LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 9, 2016) -- The sounds of cadence calling and marching feet filled the Kentucky International Convention Center this past weekend as more than 2,300 hundred Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Cadet from the across the country converged on the center for the Army JROTC National Drill and Ceremony competition April 9.

More than 80 schools participated in the event comprised of armed and unarmed drill and ceremony regulation and exhibition routines as well as individual and team inspections.

Col. Thomas Bell, Director of Cadets Command's JROTC program, said no matter who won or lost at the end of the day, everyone gained something from making to that level of competition.

"All of these folks are winners -- and you can see it in their thousands of hours of practice and competition of different levels within their brigade. Then it all comes to fruition here at the national competition -- it's a great event," he said.

"It's absolutely amazing to see the exuberation in their faces when they get out there in the spirit of competition," added Bell.

Army retired 1st Sgt. Lewis Gonzales, a JROTC instructor at Sam Rayburn High School, Pasadena, Texas, said while winning is great, there are other immeasurable rewards the Cadets gain from being in JROTC and competing at such events.

"Win, lose or draw, we see some really great schools, and you get to go up against them to see how good you really are," he said. "I believe it builds their confidence tremendously -- through teamwork and friendship, and the bonds that are formed."

"After 14 years of doing this, I've seen a lot of teams that are still friends to this day," added Gonzales.

Cadet Christian Hickock, from Airport High School, West Columbia, S.C., is no stranger to competing, he's been a part of the team for several Army level and national level Drill and Ceremony competitions. Even so, he said there are still always things a team can work on.

"This year I think our strength was being sharp and precise, but it was still a little difficult just being under the under pressure of competing at this level," he said.

Cadet Raven Malone, from Tara High, Baton Rouge, La., was a first time competitor at the competition. She said she learned a lot about the pressures of performing at such a high level of competition.

"It's been a good day -- a little tiring, but a good day," she said. "It's been a little stressful making sure we were everywhere we needed to be and that everyone in our platoon was ready, but in the end we communicated and worked as team to make sure everything was as good as we could make it."

Results by category were:

Unarmed ‐ Inspection
1st Place ‐ Theodore Roosevelt High School, San Antonio, Texas
2nd Place ‐ Sam Rayburn High School, Pasadena, Texas
3rd Place ‐ Forestville Military Academy, Forestville, Md.

Armed ‐ Inspection
1st Place ‐ Marmion Academy, Aurora, Ill.
2nd Place ‐ Grant High School, Dry Prong, La.
3rd Place ‐ West Creek High School, Clarksville, Tenn.

Unarmed ‐ Regulation
1st Place ‐ Kenwood High School, Clarksville, Tenn.
2nd Place ‐ Sam Rayburn High School, Pasadena, Texas
3rd Place ‐ Albuquerque High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Armed ‐ Regulation
1st Place ‐ Grant High School, Dry Prong, La.
2nd Place ‐ North Miami Beach Senior High School, North Miami Beach, Fla.
3rd Place ‐ Airport High School, West Columbia, S.C.

Unarmed ‐ Color Guard
1st Place ‐ Renaissance High School, Detroit, Mich.
2nd Place ‐ North Miami Beach Senior High School, North Miami Beach, Fla.
3rd Place ‐ Smith Cotton High School, Sedalia, Mo.

Armed ‐ Color Guard
1st Place ‐ Grant High School, Dry Prong, La.
2nd Place ‐ Ozark High School, Ozark, Mo.
3rd Place ‐ Theodore Roosevelt High School, San Antonio, Texas

Unarmed ‐ Exhibition
1st Place ‐ Theodore Roosevelt High School, San Antonio, Texas
2nd Place ‐ Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth, Kan.
3rd Place ‐ Forestville Military Academy, Forestville, Md.

Armed ‐ Exhibition
1st Place ‐ North Miami Beach Senior High School, North Miami Beach, Fla.
2nd Place ‐ Gurdon S. Hubbard High School, Chicago, Ill.
3rd Place ‐ Marmion Academy, Aurora, Ill.

Unarmed ‐ Overall Championship
Theodore Roosevelt High School, San Antonio, Texas

Armed ‐ Overall Championship
Grant High School, Dry Prong, La.