ROTC duos tackle Buddy Challenge

Gretchen Burns | Collegio Writer

Six members of the Pittsburg State ROTC competed in the 18th annual Midwest Region ROTC Best Ranger Buddy Competition at Kansas University on March 31. The teams combined to help PSU get second place overall.
Sgt. 1st class Forest Robertson says that the Ranger Buddy Competition is a day-long competition that includes multiple events that challenge participants physically.
Robertson says the competition began with a long distance Road March at 5 a.m. He says the participants then worked their way round robin through eight events that focused on various tasks, such as rope climbing, engaging targets with grenades, paintball or air-soft guns and were tested on knots and/or other classes of supplies. Robertson says the final event was a long-distance buddy run that was roughly three or four miles long, and it involved crawling through mud and carrying their partner.
“The focus was to get their heart rates up, throw them in the mud, and make them suck and struggle through the course,” Robertson said.

Kada Barbour, left, sophomore in justice studies, and Lexi Skaggs, right, freshman in public relations, stand up after crawling through a patch of mud, during the Buddy Ranger Challenge in Lawrence. on March 31. Photo by:Alex Weatherbie/Collegio

Kada Barbour, left, sophomore in justice studies, and Lexi Skaggs, right, freshman in public relations, stand up after crawling through a patch of mud, during the Buddy Ranger Challenge in Lawrence. on March 31. Photo by:Alex Weatherbie/Collegio


The Pitt State ROTC teams competed against 130 other teams from 28 schools and 18 states. The Pitt team of Paul Hartfield and Keith Weaver took second in the male division; Kristina Willis and John Fatkin took fourth place in the co-ed division; and Kada Barbour and Lexie Skaggs took second in the female division.
Robertson says the teams began training in January and continued through March. He says the skills training for weapons assembly, grenade throwing and testing of knots was done with advisers, but the physical training was done on their own time with their partner. Robertson says the teams practiced on a small-scale course the Saturday before the competition.
Paul Hartfield says he was proud to represent Pittsburg State University in such a well-known event that featured several schools.
“We competed and beat several Division 1 schools,” said Hartfield, junior in information systems. “And it meant a great deal to go to KU and tie with them on their own turf.”
Hartfield says he thinks the Ranger Buddy Competition creates comradery among the ROTC members and friends, and he knows that he will participate in the competition again next year.
“I did it last year with the same buddy,” Hartfield said. “Without a doubt, I will compete in the buddy ranger next year.
Among the results: All-female team – Lexi Skaggs/Kada Barbour, second place out of 13 teams; all-male team – Paul Hartfield/Keith Weaver, second place out of 88 teams; all-male team – Hal Rivard/Andrew Thomas, eighth place out of 88 teams; all-male team – Adam McDonald/Sean Gilbert, 21st place out of 88 teams; and co-ed team – Kristina Willis/John Fatkin, fourth place out of 17 teams.
Student coaches for the competition were Jared Beachner, Mason Johnson, Stephen Cuff, Clayton Argyle and Ethan Clouse.

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