OZARK, Mo.– “I’ll remember this for years to come.”
Ozark High School’s JROTC Raider team made school history in February. The mixed team won its first national championship at the U.S. Army National Raider Championship in Molena, Georgia.
A Raider competition is a fitness test. The Ozark team placed in the top four in each of the five events.
“We are kind of just a fitness-minded team,” Elliott Godwin, Senior and Captain of the Ozark team said.
The U.S. Army National Raider Championship is normally in November.
“Normally we have different meets spaced out and it’s easy to stay on that self-motivation that you have a meet after meet,” Godwin said.
The competition was delayed until February because of covid-19.
“Now you had four months of nothing but working out, and that was very, very difficult to stay with it. Stay with the diet.”
Kopelyn DeLong, who placed first in Female Division in the Ultimate Raider event, said she was a bit short on training for the event.
“I kind of came into this a little bit later than all of these guys did,” DeLong said.
She said her history with cross country helped ready her for the event.
“So I did have some training. I just helped out as much as I could,” DeLong said. “I came in and asked, ‘Where can I help?'”
After getting adjusted, February came around and she participated in four events.
The team placed third in gauntlet, first in the 5k mountain run, second in the litter carry, fourth in the ultimate raider and in the rope bridge the team placed second.
Finally, the winner was announced – Ozark High School.
“You hear the fifth place team called, the fourth place team called, the third place team called and the longer, and longer they go without calling Ozark the more excited you get,” senior Army instructor for the Ozark JROTC program Danny Cazier said. “It was a neat experience.”
“It feels pretty amazing,” DeLong said. “Cross country is more individual, and going into something like this that’s more team and like a family. I didn’t know I was going to get the chance to experience this.”
“Not only is it my last year, but it’s a lot of my teammate’s last year, so we wanted to go out with a bang,” Godwin said.
Coach Cazier said he believes that each of his competing JROTC teams have an opportunity to win a championship this year.
He says history has shown that’s unlikely, but Ozark is actually the only school in the nation to have pulled it off before.