The season of military competitions is here. Many have already taken place, such as the Army's Best Ranger competition, the Army's Best Sapper competition, and the Army's Best Mortar Competition.This year, a team from 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, will represent the entire 1st Cavalry Division with expectations of securing the Gainey Cup at the Army-wide Best Scout Squad competition, beginning April 25, at Fort Benning, Georgia."For the past several weeks, we have been preparing mentally and physically to go and participate in the Gainey Cup Competition," said Sgt. Samuel Hall, the dismount team leader for the competition. "This competition has been our priority. Our command team has supported that and supported us throughout our training, from platoon level all the way up to squadron level," he said.The Soldiers on the team were selected by their leadership after completing several unit-internal competitions starting at the troop level and finishing at brigade level. The Soldiers who earned a coveted spot on the team displayed above average competency levels as well as stellar physical capabilities."Each and every single member of this team has performed very well," said Staff Sgt. Jermaul Sledge, the team's truck commander. "They were chosen not only because they are physically fit, but because they are mentally fit as well. Every single one of them has that drive to keep going, and that is so important," he added.The team began training while the brigade was deployed to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, and has not missed a beat since returning.The physical train-up includes gym visits at least twice a day, distance running, extended ruck marches, general body conditioning in order to prevail during the intense competition, and endurance building workouts. The mental train-up includes equipment familiarity, graphics and land navigation training, vehicle and small arms proficiency, amongst other things."We mentally and physically push ourselves every day, so we tend to get exhausted," said Pfc. Benjamin Ortolan, the team's gunner. "We definitely keep in mind that we are representing something bigger than any of us could have ever imagined. Regardless of what happens in this competition, we will come back with lessons and skills that will set us apart from the rest of our daily platoon mates."Although the train-up has been thorough and the team feels extremely confident in their abilities, the thought of such a big competition provides some apprehension.
"One of the biggest challenges for me has been to look at myself and determine what my weaknesses are," said Spc. Sylvia Gielarowiec, the team's driver. "Continuing to push and make myself better in the areas I am lacking is a challenge," she added.Even though this team is about to culminate one of their toughest journeys, they have confidence in one another and acknowledge that teamwork is the key to success."We work really well as a team," said Spc. Alan Garcia, the team's point man. "We definitely care for each other, help each other out and encourage each other."The team's M240B gunner, Pfc. Ryan Murphy, said he looks forward to what being a part of this team means for him in the future, as far as career progression and promotion board knowledge.Attached to the team are Spc. Robert McInteer and Spc. Kevin Romero, both alternate dismounts. They have trained with the team every step of the way and will fill in if a team member cannot make it to the competition.