Success on the National Stage

Success on the National Stage
Posted on 12/21/2021
Blue Springs South High School Air Force Junior ROTC finished 2nd in the nation

Blue Springs South High School has once again made an impact on the national level. Members of the Jaguars Air Force Junior ROTC recently competed at the All-Service Raider Nationals competition in Molena, Georgia, finishing second in the nation.

The nationals consisted of the top Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine JROTC units in the country competing in four events: the 5K mountain run, raider gauntlet obstacle course, one-rope bridge construction and transport, and the physical team test.

This marks the third time in four years South has competed at Nationals. In 2018, the team finished as National runner-up in the Male Division; in 2019, South finished 5th in the nation in the Male division.

This season, Blue Springs South fielded a team in the Mixed category. The Jaguars’ team was comprised of both boys and girls, with each event requiring six males and four females to compete. Team members were Gabby Hampton, Danny Hampton, Kellen Heinzman, Christopher Hensley, Claire Hicks, Emerson Jenkins, Madeline Jones, Shawn Jordan, Joey Lorek, Lexi Mattson, Cole Nichols, Seth Nunez, Austin Palmer, and Joe Rodgers.
The team tied for the most points scored, but finished second overall due to tiebreakers.

Heinzman, a Cadet Colonel, said the team adapted well to each challenge and relied on teamwork and strategy to succeed.

“I believe the toughest event for the team was the Raider Gauntlet obstacle course,” he said. “This consisted of jumping through a tire, climbing an eight-foot wall, and low crawling through small drainage pipes, all while carrying rucksacks and ammo boxes. The toughest part was getting over the eight-foot wall. Although it was a struggle, the team adapted and figured out the best way to safely get everyone up and over the wall quickly.”

Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Lorek felt Nationals required an even greater level of focus and attention than any other competition.

“It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to compete at Nationals,” he said. “When we compete, we all need to know our roles as well as what other people on the team will be doing otherwise, a few seconds lost could mean the difference between finishing first or fifth.”

Heinzman said teamwork above all else was the reason for the team finishing so well.

“The Nationals rosters are only comprised of 16 athletes, so that is all we could put on the team,” he said. “Because it was only us, however, we were able to perform quickly and effectively. I also think the limited numbers really helped boost our morale. The 16 of us are very close and I think that it was just an amazing experience to go compete with the people who are like family to you.”

The Raiders National team dedicated its season to Perry Hunt, former team commander who passed away last year.

“We didn’t go to nationals last year due to COVID-19, so we made sure to make this year count,” Lorek said. “We dedicated our season to Perry Hunt, who was our Raider Commander two years ago when we got 5th in the nation. We did the best that we could in honor of him.”