By By Steve Arel, U.S. Army Cadet CommandApril 19, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- It took 17 years for an American team to break Britain's grip on the Sandhurst Competition title.
But after a team from the United States Military Academy claimed the championship at last year's famed event, could an Army ROTC team do the same this weekend?
Americans "did it once, we can do it again," said Terri Craig, a Cadet with 1st Brigade representative The Citadel. "We should come home with a trophy."
Some 55 teams, including one from each of Army ROTC's eight brigades, square off Friday in a competition that tests participants physically and mentally.
The competition sports international flair. The field includes squads from Canada, Chile, Spain and Australia.
And, of course, Britian.
Until last year, the Brits had dominated the competition, with the Canadians winning a handful of times.
Since ROTC teams began competing in 1992, none has ever won. Northern Arizona University led the ROTC entries last year, coming in 15th.
Several ROTC programs are back. And Capt. Rickie Meers, of Cadet Command's training division who is serving as a competition liaison between ROTC and West Point, said he believes that experience will pay off in a top 10 finish.
"They're ready to go," he said. "They've got people who have been here before. Then again, so does everybody else. It should be a good competition."
The competition began in 1967 with the presentation of a sword by the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, to West Point to use as the prize in a competition that promotes military excellence. The Sandhurst Competition is an intense event that challenges participants to work together and use their ingenuity, leadership and physical drive to overcome obstacles involving land navigation, first aid, combat fitness and decision-making.
Most Cadet Command teams have been in West Point since early in the week, working to familiarize Cadets with the terrain and to practice in the unfamiliar surroundings.
The Citadel spent Thursday morning practicing marksmanship, which will be contested Friday, and the afternoon working on waterborne maneuvers.
Craig said she and her fellow Cadets also were spending time getting to know participants from other countries and simply taking in the experience.
"This is an amazing opportunity to learn," she said.