Twenty of Fort Jackson's drill sergeants are battling to be named the Drill Sergeant of the Year.

The four-day competition began Monday with an Army Physical Fitness Test and wraps up today with a formal board. In between, competitors were tested physically and mentally with more than two dozen tasks.

"We really ramped it up a lot in terms of what they are going through," said the current DSoY Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Wheele. "We've made several additions to the competition to include a night land navigation course, the clinch drill and more hands on with weapons. It's more physically and mentally demanding on them than it has been in previous years."

The increased tempo and stress built into the event was something not lost on the competitors.

"The toughest part is the scheduling. You really don't have time to take a rest," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cavezza, Company A, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment. "If you're not physically engaged in something, you're studying the module that you have to pitch next, or you're getting ready for the next days' training events."

Staff Sgt. Latia Ellis, Company B, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, shared that sentiment Tuesday only halfway through the competition.

"Today has been very challenging because there have been a lot of physical challenges, especially for the legs," she said. "After land nav, a road march, the obstacle course, I would say today has been a challenge."

The winner of the competition will be announced Friday and will serve as a liaison between drill sergeants and the installation's command group. The winner of this year's competition will also represent Fort Jackson during the TRADOC DSoY competition. In the event, the Fort Jackson drill sergeant wins the TRADOC event, he will have a permanent change of station to Fort Monroe, Va., and the runner-up will serve as the Fort Jackson DSoY.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16