By Sgt. 1st Class Christopher FinchamOctober 29, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 29, 2013) -- The Indoor Obstacle Course Test has challenged cadets for more than 60 years at West Point.
Out of the thousands that have come before her, no female cadet has ever completed it faster than Class of 2017 Cadet Madaline Kenyon.
At 2 minutes and 26 seconds, she recently set the new female record -- a mark that had been held for more than 20 years by Class of 1989's Tanya Cheek.
Kenyon said being a track athlete helps, but the Duanesburg, N.Y., native credits her Indoor Obstacle Course Test, known as the IOCT, success to years of gymnastics.
"The physical aspects of military movement and the IOCT are very similar to what I learned doing gymnastics. It's something that I did for eight years and something that I loved and worked at," Kenyon said.
Kenyon set the new record in just her fourth attempt on the 11-event course, and Capt. Austin Wilson knows she can do even better. A Department of Physical Education instructor and the holder of the male IOCT record of 1:59, Wilson watched Kenyon on her first run and immediately took her under his wing with the aim of setting the fastest female time.
To put things in perspective, male cadets receive an A+ grade for Kenyon's record-setting pace. It's a grade that less than five percent of the corps achieves, according to Wilson.
While the time has set her apart from her peers, she hopes to be an example for others, and thinks her achievement is possible for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.
"It's the mindset," Kenyon said. "You have to know that you can. You have to push yourself past that comfort level. That is how you excel. It's not about being comfortable. It's about knowing that you can go the extra mile and do better."
She arrived at West Point with aspirations of becoming a physical therapist, however, Kenyon isn't set on trying to branch into the Army's Medical Corps.
After hearing U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. speak on the steps of Washington Hall, thoughts of combat branches are now in her mind.
"I was talking to Lieutenant General Caslen about it," Kenyon said. "And he said 'Why not go Armor? Why not go Infantry?'"
Until the time comes for that decision though, she's focused on continuing to be a positive example in the Corps of Cadets.
"I want to show the male cadets here that females can hold our own," she said.