Adairsville High School’s JROTC Raiders are off to a promising start this season.
The male and female teams finished in the Top 3 in their divisions at their first contest of the year, the Raider Rampage Raider Competition, Saturday at AHS.
After competing in the six events, the 12-member male team, commanded by T.J. Bosdell, took home second place out of 20 teams — despite having three seniors absent due to ACT testing — while the female team, led by Sandra Nally, came in third place out of seven teams. A second male team, a young developmental team, also competed.
“The biggest take-away I got from Saturday was our male and female teams have the ability to be really good this year,” Army instructor 1st Sgt. Jerry Queen said. “You never know where you stand because you don’t know how good your competition is going to be. If we take away some of the mental mistakes we made Saturday, both teams would have won, and that is promising. We did a really good job on the strength events and the technical events. We just need to be more focused mentally and get better running. ... You have to give maximum effort and be smart in every event. Learning what it takes to be competitive requires some experience, and they got that Saturday.”
Senior Army instructor Maj. David Sexauer said AHS’s teams were “truly challenged at this meet.”
“Being the first meet of the season, it was the first time many of the cadets experienced the rigor and focus required in Raider events at true game speed,” he said. “Each cadet was able to take away something they could improve upon. We stress to know your job or role on each event and then to be consistent on how you execute your role.”
At the event, 480 Raiders on 40 teams from 18 schools — 17 from Georgia, including Cass High, and one from Alabama — competed in a 2.25-mile Team Run, Cross Country Rescue (carrying a 100-pound litter and four 35-pound rucksacks through a half-mile course with creeks, an 8-foot wall and a steep hill), Gauntlet (carrying five 35-pound rucks over a 1.5-mile cross-country course that included a 6-foot wall, hills and creeks), Obstacle Course (a 600-meter course with 14 obstacles such as rope climb, monkey bars, low crawl, vaults, 8-foot wall and 12-foot wall), Tire Flip and Carry (flipping a 500-plus-pound tire 40 yards then carrying 11 35-pound water cans, a 100-pound bag and a 75-pound wood box 40 yards) and One-Rope Bridge (constructing a one-rope bridge over a simulated water obstacle spanning 60 feet).
“At one point, we had 48 teams [registered to compete], but some schools south of Atlanta decided to cancel because of the traffic on [Interstate] 75 and I-85 was going to be too bad because of the people evacuating Florida,” Queen said, noting a team from Chattanooga also had to back out due to transportation issues.
In the male division, the Top 3 were Grissom High from Huntsville, Alabama, in first place, Adairsville in second place and Osborne High from Marietta in third place.
Top finishers in the female division were Dalton High in first place, Osborne in second place and Adairsville in third place.
In the mixed division, in which AHS did not have a team, the top finishers were North Paulding High in first place, Osborne in second place and King’s Academy from Woodstock in third place.
“Male 1 team made two technical mistakes that cost them first place, but that is part of Raiders — performing under pressure,” Queen said. “Female team had some mistakes and an injury that prevented them from winning. This team is also young, with only one experienced senior and five first-year Raiders, so they are going to go through some growing pains.”
The developmental team also did a “really good job” in what was the first Raider meet for most of the members, he added.
The male team — the most experienced team with eight seniors, one junior and three sophomores — won the Cross Country Rescue, Gauntlet and Tire Flip events while taking second in Obstacle Course and fourth in Team Run and Rope Bridge.
“The male team finally has some depth, and that depth helps push everyone to keep getting better,” Queen said.
The female Raiders — two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen — won the Obstacle Course and Tire Flip and took second in Rope Bridge, fourth in Team Run and fifth in Cross Country Rescue and Gauntlet.
“The female team has zero depth so they must stay healthy and keep getting better,” Queen said, noting six members have experience and six don’t.
The developmental team, which has eight first-year Raiders, placed third in Obstacle Course, fifth in Tire Flip, sixth in Cross Country Rescue, Rope Bridge and Gauntlet and eighth in Team Run.
Bosdell, 17, said he was “proud of how our team pulled through, considering that three senior Raiders were absent taking the ACT test, including myself.”
“I did show up around noon, and from what I saw, they handled the temporary team change well,” he said. “They were efficient, and the senior Raiders stepped up and led the team well. When mistakes were made, no one blamed anyone. They just owned up and made the best of the situation and got the best time they could.”
Nally, 16, said the female team’s first meet of the season was “definitely a work in progress.”
“We have a lot of first-year Raiders so this was a real learning experience for them,” the junior said. “Now that they have a feel for what is expected, I think we know where we stand and what we all need to work on to continue to refine our technique and improve as a team.”
Sexauer said the teams “show a lot of promise” and are “off to a rewarding season.”
“Our teams had some first-time jitters while performing in front of fans and against some other great teams,” he said. “Two of our three teams are quite young and rely on their upper-class leaders to settle them and motivate them to do well. Key to our success this season will flow from the cadet leadership and how they prepare their teams and inspire them to practice hard between meets.”
Making up the rest of the season for the AHS Raiders will be meets at Cedar Shoals High in Athens this weekend, North Paulding High Sept. 23, the state qualifier at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High Oct. 14 and Hiram High Oct. 21.
The state championship will be Oct. 27-28 at Spalding High School in Griffin, followed by the national championship Nov. 3-5 at Gerald Lawhorn Scouting Base in Molina.
Queen said his teams “have the ability to win” the state and national titles this year.
“The high school military academies are always good, and it will be a challenge to beat them, but we have high expectations,” he said. “We have a lot of Raiders that understand what it takes to be good enough to win at those competitions. It’s just a matter of putting in the effort at practice to get good enough to compete with the academies.”
His commanders agree.
Bosdell said winning nationals has been a goal that “all the males have been trying to reach for a long time, and I feel this is the year for us.”
“I believe our team’s chances are superb at state and nationals,” he said. “Almost everyone on the team already has Raider experience, and they have the drive to win. Not only are we physically fit, we are exceptionally intelligent in comparison to past years. I believe what will separate us from other teams is not only our physical ability and intelligence, but we all have a strong drive to win, and we have outstanding teamwork.”
“I expect that we will be competitive this year at state and nationals,” Nally said. “We will give our all and leave it all on the field.”