Riverside Preparatory Academy

Riverside Raiders Bring Home National Championships

Natalae La Douceur
Riverside Prep’s Raider A Team and B Team brought home the national championship titles at the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) National Raider Challenge. This year, the A team also shattered a record in the rope bridge event with a time of 1:35:06, more than ten seconds faster than the previous record. 
"We pushed our Raiders to their limits, and they never stopped working towards being National Champions," said Head Coach, Sergeant First Class Karif Allen. "I am so proud of the heart our boys showed this year!"
The four-day outdoor event attracted 168 US teams including one team from Saipan, a U.S. territory situated more than 7,000 miles from the competition site in Molena, Georgia. Entrants included all-male, all-female, and coed teams. Since first competing at this event in 2010, Riverside has placed first a total of 13 times, including seven wins for their A team and six for their B team.   
"This past weekend was a dream come true. We walked in with high expectations and walked out with eleven trophies,” said A Team Captain, Alex Pombo.
He continued, “More than the awards and the recognition, we enjoyed the experience of living in the woods with no cell service and relying on wood-burning fires to keep warm. The camaraderie is like nothing anyone could ever experience elsewhere, and the coaches mean more to us than they could imagine." 
In addition to three days of team competition, Colin Tortorelli competed for the title of Ultimate Raider finishing fourth out of 44 individual competitors. He said, "Running the 1.7 miles while carrying a 45-pound rucksack was the hardest I ever pushed myself.”
B Team Captain Caleb Baker said, "Being a National Champion means more than words can express. We have worked for this since July 26th and have not let up. We practiced hard five days a week and attended meets most weekends. Raiders became our life, and seeing our work payoff is amazing – not to mention how tight we became as a team."
The Raider program is the fastest growing sport among high schools with a JROTC program. Established in 1916, JROTC teaches citizenship, leadership, character development, and community service to high school students.
Twenty years ago, Sgt. Ed Fincher imagined a high school competition mirroring the Best Ranger Competition, sponsored by the Army. Fincher called it Raiders and knew the potential impact on the JROTC high school program. 
"Events like National Raider allow JROTC programs to demonstrate the positive benefits it brings to all high school students in creating unique opportunities for involvement and leadership," said Ms. Sarah Windmueller, a Public Affairs Specialist for U.S. Army Cadet Command.
Results: Riverside's B team placed 1st in Rope Bridge (1:46.59), 1st in Gauntlet (5:27.44), 3rd in the 4K Mountain Run (16:08.16), and 2nd Physical Team Test (PTT) (3:02.65). In Saturday's Masters Competition, Riverside's A team placed 1st in Rope Bridge (1:35.06), a national record, 1st in Gauntlet (5:47.44), 3rd in Cross Country Rescue (CCR) (8:56.31), 3rd in the 5K Mountain Run (19:21.72) and 1st in PTT (2:53.97).