The event, held for the first time at AHS, is Sept. 13 and will include 30 teams ranging in distances from as far south as Savannah and as close as Cass High School. It begins the competition season, which will conclude in November with a national event in LaGrange.
At the upcoming invitational, Raiders will compete in five different courses including a 5K; the gauntlet, a mile-and-half run through creeks, up hills and over a wall with a 25 to 35 pound rucksack; the cross-country rescue where 10 team members carry at least five rucksacks and a 120 pound litter modeling an injured person across rough terrain; the one-rope bridge, a simulation of crossing a river using a rope; and an obstacle course.
The Raider competition is a team sport and does not include any individual scores in the ranking. AHS operates three teams; an all-male, an all-female and one mixed unit comprise AHS’s 35-member group.
First Sgt. Jerry Queen, AHS junior ROTC instructor, said, “One of the most important things Raiders learn is teamwork. Each team is only as good as its slowest member and no one student is recognized. The team has to learn to work as a unit and to motivate each other. When they are out there on the trail in the heat and tired with no coaches around, they have to encourage each other to finish. It is an excellent way to build teamwork and camaraderie.”
The AHS team is hopeful for this upcoming season of competition. Last year, the girls won first place in the national event and the boys won seventh.
Senior Emily Sexauer won the Ultimate Raider individual competition the past two years and is a leader among the girl’s team this year.
“Teamwork is important because you can accomplish goals more efficiently with a team and if you are working together,” Sexauer said. “On Raiders teamwork is everything; without your team you wouldn’t win anything.
“We stood out last year because of the work we put in and how much we wanted it. At the end of the day, it is who wants it most and that was us. We want to win it again this year, too.”
According to literature from the program, “Junior ROTC is the Department of Defense’s largest youth development program in secondary schools. Its purpose is to teach citizenship and leadership, while instilling self-esteem, teamwork and self-discipline in each cadet.”
Holden Gossett, a member of JROTC and a Raider, uses his influence as a senior to increase morale among the team and strengthen the group.
“We were successful last year and one reason was that we had a good leader who watched the leaders before him. He gleaned aspects he wanted in his leadership abilities and he built his role from what we saw in year’s past. He really helped us to attain seventh place in nationals.
“This year, I focus on team building because it is one thing I have seen that works really well. Really building the team and creating a brotherhood is very effective. To create a brotherhood, a sense of respect is vital. We must get to know the other Raiders and find out who is good at different things instead of being brutal amongst each other to see who is the absolute best. We take each other’s individualities and put them together to make a better team.”
Gossett believes through strong, focused goals the boys team can improve their performance.
“Our strongest area at nationals is the rope bridge and it is one of the most intricate events with specific jobs. The jobs all have to work together as a set of gears to get it done in the fastest, most efficient way possible. I am one of the members of the rope bridge and I have always wanted to see our performance excel beyond anyone else’s. One of our main goals is to get the rope bridge time down and earn a first or second place at nationals. The other goal is to create consistency across all our events.”