The Fighting Mules show their strength

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Cadets Ian Powers and Robert Smith participate in a challenge. (Photo by LIZ WOOD, for The Muleskinner)
Cadets Ian Powers and Robert Smith participate in a challenge. (Photo by LIZ WOOD, for The Muleskinner)

Story by LIZ WOOD, for The Muleskinner—
Four teams from the University of Central Missouri’s Fighting Mules Battalion competed in the 19th annual ROTC Ranger Buddy Competition hosted at the University of Kansas April 20.
ROTC cadets participated in teams of two in separate divisions: men, women and co-ed. Three male teams and one female team competed for UCM.
The teams competed against 183 teams from 38 other schools to win the title of Ranger Buddy Champion.
The competition began with a 12-mile ruck march to determine which participants would qualify for the rest of the day’s events, a series of six courses that would test participants physically and mentally.
These lanes incorporated Maj. Robert Rogers’ original rules of warfare to create various obstacles. Teams were timed as they competed in tasks ranging from assembling a bunker, caring for a casualty and throwing tomahawks.
“You really do a lot that you don’t learn in the classroom,” Tia Smith said. “There’s always something challenging about these events.”
This year’s event was Smith’s second year of competing in the Ranger Buddy Competition. She competed alongside Jesslyn Clark in the female division. The two finished fifth against 17 other teams.
“This year was my first time competing and my first time learning what was needed for any of this,” Clark said. “I’m definitely going to do it again and try to do better knowing what to expect.”
A male team from UCM also made it to the qualifying rounds. Cadets Robert Smith and Ian Powers competed against more than 120 other teams in the male division and placed in the top 50 percent.
“It’s really challenging,” Smith said. “But at the same time, it helps you build a sense of camaraderie with your partner.”
UCM’s cadets had been training for the competition since returning from winter break with Lt. Col. Dan Cureton, Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Casarez Jr., and their cadet captains Ethan Klausner and Travis Thompson.
UCM’s other male teams supported their fellow cadets after they participated in the ruck march.
“We really are a team, all of us,” Walter Thompson said. “All of it was a great experience. I definitely look forward to training harder for next year’s Ranger Buddy and competing to a much higher standard.”
UCM’s ROTC will be competing as a team in the Ranger Challenge held at Ft. Leonard Wood in October this year.