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“I could not be prouder of the battalion, especially with all the 4th Class midshipmen we brought this year,” said Midshipman 1st Class Emma Thompson, a senior from Freeport, Illinois, and Illinois’ NROTC battalion commander. “We really worked hard the past few weeks and I’m just happy about the camaraderie, dedication and competiveness they showed.”
More than 200 midshipmen from five other NROTC units journeyed to the UW-Madison campus for the event. The Wisconsin Badger battalion planned and ran the entire invitational that has been an annual autumn event for more than 40 years. It was the first time the event was held since 2019. Last year the invitational was canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Fighting Illini NROTC Battalion scored a total of 840.0 points to win by 188.3 points over second place Wisconsin (651.7). The University of Missouri finished third (611.7) with The Ohio State University coming in fourth (592.5) while Marquette and Northwestern (Chicago Consortium) universities followed in fifth and sixth place.
“It really means a lot to bring this unit here and have them perform so well,” Thompson said. “They all deeply care about their unit and the team, and I couldn’t be happier with how they performed.”
The invitational included military drill competitions, a physical fitness run around the campus and a rifle and pistol shooting competition. A Flag Football tournament was held again and a game of “Jeopardy” on Navy and Marine Corps knowledge was also included for the first time this year.
“I think it was pretty exciting,” said Illinois Midshipman 2nd Class Devin Lee, 20, a junior from Streator, Illinois. “It showed that we could see and accept a challenge and overcome it.”
Illinois Midshipman 2nd Class Robert Gortner, 20, a junior from Naperville, Illinois, said attending the annual invitational means a lot of getting to meet and talk with the other unit’s midshipmen. “We’re pretty isolated in central Illinois and don’t get too many chances to meet midshipmen from other units,” Gortner said. “Being able to interact and build relationships with other midshipmen is huge.”
What makes the Wisconsin event unique is the Urban Adventure Race (UAR), a grueling four-midshipman race around the university campus. The UAR averages between 6.2-miles and 9.2-miles. The demanding event includes exercise stations on the course. Each exercise station was worth points that were computed into the overall UAR time.
“I am thrilled we had the opportunity to host this again this year,” said Capt. John Barnett, commanding officer and NROTC Professor of Naval Science for the Wisconsin unit, who was hosting his first invitational since becoming the commanding officer in 2020. “It was a chilly start but it didn’t slow the units down one bit. I was very excited to host the other five schools. The enthusiasm was fantastic and I think it has been a huge success.”
Competition began early in the morning on October 23 with the UAR around the university’s campus. The course began at the Department of Naval Science building and consisted of several exercise stations that included pull-ups, buddy carries up and down Bascom Hill, that looks over the center of town and the state capital building, and several U. S. Marine Corps exercises out on Picnic Point on the shores of Lake Mendota. The competitors finished at the NROTC building. Marquette University took first place in the adventure race finishing with 200 total points. Illinois placed second with 160 points edging out third place Wisconsin who had 130 points. Ohio State, Missouri and Northwestern finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively in the UAR.
In the pistol and rifle competition, held at an indoor range in Deerfield, Wisconsin. UW-Madison finished first with 165 total points in rifle (100) and pistol (65). Illinois scored 150 total points, 100 points in pistol and 50 in rifle.
Also on Saturday, at the university’s Camp Randall Memorial Center, known as The Shell, and next to the football stadium, teams competed in three separate events – platoon rifle drill, squad rifle drill, and color guard. In preparation for the drill competition, the teams spend months practicing precise movements in unison. The event was graded by Marine Corps Assistant Marine Officer Instructors (AMOI), who critiqued each movement on the drill field. The Missouri Tiger Battalion took first place in platoon rifle drill, while The Fighting Illini Battalion took first in squad rifle drill. Illinois and Missouri tied for first in Color Guard with 150 points each. Northwestern took home the Flag Football title and Wisconsin won Jeopardy. Missouri knocked out the most pull ups in the day’s final event before the awards ceremony in the UW-Madison NROTC Department of Naval Science building.
Barnett handed out awards and congratulated all the midshipmen to close out Wisconsin’s 49th event.
The NROTC midshipmen that participated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison NROTC Fall Invitational are among more than 4,000 students enrolled in the NROTC program at colleges and universities throughout the country.
The NROTC program is supported by Rear Adm. Jennifer S. Couture, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), and her headquarters staff at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. NROTC was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically. The program also imbues in them the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval and Marine Corps officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
NSTC supports 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development program. NSTC’s support also includes RTC, the Navy’s only boot camp, also at Naval Station Great Lakes; the NROTC program at more than 160 colleges and universities; OTC at Newport, Rhode Island; and the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
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