Molena, Georgia (Nov. 5, 2017) -- The woods of Molena were filled with a little humidity, the sounds of leaves falling to the ground, and the yells of high school JROTC Cadets this past weekend, Nov. 4-5, as Cadets came out to compete in JROTC's National Raider Championships at the Gerald Lawhorn Boy Scout Camp.

Nearly 1,100 JROTC students from 52 schools competed in events such as one-rope bridge crossing, the gauntlet (a timed-obstacle course), cross-country rescue course, a physical team test and a 5K run. After scores were tallied, the team that came out as the champions were Sarasota Military Academy (Female team), Sarasota, Fla., North Fort Myers High School (Mixed team), North Fort Myers, Fla., and Riverside Military Academy (Male team), Gainesville, Ga.

Winners of the Ultimate Raider Competition were Robert Daugherty (Male), from North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, and Lyssa Blaire (Female), from Georgia Military College Preparatory School, Milledgeville, Georgia.

Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Kraus, command sergeant major for U.S. Army Cadet Command, spoke to all of the teams during the award ceremony.

"I saw great teamwork this weekend. As teams took on the rope bridge and the gauntlet, sometimes it was trial and error until they got it right. In our doctrine we call that agile and adaptive leadership," he said. "You worked hard - sometimes pushing through physical and emotional pain. The looks on your faces as you pushed through challenges showed true grit.

"Even though it was a competition against one another and other teams, I think more of what I saw you were competing against yourself more. That's exactly what I'm looking for in a great citizen, making yourself a better person for tomorrow," added Kraus.

Timothy Bosell, a senior from Adairsville High School in Georgia, said Raider Challenge isn't just tough, it's fun too.

"I've done several other sports, but things like Raider are super-addictive. I want to go to West Point then into the Army, so this is right up my alley," he said. "I'm on track and cross-country so the running part is like going through the motions for me, but it get a little more interesting when you throw in rucks and litters - especially when you throw in obstacles and rope bridges. It's like a playground for big kids almost."

Bosell, who is currently his program's battalion commander, said he also enjoys the parts of JROTC that test you in other ways.

"I like how you start off as a follower and you get little increments of leadership and trust put upon you. Hard work pays off and it allows you to see what you are capable of." he said.

Lillian Brewster, a senior at Leavenworth High School in Leavenworth, Kansas, said she will miss competing in Raider once she graduates.

"I love the competition, I love the atmosphere, the people I am with and the physical endurance it takes to do this," she said. "You need nothing except for heart, it doesn't matter how talented you are, how fast you are, because I have seen people who have all of that and they just give up. But the ones who have heart, they make it to the finish and getting to the end of everything - it's a long day and a lot of competition."