MELBOURNE, FLA.—Members of the Florida Institute of Technology Army ROTC Ranger Challenge team have again won top honors in the largest regional ROTC competition in the nation. Florida Tech cadets came in first place overall, defeating 41 other universities from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico. The Panther Battalion Rangers, from one of the smallest universities in the competition, finished first in three of the 10 events and placed in the top three in five more events. The Florida Tech team also took first place in 2008 and 2007.
The annual competition, held this year at Fort Benning, Ga., occurred over the course of three days, starting Oct. 23. The teams pushed themselves to their mental and physical limits while competing in such events as the army physical fitness test, rifle marksmanship, construction of a one-rope bridge, night land navigation; timed disassembly and assembly of an M-16; and a grueling 10k run in full equipment weighing more than 25 pounds.
The Ranger team members were cadets William Crish (team captain), Kevin Sklenicka, Travis White, Ryan Loughran, Joseph Dixon, Tayor Boyd, John Temple, John Vetter, Kenny Knight and A.J. Lorenzo.
Florida Tech Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Scott Caldwell was there to watch his team take home the championship trophy.
“Once again I am amazed by the dedication, discipline and drive for excellence that our Cadets display,” said Caldwell. “I credit the team coach, MSG Michael Sonnenschein, and Cadet Crish for developing the physical training regimen that carried them to victory. These cadets are truly representative of the caliber of students that attend Florida Tech and the best our younger generation has to offer.”
The cadets’ feat was celebrated on campus Oct. 29. In a ceremony, participating cadets received their “branching” pins, the pins that identify their choice of U.S. Army branch upon commissioning.