FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 4, 2020) -- The 428th Field Artillery Brigade conducted its Second Annual Cornerstone Fitness Challenge May 21, at the 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery Headquarters’ Teamwork Field.
The competition drew over 30 competitors throughout the brigade in a functional fitness challenge for individuals and teams.
“I felt it was really important to continue this competition even with the pandemic, to drive home the importance of fitness,” said Col. Jeff Buck, 428th FA commander. “We worked really hard to ensure precautions and social distancing.”
The individual competition included events straight from the Army Combat Fitness Test, such as the dead lift, and leg tucks. Its kettle bell swing simulated the ACFT’s standing power throw, he said.
For the team competition, four-person teams began with a half-mile run, then performed 25 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, 75 air squats, and ended with another half-mile run. It was called a Half-Murph Workout of the Day.
Competitor Sgt. Thomas Massengill, a religious affairs specialist with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, said he competed on his battalion team for the fun of it.
“I like to see where I’m at physically,” said Massengill, who won the Training and Doctrine Command Best Warrior competition in 2019.
Each battalion was spread out in its own quadrant on the athletic field, said Buck.
“We spaced the lanes out, we spaced the box jumps and all those things out, so nobody is too close to each other,” he said. Competitors also wore gloves, and common equipment was sanitized between competitor use.
Throughout the competition, Soldiers cheered on their fellow Soldiers with words of encouragement, such as “Come on!,” Push it!,” and “Pain is Gain!”
Dozens of Soldiers from the brigade served as graders, helped run the competition, and ensured safety precautions were enforced.
Competitor Capt. Jennifer Clay, 1-30th FA, recently graduated from the Field Artillery Captains Career Course, and will be lea
ving for Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington. She said competition forges bonds.
“You get the sense of team, and build relationships with the people who you work with, and will go to war with,” she said. “This competition is like doing PT (physical training), but this has more motivation behind it.”
1st Sgt. Derrian Richardson, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, was the captain of the winning team, which consisted of members from three of its batteries.
“It feels good to win,” he said. “We worked really long PT hours on our own after work.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Gerry German, 428th FA CSM, said there was no shortage of Soldiers and leaders who wanted to compete. He said improvements were made from the inaugural challenge.
“This year we made it a little bit bigger, a little bit tougher,” he said. “We’re trying to push a sense of competitiveness, and a culture of fitness and resiliency into the organization.”
During the award ceremony on the field, Buck said everyone in the 428th FA Brigade is either a leader, or training to become one. Competition makes more effective Soldiers, and it’s a chance for Soldiers to showcase their fitness levels.
“The spirit of competition pushes us to be bigger, stronger, faster and better at our job,” he said. “Anytime we can infuse competition, I think that’s a healthy and good thing.
1st place Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Raymond Dephillips, C/1-78th FA, Army Commendation Medal
2nd place Staff Sgt. Kyle Margiotta, B/1-30th FA, Army Achievement Medal
3rd place Spc. Dylan Crawford, Certificate of Achievement
Team winner: 1-78th FA, Battalion, and brigade coins of excellence.