West Point's Sandhurst competition tests team unity
April 16, 2010
The overall winner at the 44th Sandhurst Competition April 9-10 was ... Sandhurst. The team from the Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, after which the annual competition is named, bested nearly 50 other military teams to claim the 2010 title at West Point.
While the British claimed the top two finishes in the competition, the next three spots went to West Point. The two Sandhurst teams finished at 5:26:05 and 5:33:00, respectively. The Company C-1 team finished the highest (5:49:15) among the West Point teams, while 1st Regiment earned a trophy for best cadet regiment.
The Royal Military College of Canada, defending champions and winner of four titles in the past five years, finished sixth and was awarded first place in marksmanship. The Navy and Air Force service academies finished 18th and 21st, respectively.
Brigham Young University was awarded best in land navigation, and George Mason University was recognized for being the fastest team on the commandant's challenge.
The competition is an occasion in which team spirit comes out in obvious ways. Cow J.D. Menges, Company A-3, from Red Lion, Pa., donned a green bodysuit and joined the drove of cadets supporting their fellow Anacondas running through Sandhurst.
"You don't see people bond together as much as we do now," Menges said. "That shows our unity as a company.
"Regardless of what we place, we're still here for each other, that just shows how close-knit we are as a company," he added. "(The parents) were just as supportive as us, just as enthusiastic. It showed how close-knit (we are) as a company and how close our Families are with the company as well."
The Company E-1 Sandhurst team started strong, but finished 13th overall, which was eighth among the West Point teams.
Firstie Anthony Wrench, their squad leader, remarked how the high level of cohesion carried them through the race.
"We have a very cohesive squad, and it really showed during the competition," Wrench said. "We've had remarks from several of the site cadre that we were one of the most motivated squads to come through there. Everyone picked each other up when they were down."
Every team had its own throng of motivating spectators. Besides water and energy food, Wrench and his comrades ran off of the support from the sidelines in the form of blaring bullhorns and raucous cheering from cadets and Family members.
"We had a great turnout today," the Williamsport, Pa., native said. "Almost all of the team had Family or parents here, and we had a huge contingent from the company. They were really screaming for us."
For Wrench, the toughest part of the competition was pushing forward when everyone was tired. The mental aspect of pushing through the pain was a challenge in of itself.
"Around the back side of the lake there were a lot of land (navigation) points," Wrench said. "It would have been easy just to quit and say we're walking this, but we kept pushing the entire time. Even when people were hurt or cramping, we helped them out, got them some water and drove on."
Win or lose, the Corps and their guests were able to enjoy the day of high-paced competition followed by a bountiful barbecue that evening.
"It was great spending time with these guys doing a physical challenge," Wrench said. "It was great to get out there and compete against everyone else."