The female team won first place in Cross Country Rescue, Rope Bridge and the Team Physical Test events as well as finished third in the Gauntlet and fifth in the Team Run. The male team finished seventh place overall, placing in the top eight in four of five events and bringing home a fourth-place trophy in the Rope Bridge event.
“It’s just incredible. We competed with so many schools that were much bigger than us,” 1st Sgt. Jerry Queen said of the win.
According to www.thenationals.net, “Raider events are specifically designed far less dangerous in comparison to their ROTC-level parallels because Junior ROTC is about citizenship, leadership and physical, mental and emotional wellness. ROTC is a program designed to provide officers into the U.S. military.”
Queen said being a Raiders team member requires a great deal of dedication from students outside of the classroom.
“During class we don’t do anything with Raiders — it’s all before and after school,” Queen said. “Basically, half our males and half our females are on [the] cross-country [team] and this is the first time Adairsville has qualified for state as a cross-country team. Being able to cross train like that has really helped both programs.”
He continued, “The biggest thing is Raiders is all about team. Your time doesn’t stop on anything until every boy or girl crosses the finish line, so you’re only as strong as your 10th person. All these girls and guys do not want to let their teammates down, so they really work hard to get better and not be the last one across. The juniors and seniors have built their way up to become the leaders of that team and we teach them how to lead by example.”
Female team commanders Emily Sexauer, a junior, and Chrissy Shook, a senior, said the preparation for the competition was stressful, but it paid off in the end.
“We ran twice a week at 7 o’clock in the morning before school, and we had one or two practices a week after school to practice rope bridges and stuff,” Sexauer said.
She said all the practice running was utilized during the competition, especially during the Gauntlet event, which both Sexauer and Shook said was extremely difficult.
“[Gauntlet] is a two-mile course, basically all uphill, and then there’s a turn around spot where you turn and go back down the hill and there’s five rucksacks between the 10 of us and that’s 35 pounds for each ruck [sack],” Sexauer said.
Shook said she is proud of the team’s first-ever national championship win and that it wouldn’t have been possible without each team member doing their best throughout the year.
“It’s pretty exciting and we’ve improved a lot since my freshman year,” Shook said. “We went from being nobody to something very big, and I’m glad to ... say I was commander of the team that won nationals.”
Freshmen and Raiders team member Mackenzie Stephenson said she enjoyed the victory and working with her team during her first semester.
“We work really well as a team. All of us had really good chemistry together and we all work really well together, and we all have pretty good relationships with each other,” Stephenson said.
Fellow freshman and Raider Ansley Leker reiterated her comments.
“I think of our team more as a family instead of a team because we’re so close and we work through everything together,” Leker said.
The JROTC program has existed at Adairsville High School for nine years with the Raiders Team working on its sixth year. For additional details on the national competition, visit www.thenationals.net.