ROTC to host first ‘Raider Challenge’

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

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High school students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Mattoon High School and Richland County High School in Olney, Illinois will compete in a physical competition Saturday on campus.

The competition is called the “Panther Raider Competition,” which is hosted by the EIU Panther Battalion (the Army ROTC program on campus).

The competition starts at 8 a.m. at the field near the Campus Pond Pavilion and the Panther Trail.

It will then move to the field next to the Tarble Arts Center on Ninth Street.

Captain Ben Leman, an Army ROTC cadet, said the “Panther Raider Competition” is based off a JROTC High School Raider Challenge.

High schools with JROTC programs across the country compete with each other in these raider challenges, which consist of physical competitions, strength tests or soldier skills, Leman said.

These challenges are based on traditional Army ROTC training but are geared toward the high school level, Leman said.

“We’re doing something that’s kind of like that, but it’s more of a

Leman said the two schools slated to compete on Saturday will face off against each other in teams of ten with two alternates.

He said the challenges include a 5k trail run along the Panther Trail while wearing full military gear; a modified Army Combat Fitness Test, which consists of a one-mile run, doing push-ups for a minute and doing leg-tucks (or a pull up using the person’s knees rather than arms to pull themselves up) in a minute.

“After those events, they’re going to be crossing a rope bridge…where one rope is on one end of two trees and they have to use a carabiner to slide across it,” Leman said.

The final event is called the “Panther Gauntlet,” which is an obstacle course that consists of high crawls, flipping big tires that the Eastern football team uses during its practices, carrying jerry cans across a field and a “litter carry” (a form of transport).

“It’s not an official Raider Challenge … but it’s to give the JROTC kids an idea of what the Raider Challenge is like,” Leman said. “There’s still going to be trophies and medals and we’re trying to do this every year (from now on).”

Leman said by hosting the competition, Eastern’s ROTC program is able to get its name out there but also build community connections especially with the high schools.

He also said it is a way for the students in the JROTC programs to get a taste of what the Army is like.

“Bringing them to see what ROTC is like, they get to that opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I want to join that,” Leman said.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].