MIDLOTHIAN, Va. - 80th Training Command Soldiers seized the opportunity to engage in friendly rivalry with high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students at the 17th Annual Raider Challenge hosted by Manchester High School JROTC here on March 11, 2017. The Soldiers jumped on the chance to help shape the future leaders interested in joining the capable, lethal and combat ready force known as the Army Reserve.

80th TC Soldiers Lt. Col. Steven Stacy, Maj. JonWayne Lindsey, Capt. Carl Peterson, Master Sgt. Stuart Peters, Master Sgt. Eric Belkowski, Master Sgt. Stacey Everett, and Sgt. 1st Class David Mangan participated in the competition, where they served as safety personnel for the events and also as graders for the Army Physical Fitness Test.

Eighteen schools from across Virginia came to compete. Each school sent two eight-person teams to contend against one another in the five-event challenge: rope bridge maneuvering, first aid litter carry, fireman's carry, 5-K walk/run, and the APFT. Competitors earned points as individuals and also as teams. They were scored based on the Standard Operating Procedures set forth by the JROTC 4th Brigade, headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Individual awards were given to the top three males and females who scored the highest in the APFT. Team trophies were awarded to the top five teams with the highest overall scores in all the events combined. The winning teams here have the opportunity to move up to the state-level Best of the Best Qualifiers, where teams qualify to compete at Fort Bragg in the Best of the Best Raider Challenge.

A volunteer from the 80th TC, Belkowski said that he felt inspired working with the JROTC students. "I felt really motivated, seeing these teenagers work as teams and their drive for success," said Belkowski. "Being part of the challenge reminded me of how important it is to help build our future leaders. It reminded me of the esprit de corps that soldiers develop in basic training."

Sgt. 1st Class Treon Simons, JROTC instructor at Manchester HS, said the 80th TC soldiers proved to be essential in conducting the all-day event. "Maj. Lindsey and his crew were great support for us," said Simons. "We could not have done this without them."

This year's competition was a great success for the JROTC Lancer Battalion, largely due to the support they received from the 80th TC soldiers, according to retired Lt. Col. Lennie Carr, commander of the Manchester HS JROTC. He stressed that the 80th soldiers helping with the physical fitness test was a major plus.

"We were honored to have the 80th soldiers here to assist us with all the events," said Carr. "Without them, we could not have done this in the time we had allotted. They have greatly impacted our success."

Lancer Battalion Cadet Commander Malcolm Wyche agreed with Carr. Wyche emphasized the integral relationships that Army Reserve soldiers have developed in their communities. "I can't imagine how this day would have turned out without the help of the 80th and the other military units that came out to help us," said Wyche. "I hope they can continue to support this event. They set a great example for us to follow, and for that I thank them."