they can do, and I think they will.”