FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 14, 2010) -- Competition was fierce on Fort Leonard Wood, Saturday, as nine universities throughout Missouri, Illinois and Kansas competed in the 3rd ROTC Brigade. Ranger Challenge. Truman University took home the gold as the overall school as well as the nine-person team winners, and the Washington University from St. Louis, Mo., girls team won in the female team division.

Competition began early Saturday morning with the Army Physical Fitness Test, which segued into a round robin of events, to include weapon grouping and assembly, Casualty Evacuation, which involves the carrying of an 180-lb. dummy through various obstacles, a grenade assault course, a one-rope bridge or knot tie event, in which participants must take two ropes and create a bridge for their team to cross over on within certain time constraints and land navigation courses. The grueling day ended with a 10k road march with a 30-lb bag.

"This event is the varsity sport of ROTC," said Lt. Col. Brendon Burke, Missouri S&T ROTC Commander. "It is an event that builds individual skills and teamwork between cadets, and we find that typically the most mentally strong come out because it is completely voluntary, and is a great accomplishment to just finish the events. They walk away with a confidence in their individual abilities to accomplish tasks and reach beyond the minimum."

The events are prepared for solely by the cadets. Cadre are there to supervise, but the training and execution of solutions is the work of the participants.

"You learn how to not only motivate your peers, but you also begin to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a team player or leader," Cadet Robert Best, who assisted in the competition this year after competing last year, said. "You not only have to come together as a team to create a plan of execution and a training schedule, but you also have to come together as a team and perform and hopefully win."

The competition was on time constraint for the most part, and the team that ranked first in the most events at the end of the day won. But for several cadets, winning was only part of the attraction of the day.

"More than anything you build camaraderie," Cadet Ty Lipe from Southern Illinois University said. "You meet cadets from all over and you leave here mentally tougher."

For the cadre who were there, which included Missouri Army National Guard personnel as well as instructors from the school, they could not have been prouder of how their cadets came together to accomplish missions.

"This event forces them to live the warrior ethos and dig deep inside themselves to become a better leader," Sgt. 1st Class J.D. Dillard, senior military instructor at Washington University, said. "I am proud to say the cadets out here did that and then some, they are well on the way to being the military leaders of tomorrow.

(Editor's note: Jasmine Walthall is the assistant editor of the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON.)