After a rigorous competition, Sgt. Andrew Wildasin and Sgt. Abel Carlos emerged as Madigan Army Medical Center's best Soldiers of 2017.

Wildasin, Madigan's Post Anesthesia Care Unit noncommissioned officer in charge, and Carlos, formerly a microbiology technician here, were named the NCO of the Year and the Soldier of the Year respectively.

The competition ranged from a ruck march to day and night land navigation, and from a physical fitness test to oral and written evaluations on Army knowledge.

Both sergeants emphasized that participating in the boards sharpened their skills as Soldiers.

"A good way to get back to your roots as a Soldier is to participate in the monthly boards, and that's exactly what I started to do," said Wildasin, who also competed for the title in 2016. "I think we're in an occupation where some people get comfortable at the hospital, but for me personally, I want to be ready for any situation that presents itself. I just want to jump in and say 'Hey, I'm ready for this. I can do it.'"

The 7-year veteran prepped himself by working out daily, and recording potential board questions which he practiced answering while commuting. Like Carlos, he also knew that winning the competition could distinguish him from his peers.

"I wanted to get promoted, and I knew that the outcome of it would help towards that goal," said Carlos, who recently entered the NCO ranks. Since winning the competition, he also transitioned to the 25th Brigade Support Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

"I made it to Soldier of the Year two years ago, and I got second place, so it was a redemption thing. I also wanted to win it. And, I think they're fun. I think the boards are just a good way to challenge yourself and improve your skills as a Soldier," said Carlos.

That desire to keep improving is also driving Carlos to hone his skills in a line unit, while it's propelling Wildasin to pursue becoming a physician assistant. The licensed practical nurse got inspired by his PA from his early medic days.

"When I came in as a Whiskey, our PA in our platoon was kind of like our guru, the guy that we looked up to," said Wildasin. He wants to one day make the same impact on other medics.

In the meantime, Wildasin hopes to shine at the upcoming Regional Health Command-Pacific competition in Hawaii.

"I'm going into this with the anticipation that I want to win," he said. "This is a big deal to me; I want to feel like I'm in control when I'm in there."

Due to changing commands, Carlos won't be able to advance to the regional competition. However, he said he is absolutely willing to compete again in the U.S. Army Forces Command.

He says Soldiers competing at boards need to be adaptive and be ready for whatever comes up. Carlos encourages all Soldiers to get involved with the competitions.

"Just go for it. Don't be afraid to try something new if you haven't done a board before, and if you have done a board before and haven't been successful, don't be afraid to go back. Train hard, learn from your mistakes, and you can definitely do it," he said. "If I can do it, you can do it."