AT the break of dawn, cadets from the Marianas High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Northern Marianas College Senior Reserve Officers Training Corps on Saturday competed in the 2nd (not 3rd as earlier reported) Annual Extreme Raider Challenge held at MHS.

There were five teams: Team Itim, Cho Debu, Island Made, and Taco Belles from the MHS JROTC and Proa Warrior from the NMC SROTC.

Each team raced against the clock to complete a multitude of strenuous physical fitness events, including push-ups, curl-ups, a mile-run, the Assault Beach Run, the Van Push, the Team Pull-Up, the Litter Carry, and the Relay Race.

Every cadet was required to complete each challenge without any physical help, else they forfeited the challenge.

These challenges tested their strength, endurance, and ability to work together as a team.

Cadets ran a mile around certain parts of the MHS campus, with scorers from the MHS SROTC and the U.S. Army Reserve keeping close track of each cadet’s mile time.

After the pull-ups challenge, the cadets changed into their Army combat uniforms, running over a mile on the beach in teams of six, carrying four rucksacks filled with weights.

The NMC SROTC carried 20- and 30-pound rucksacks while the MHS JROTC 15- and 30-pound rucksacks.

Following the Assault Beach Run, the teams headed to the relay race consisting of flipping gigantic tires, carrying two average-sized tires, as well as physically carrying a fellow cadet over-the-shoulder from one point to another.

The teams then were tested in the Litter Carry, in which they worked together to carry a 100-pound dummy around an obstacle course, including crawling about 15 to 20 feet under a net through the mud.

“Everything catches on the net: hands, buns, hats. You have to really work together to make it out from under the net,” said Army Instructor SFC Albert Lujan, for his part.

The cadets then did the Team Pull-Up, in which three or four people from each team could get on the pull-up bar and be assisted up and down by teammates to complete as many push-ups as possible in just one minute.

“It’s all about how they strategize to do that. The teams can have just one cadet being assisted by the rest of the team, or they could have multiple being assisted,” said SFC Lujan.

The teams then competed to push a three-ton school van about 50 to 60 feet.

Afterwards, in the final event, the teams clipped a rope between two coconut trees — about 42 feet — and used a harness to get across the rope as a team.

Cadets were penalized for usage of any inappropriate language during the challenge.

Francis Valete scored the highest among the males, while Joan Repoberbio topped among the females.

Team Itim placed first, Cho Debu second, Proa Warrior third, Island Made fourth, and Taco Belles fifth.

Former Dolphin Battalion commander Daryll De Luna who led the NMC Proa Platoon during the challenge shared with Variety his experience with the challenge.

“The NMC Proa Platoon did amazing, and as the former BC of the Dolphin Battalion, I can also say that the Dolphin Battalion has really improved,” he said.

De Luna commended the battalion for moving forward with the challenge, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 3rd Platoon of NMC is an extension of the University of Guam SROTC.

“Even though we are distant from UOG, we are still able to join in with these community events. To be actively engaging in the community is a very good way to advertise who we are and we do,” said De Luna.

He noted that the ERC also serves as a great way for cadets to train and prepare for basic training, or weeks-long hardcore training for those seeking to become U.S. Army soldiers.

“It’s a great way to prepare and condition ourselves mentally and physically on this path to become U.S. Army soldiers or officers,” he added.

The ultimate goal for the ERC was to have all of the high schools participate and compete against each other. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only the Dolphin Battalion and the NMC Proas SROTC were able to compete in the ERC this year at MHS.

“Our kids were really disappointed that not a lot of teams were able to come because of Covid, but if they could have been here, there would have been about 10 to 15 teams competing for sure,” said SFC Lujan.

MHS Principal Jonathan Aguon, M.Ed., for his part, said, “This is a huge accomplishment for our JROTC battalion and for MHS in general. With the pandemic hitting the CNMI last year, a lot of our school’s clubs and organizations’ events had to close, but given that we are more educated about the correct procedures to follow and with the [current] state of the CNMI — what with our really strong protocols — we’re able to host an event like this.”

He added that the ERC is a great pilot school event that is compliant with Covid-19 guidelines, while also giving the students some sense of normalcy.

All spectators were required to wear face masks and keep within six feet of each other.

Aguon said MHS is very proud of the Dolphin Battalion for preparing for and participating in the ERC.

“They’ve been preparing for this for many weeks now. It’s a huge physical challenge for them. We’re very proud that they’re resilient and they’re pulling through for this event,” said the principal.

The challenge is a sign that good things come when people are patient, Aguon added.

“Yes, the school year is different for the students. We went from online learning to now a blended learning where the students can come to school and have face-to-face classes. Yes, there are some limitations, given that they have to wear a mask at all times on-campus, practice social distancing, and coming in cohorts, but we are still able to have this return to normalcy for the students, and it’s really good to see the students in-person. The school spirit is reviving again, and I think that this is something that the students have really been looking forward to,” he said.

Students are generally happy to be back on campus, Aguon said, noting the success of MHS students in events such as the ERC as well as athletic events.

He added, “The students are hungry for events like these. We see several of them here this morning. I think this is just a slight taste of what’s to come for the rest of the year, and hopefully for the new school year as well.”

Reporter

K-Andrea is a Gates Millennium Scholar who earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Since joining the MV team in Feb. 2020, she has been covering the political, environmental, and community beats.

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