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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM ROTC Team Wins Big at Ranger Challenge Competition

Eleven cadets from the University of Mississippi Army ROTC Program recently captured top honors at the annual Ranger Challenge Team Competition.

Forty-four other ROTC programs from colleges and universities in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana participated in the two-day series of physically challenging and military-focused events. Challenge events included a road march, physical fitness test, night land navigation, weapons shooting and disassembly-reassembly, obstacle course, hand grenade assault course, constructing a one-rope bridge, trauma lane and small boat operations. The competition was staged at Fort Benning, Ga.

As a team, UM placed second out of the field of 45.

“We invested a great amount of time in training for this competition, which set us up for success,” said Cadet Team Captain Aaron Proctor of Crystal Springs. “Our team performed very well throughout the 32 hours of physically and mentally challenging events. During the entire competition, our team negotiated each task very aggressively and consistently finished with outstanding times.”

In the 2008 competition, UM placed first in its tier and third overall. The next year, the university placed fourth overall. UM is in the top tier, of four, with the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Florida State University, Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University, among others.

Other UM cadets in the competition were Bond Finseth of Hattiesburg, Michael Jones of Tupelo, Gus Neely of Madison, Dustin Kisner and Alexis Chandler of West Point, Caleb Pittman of Germantown, Tenn., John Bolding of Decatur, Ala., Matthew Astorino of Fairfax Station, Va., Justin Palatini of Rockaway, N.J. and Donald Keshel of Fort Belvoir, Va.

The team prepared for this year’s competition by conducting physical training five days a week. Members also worked on military skills during their weekly labs.

“Our program has traditionally done well at this event,” said Lt. Col. John Abruscado. “Cadet Proctor, who has participated with the team in the last several competitions, is an outstanding cadet and student.”