Running and crawling through rain and mud. Systematically approaching a problem situation. Working as a team to accomplish a goal.

That was the weekend the Magna Vista High School JROTC raider team faced last weekend, and this coed group succeeded in every way.

The Warriors captured their first Best of The Best Raider Championship, beating teams from Delaware, Washington D.C, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for the most coveted title in the JROTC Cadet Command’s Fourth Brigade.

And although winning was the highlight of the rainy Saturday at Lee Ford Camp in Ridgeway, simply getting to the starting line for the first the obstacle course was, well, an obstacle in itself.

The top teams from each mid-Atlantic state earned their rights to compete at the Best of The Best with their performances throughout the year, by attending qualifying meets and ultimately by earning an invitation.

Magna Vista won the Virginia Mixed Team State Championship in November 2018, along with being the top team in other qualifiers throughout the year and winning three of the four qualifying meets they attended. The Best of the Best Championship simply capped off that season. 

Team Commander Jordan Ramsey led the team, and his mates said he worked hard to ensure his team was well-prepared for the biggest meet of the year.

“Physically, he had us run miles without stopping, and mentally he encouraged us to keep going and not give up,” Trinity Davis said.

“He would push us to our limits and encourage us to do our best,” David Sharpe said.

Skye Davis noted that Ramsey pushed his teammates out of their comfort zones at practice. That strategy paid off during the competition, especially during the 5k run, the first obstacle of the day.

“I was dead on my feet,” Skye said. “We had to motivate and push each other.”

Unlike typical 5k events, in which runners traverse a 3.1-mile course, the first person to cross the finish line in this one wasn’t automatically declared the winner. The Best of the Best is a team event, meaning the time does not stop until the last member finishes. All members also must stay within 20 meters of each other during the run.

Enrique O’Campo and Ramsey were the driving force during the 5k by encouraging and physically assisting their teammates. The Warriors tied for third, with a time of 27 minutes, 29 seconds.

“We pushed past our comfort zone and limit,” Savannah Greer said.

Teamwork pays off

Next, the group tackled the team physical fitness challenge, which some team members called the hardest obstacle of the day, because of the rainy conditions.

 “Because of the muddy hills, we had to push one another through it,” Quigg said.

“The weather has a big impact because people slide and can easily get hurt,” Skye said. “You must think of different strategies.”

During this event team members each carried a full, 5-gallon water can for 20 meters, then negotiated a low crawl, ran up a hill and through the woods and negotiated a hurdle. After the hurdle, the team carried a log for approximately 30 meters. Once the log was in place, the team had to run the approximately half-mile course in reverse.

 “We pulled it off [by] working as a team and pushing each other up the muddy hills,” O’Campo said.

“It [the weather] had a big impact, but we had to keep going because we did not want to let the team down,” Trinity said.

The Warriors placed second with a time of 4:15, only 6 seconds behind the leader.

“We overcame this event by having our team members push us through and motivate us,” Kaitlyn Silvers said.

Third, the team competed in the litter carry. This event consisted of members carrying two litters with simulated weights of casualties of 120 pounds for approximately a quarter-mile, through an obstacle course.

They lifted the litters over a 6-foot-high obstacle, then ran to a low crawl, where they dragged the litter for 10 meters. They ran through the woods, going up and down inclines, over downed trees and up hills, finishing in 1:48, 5 seconds behind the leader.

Next was the logistic relay, an approximately quarter-mile course, with a hurdle and other ground obstacles. They ran down a 50-yard hill, picked up a boat and ammo case weighing 75 pounds, carried both to a launch point, and David Sharpe and Aaron Woods placed the ammo case in the boat.

Quigg and Ramsey then rowed to the far shore of a pond, where O’Campo pulled the ammo box out of the boat and, with Sharpe and Woods taking turns, carried the ammo box back to its original position. 

Once Ramsey and Quigg rowed the boat back to the near shore, Silvers, Skye and Trinity pulled the boat out of the water and carried it back to its original position.

With the box and boat replaced, team members ran back up the hill to the finish line. The teamwork paid off with a time of 2:12, fastest time of the meet.

The final challenge

The last event of the day was the one-rope bridge, historically one of the best events for Magna Vista’s raiders. They tied Swiss seats and constructed a bridge between two trees 52 feet apart, which the members then crossed.

Skye led the way, tying her seat and taking the rope to the far side in preparation of securing it to a tree. One of the fastest in the Fourth Brigade, Skye completed her task in 20 seconds. 

Quigg and Greer prepared the rope with a transport knot in preparation of the tightening of the rope. Skye then wrapped the rope around the tree on her side, and the team pulled the rope to tighten it up for crossing. Woods was the first person to cross, followed closely by Trinity, to get the team off to a fast start.

Upon completion of the crossing, Ramsey and Skye untied the knots and broke down the bridge. Despite two unchartered, 10-second penalties, the Magna Vista team brought home a second-place finish with a total time of 1:59.

The key to the Best of the Best Championship was consistency throughout the day, finishing in the top three of all five events. The Warriors won the logistic relay, was runner-up in the team physical fitness challenge and one rope bridge and finished third in the 5k and litter-carry events.

“It felt like a major relief because we sacrificed our time to be at practice and to give everything we had,” Sharpe said. “So now the stress is gone.”

Said Skye: “It was a great feeling since we worked really hard and pushed ourselves as a team to win.”

For some members, winning the Best of the Best was a personal achievement.

“It felt amazing because it was my third attempt at winning it,” O’Campo said.

“It felt like I worked hard for something my entire life,” Silvers said.

It was a “great accomplishment,” Quigg said, “knowing I now hold a another major title.”

Looking to do it again

For Trinity, the camaraderie of her team was a victory in and of itself.  “It was the best feeling, seeing that everyone around me was so happy and smiling,” Trinity said.

The competition was a great way to end a stellar career for several seniors.

Ramsey has been on the team all four years and served as commander for the past two, leading the Warriors to three state titles plus this Best of the Best Championship.

Skye has been on the Raider team for three years, and Gilbert, although in his first year, was an integral part of the team’s success during second part of the season.

Trinity said the returning team members must pull closer together to make next year’s unit as strong as this one.

 “We have to motivate ourselves even more,” Sharpe said, “We must grow as a team and let the new people coming in know what our standards are.”

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