JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Washington -- Nine Soldiers from across the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in a series of mental and physical tests 18 April on Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, to determine who among them would earn the title of 2018 Lancer Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

The Soldier and NCO of the Year Competition is the culminating test for the best NCOs and Soldiers, of each quarter, showcasing their Army knowledge, commitment to the Army values, and embodiment of the Warrior Ethos.

Each Soldier represented the very best of their units as they competed in three grueling events including an Army Physical Fitness Test, a 7-mile ruck march and a stress shoot.

Following these events, the participants had to appear before a board and answer questions ranging from military history and regulations to current events and situation-based scenarios.

"A lot of preparation was needed to make this event a success," said Sgt. 1st Class Marc Taman, current operations NCOIC, "The synchronization of efforts between the battalions was paramount in meeting our command sergeant major's intent."

"The overall goal was not just to find the best Soldiers in our brigade, but also to prepare them for the upcoming Division competition as well," Taman added.

Sgt. Arbinda Upreti a combat engineer, 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion from Bhaktapur, Nepal and Spc. Michael Krystallis, a cavalry scout, 1st Battalion 17th Infantry Regiment, and native of Tallahassee, Florida were the overall winners of the competition.

Both Upreti and Krystallis agreed that this has been one of the toughest competitions either had participated in during their Army careers.

"I participated in the brigade competition in 2016," explained Upreti. "This year's competition was more physically demanding than the previous one. You needed to break down the mental barrier that's telling you to quit to have the stamina and drive to continue to the end."

- more -

Krystallis, added, "Of all the events, the stress shoot was the toughest. From the moment we finished the ruck march, we then had to do a variety of exercises and then qualify on the range."

During the stress shoot participants performed a series of tasks such as pulling a weighted medical evacuation sked, pushups and squats only to then run and engage targets with their assigned rifles.

The competition as a whole was designed to provide the most realistic training to exhibit the core skills Soldiers need rapidly deploy, fight and win against any threat in any environment.

Krystallis, with help from NCOs in his unit, Ranger school preparation and a lot of rucking, was prepared to meet the challenges of the competition and position himself above his peers.

"I knew I had what it took to complete each event," said Krystallis. "I just put 100% effort into every aspect of the competition. Not only have I made my unit proud of my achievement, but this makes me want to drive on and see what else I can do."

"I want to keep going and not rest on my laurels," said Krystallis. "I'm excited about representing the brigade in the division competition and want to keep moving forward in my career."

Upreti and Krystallis, along with other Lancer Soldiers, will represent the brigade in the upcoming 7th Infantry Division "Best of" competition next week.