Central Washington University’s Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) unit defeated a team from Gonzaga to earn a spot in the ROTC “Super Bowl,” next month’s prestigious Sandhurst Competition at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Last Saturday (March 3), the two units squared off in a daylong series of nine events at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. CWU won seven events outright*physical fitness, land navigation, marksmanship under pressure, military strategy, rope-bridge building, communication, and overall time. The competition also tested skills in first aid and boat movement.

CWU's victory officially positions it as the best Army ROTC unit in the 8th Brigade, which encompasses programs in eight western states and the Pacific Rim.

“Our cadets trained hard and it showed,” said training officer Major Jay Cook, adding that the cadets were further evaluated on how long it took to complete tasks and how well they completed them. “We didn’t know what the events would be until we arrived, but the cadets adapted to every situation and did extremely well.”

Cadet Sean Flanagan, a senior from Cle Elum, said his team was on pins and needles*until the competition began. “Once the events started, we showed what we were made of,” said Flanagan, a geography major, who attributed the success of the nine-person team to its ability to stay loose. “We just mesh together. We have the same personality type; were confident and pretty relaxed. A lot of schools we compete against don’t like that!”

CWU President James L. Gaudino, a veteran of the US Air Force, watched the competition. “It was an incredible group with a whole lot of spirit,” he said, adding that the 8th Brigade officers observing the competition commented on the great spirit and comradery of CWU's cadets.

“Our students really pulled together in a remarkable show of physical strength, problem solving, stamina, and teamwork for more than seven hours*with no rest or lunch breaks!”

CWU now advances to the Sandhurst Competition, which is considered by some cadets to be the Super Bowl of ROTC. The 46th annual event will be held April 20 and 21 at West Point. The international competition*involving teams from CWU and seven other ROTC units nationwide, six American universities, the United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, United Services Military Apprenticeship Program, and international squads from Afghanistan, Australia, Chile, Spain, and Taiwan*is based on a similar seven-event format.

The Sandhurst Competition began in 1967, when the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) presented West Point with a British officer's sword as a prize for a competition to promote military excellence among the corps of cadets.