FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Soldiers of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, honed their skills during an extensive training exercise called Diehard Stakes. They completed multiple tasks in a friendly competition, honing their skills while building camaraderie. They were evaluated on tasks mainly focused on route clearance operations from Feb. 10 to Feb. 21.

During the stakes, the 'Diehard' Soldiers competed in nine categories: a modified Army physical fitness test, leaders reaction course, land navigation, first aid/casualty extraction, an obstacle course, a stress shoot, a dismounted clearance lane, a route clearance equipment evaluation lane, and a weapons assembly/disassembly/demolition test.

The top squad received Army Achievement Medal, two four day passes, no duty for one month, and a plaque, while the second squad will receive a Certificate of Achievement and a four day pass, and the third place squad will receive a battalion coin and a three day pass.

The Soldiers maneuvered to each station of the competition and planned their own routes during the course. Most of the time, the Soldiers carried everything they needed on their back to complete their tasks at the various course lanes.

"Physically, my Soldiers are being tested," said Sgt. Charles Marshall, a squad leader with the 72nd Mobility Augmentation Company, 1st Eng. Bn.

"I liked the Leader's Reaction Course," Marshall said. "It works on mind solutions during a short time frame and with limited resources."

One example of the challenges Soldiers faced occurred during the LRC where they had to cross an open area using only a large wooden board.

Another challenge was the "Stress Shoot" lane, where the squad had to work together as a team to push a HUMVEE up to a firing line and then engage targets. Marshall said shooting accurately while physically exhausted was the greatest challenge of this event.

"I liked the Stress Shoot," said Pfc. Travis Tombaugh. "It was definitely realistic and is worthwhile training."

The winning squad was 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, 41st Maneuver Augmentation Company, comprised of Staff Sgt. Donald Vancamp, Spc. Nathan Elliott, Spc. Anthony Navarro, Spc. Christopher Labeause, Pfc. Aaron Bevan, Pfc. Bryan Sexton, Pfc. Adam Skrdlant, and Pfc. Austin Miller.