MILITARY MATTERS: North Georgia Cadets Win Spartan Ranger Challenge Vs. Top Schools

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:59 PM EST
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DAHLONEGA, Ga. (WTVM) - While college football may be king in the southeast, the “Ranger Challenge” is the top varsity sport for Army ROTC. The University of North Georgia recently won that competition against some of the best cadets in the nation. Some of their team members took us inside their victory.

The University of North Georgia’s Ranger Challenge team is rolling – on obstacles and with trophies. They just won their fourth straight Spartan Ranger Challenge. UNG senior Hayley Farmer, squad leader for “A” team, explains how the rigorous competition kicked off just after midnight.

“Our first event was at 1am, so we were up at 12, so maybe 1 or 2 hours of sleep that everybody got before we started the competition, before our ruck, then we went at it for 16 hours before we caught a break,” Captain Farmer said.

The long days include land navigation as a team, the obstacle course, and a variety of competitions.

2nd Lt. Austin Gabriel, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Ranger challenge listed off some of the events: “From pistol marksmanship, rifle marksmanship, weapons familiarization, radio.”

“Tactical combat casualty care, so our team medic got to highlight his skills. After that, we went to a grenade assault course where we threw grenades” Farmer added. They went head-to-head with 17 teams from various senior and junior military colleges, competitors like Virginia Tech.

“It’s probably the closest it’s been in a long time this year. Texas A&M really gave us a run for our money,” Gabriel told us. “Our strongest ruckers, we’ll actually have the weakest link on the team grab onto the ruck and we’ll essentially drag them, then we’ll have a rotating cycle,”

Leaving no person behind in this challenge that starts with a 12 mile ruck march, they train for this not just in mountainous North Georgia but also, at times, on ranges at Fort Benning - the same area where some UNG leaders battled in the past.

“We’ve got some really stellar guys that competed in the Best Ranger competition throughout their military careers that are here coaching us now,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel, a UNG senior from Athens, says they fight through the pain because the team members compete for each other, showing off how fast and efficient they can do these military skills.

“It’s only 2 days that you’re going 100%, 110% so everybody relies on that adrenaline to keep us going,” Farmer told us.

Gabriel also said, “It just teaches you the value of good comradery and how to work together. It also teaches you how to deal with people in intense, adverse situations.”

The University of North Georgia Ranger Challenge team now advances to the Sandhurst Military Skills competition next April at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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