Ranger Challenge gives ROTC cadets from across the state an opportunity to compete

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - More than 140 cadets from across the state laced up their boots for a competition that requires intense training: the Ranger Challenge.

This is the first year the Task Force Ripley Ranger Challenge was held in the Black Hills.

Maj. Jon Harvey is an Assistant Professor for Military Science at the School of Mines.

'We're conducting the ranger challenge involving eight ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) from across the state, who have all come here to see who gets the best team to go on to the regional championships in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in November," said Harvey.

For the past three years, the competition was held in Minnesota, but this year the ROTC wanted a bigger challenge... something the Black Hills has to offer.

"Plus we've got some very unique terrain: rocks, cliffs, we've got a canyon they're gonna be hiking through and what this does is it challenges these Eastern schools coming from the plains, we've got 3.500 feet right now where we're standing and the march this afternoon will be over elevations of 3,500 to 4,000 feet," said Harvey.

Captain Watkins is in charge of the obstacle course says takes about 15 minutes for a team showing good performance to complete.

"It gets them out here to see stuff they might not have seen before and let them know what they need to improve or develop on. It also gives the community a chance to see what it is that the military is out there doing, how we're staying ready to fight and maintain the safe borders," said Harvey.

Speed and accuracy determine the winning team who will compete next month is Missouri. That winning team will travel to the US Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for the Sandhurst Competition in the spring to compete against teams from other countries and military services.