"This is the first year [the championships] is just Army national, and they did away with east and west regionals and basically allowed each state to send their best [schools]," Maj. David Sexauer said.
Bringing home eight trophies and competing against 120 schools in 18 events, highlights from the Georgia State Drill Championships included senior Shane Harper, who for the second year won First Place Regulation Armed Platoon Commander, and the female armed exhibition team, which won third place during AHS' first year in the event.
Harper said he was proud of his fellow cadets for their performance during the state competition and that he's looking forward to competing at nationals.
"[Going to nationals] is a really good accomplishment, not only of myself, but by the people that came before us," Harper said. "We had really solid leaders in the past and other people that have really made this program what it is to take over, and what's really great is, now that we're going to nationals is, it's really a symbol of our accomplishment and our hard work that I myself had to do my part and it was a really good feeling to know that hard work paid off."
Freshman Emily Sexauer choreographed the routine.
"I had some good ideas in my head, so I just wrote them down and shared them with the team and then we got started," Sexauer said.
She said the six-and-a-half minute routine was outlined into about seven different phases the team had to memorize, then the team incorporated rifle moves.
Freshman Amber Litteral, and her twin sister, Kaylee Litteral, said while learning the ins-and-outs of a rifle team and memorizing the routine have been a challenge, they also have enjoyed the new experience.
"The first time I ever touched a rifle was in the second week of school," Amber Litteral said.
Working their way up from lightweight rifles, the team has had their fair share of challenges, which the team says included accidentally breaking a rifle when practicing. However, team members said they were not discouraged.
"I'm glad that I could be a part of it," Emily Sexauer said. "In my head it's kind of hard to imagine because we worked so hard and it's our first year and we ended up doing so well, and what we achieved as a team going into state was only the greatest thing I could imagine. That's probably the best experience I've had so far this year is winning third place with my team."
Harper said he feels he can apply what he's learned during his years in JROTC to his personal life and life after high school.
"It's really helped me understand what it means to be a leader and how to really go about myself in the public," Harper said. "I can't just look around looking shabby and everything, it's really taught me to stand up straight and look professional, to being organized and disciplined when putting our uniform together and marching in a formation.
"... It's really helped me to understand what it means to be organized and disciplined later in life, and that's a wonderful thing to take from JROTC."
AHS JROTC Georgia State Drill Championships results:
Male Platoon Armed Regulation, first place
Male Platoon Unarmed Regulation, second place
Male Color Guard, third place
Male Armed Squad, third place
Male Unarmed Squad, third place
Female Platoon Unarmed Regulation, third place
Female Armed Squad, third place
Female Squad Exhibition, third place