Tarleton Army ROTC made history when it brought home first place in the North Texas Regional ROTC Ranger Challenge at Fort Hood on Oct. 27-29.

The 11-cadet team now advances to the Army ROTC 5th Brigade Ranger Challenge Head-to-Head Competition, competing against six other regional winners across eight states at Camp Bullis in San Antonio in November.

Tarleton fielded two teams for the competition. 

The Tarleton cadets dominated the 13-team field, consisting of teams from nine other universities: Baylor, Prairie View A&M, SFASU, SHSU, TAMU-CT, TCU, UMHB, UNT, UTA. Over a three-day period the cadets worked as a team, negotiating and competing in 10 events ranging from a physical fitness test, weapons assembly/disassembly, night land navigation, tactical combat causality care, to a 10-mile forced foot march with a 35-lb. ruck. Tarleton cadets placed no lower than third in any event while taking home the first place streamer for the one rope bridge, tactical combat casualty care, night land navigation and weapons assembly/disassembly events.

“The competition was definitely a challenging task, both physically and mentally. My teammates and I trained hard, and remained dedicated, while still completing our obligations to the university,” said Ranger Challenge Platoon Sgt. Austin Laughlin. “It was rewarding to see all of the work bring honor to the Lord, the University, ROTC and my platoon. My teammates and I recognize that this competition is a stepping stone to prepare us for an even greater challenge, the defense of the nation.” 

The first place team is led by cadet platoon leader, senior Joshua Bitzkie and cadet platoon sergeant junior Austin Laughlin. 

The other nine members include juniors Adam Arata, John Zellner; sophomores Nick Bonicoro, Justin Brunett, Gabrielle Howes, Scout Lindsey; freshmen Jacob Helmers, Christopher Mazzocchi and Esias Ortiz.  

The Tarleton Army ROTC program is under the guidance of Lt. Colonel Marty Deckard, professor of military science and Master Sgt. Jacob Gilmer, senior military science instructor.