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Taylorsville Journal

Cadets play the game of strength and brain

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Jet Burnham

Taylorsville High School’s JROTC orienteering team placed well in competition this season. (Jason Garn/Taylorsville HS)

Cadets in Taylorsville High School’s JROTC unit spent the month of October competing in various Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps competitions. Each competition tested specialized teams on a set of specific skills. Taylorsville’s Relay, Score, Orienteering and Raider teams exhibited their proficiency in military skills such as map-reading, knot-tying, physical fitness, tactical skills, teamwork, mental agility and strategic planning.

Relay Teams, which comprised of eight to 10 students, competed in orienteering challenges. They worked together to find five locations, and they called points using a map and compass. Two at a time, they navigated their way to one point, where they received a stamp and then returned to the rest of the team. Once back, the next pair made its way to the next point. Teams had a total of two hours to reach all five points in the challenge. 

Taylorsville’s teams ranked the fastest in the challenge, earning two of their teams first and second place in one event. The location of the event, which took place in Ogden, was unfamiliar terrain to the cadets, which forced them rely on their orienteering skills. 

Lt. Capt. Eric Flores, a member of THS’s relay team, said twice a week in JROTC classes, team members practice skills necessary for the orienting competitions, including map-reading and compass skills as well as endurance for the physical aspects of the challenge. He said running the course was the hardest part.

“We had to be able to have good endurance because we were running up and down steep hiking trails the whole time we were competing,” he said. “The points were spread fairly far apart, so it was a huge test of endurance.”

Another challenge at the competition was to test the skills of high school Score Teams. For this challenge, two team members were given one hour to find their way to several points. They would earn a varying amount of points depending on difficulty of the locations they made it to.

“For example, Point A could be worth five points, but Point C would be worth 10 points,” said Jason Garn, a student leader in the JROTC. “Each team of two had to strategize how to get as many points as it could in that one-hour block.” Taylorsville Score Teams performed well, placing first and fifth in that competition.

Raider Teams competed at a scrimmage held at Northridge High School and a Finals Event, the JROTC Wildcat Challenge, at Weber State University. 

THS sent two Raider Teams of nine cadets each to the event. Raider Team events consist of various tests to challenge physically as well as mentally.

Junior Johnathan Avila, a captain in THS’s JROTC, said while orienteering requires a lot of running and cardio exertion, Raiders use a lot of upper-body strength and mental skill.

Participants from 10 high school JROTC squads exhibited strength and endurance by running a 5k while carrying an extra 20 pounds. In other events, they sprinted through barricades and obstacle courses to test their tactical movement skills.

Their mental skills were tested with games of observation and memorization. 

Squads used teamwork and knot-tying skills as they raced to build a rope bridge to get their team across it and back again before taking the bridge down.

“It’s all timed, so we’ve got to do it as fast as we can,” said Avila.

Taylorsville’s JROTC classes focus on team work and using everyone’s skills to earn their wins. 

“I learned a lot about working as a team,” said Flores. “It really showed me how well we blend as a team.”

For the second year in a row, the Orienteering Team took first place overall in the competition that took place in Ogden on Sept. 23. Ben Lomond High School took second place, and Utah Military Academy took third. Two of Taylorsville’s relay teams placed first and second in the relay event.   

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