Merrillville High School Air Force JROTC cadets participated in their first official Raiders event, finishing ninth out of 13 Indiana schools. The team was made up of freshmen, sophomores and one senior!
Major John Robinson, MHS senior aerospace studies instructor, said he was impressed with their performance, considering they don’t have a course to train on.
“They really put forth a lot of effort,” he said. “It is very physically demanding, but the cadets really enjoyed it. They were all sore and dirty by the end of it.”
The Raiders competition, run by the Army JROTC, consists of five events: a 5K run; a rope bridge that the team ties and crosses; and combinations of climbing walls, flipping tires, low crawling, etc.; all while they carry heavy ruck sacks and equipment.
“Each event is very exhausting, so I try to get the cadets into as good of physical shape as I can,” Major Robinson said. “We run and do calisthenics. I found two trees to practice for the rope bridge. Since we don't have a wall, we climb on a shipping container that is in the high school parking lot."
He hopes one day the JROTC will have its own training course out by the railroad tracks.
While the cadets participated in an event last spring, it wasn't an official Raiders event, according to Major Robinson.
“That one only had six-person teams, while the official event has 12,” he said. "Ten cadets are in each event, which means two can sit out each event. There must be at least four girls in each event.”
Major Robinson said there were five girls on the team this year.
“Each team does one event per hour, and there is a rotation schedule so all events are running all the time,” he said. “It takes about five hours for the whole thing to be done.”
He added that each state has a championship, and the top three teams go to nationals in Georgia. Indiana's state championship is at Camp Atterbury, which is south of Indianapolis.
“I am hoping to grow the team to be more competitive in future years,” Major Robinson added.
Click here to watch a video of MHS JROTC cadets in action!