Riverside Prep’s Raider Teams left Gainesville, GA early Thursday, November 2, 2023 to compete in Fort Knox, KY for the U.S. Army JROTC Raider National Championship. This was the first time the competition was hosted at Fort Knox, and more than 250 teams traveled from multiple states, including as far as California and Hawaii, to participate in the one-day All-Service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) Raider Challenge Championships, and the two-day Army JROTC Raider Nationals.
The new location presented a challenge for all participants, but Riverside’s “A” Team and “B” Team exhibited grit and determination. This year’s championship called for exceptional endurance. Coach Karif Allen said, “This was very different from the past Nationals competitions that we have competed in. The terrain was also a big factor. All of the physical events were held in the woodline with various levels of steep hills, staircases, and water obstacles.” Events included a 5K run, physical team test, cross country rescue, gauntlet (obstacle course), and rope bridge construction/crossing.
Riverside’s A Team earned first place in both the rope-bridge (1:34) and gauntlet (8:49) events and second place in the 5K run (27:27). Riverside’s A Team earned third place overall, a mere 5.5 points short of first place winners from Adairsville High School (Adairsville, GA).
Though the team didn’t achieve their goal as this year’s national champions, they persevered and walked away with motivation for next year. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons from competing in the first ever Nationals Championship at Fort Knox. Trust that we have taken notes that we will apply to next year’s training and come back even more determined to dominate in 2024,” Allen said.
Riverside’s Academy Sergeant Major, Chad Blansett, said, “In the scheme of important life lessons, it’s evident that our Raiders were dealt a tough loss, but I have no doubt they will be able to look back upon this moment and understand how important this loss was to them. As a society, understandably we highlight success all the time, but seldom reference all those failures of the past and what it takes to win, to become #1 and become a true champion.”
As Riverside Raiders continue to adapt and overcome challenges, they are sure to continue their success in the coming years. Blansett said, “Our Riverside Raiders will overcome this moment in their young lives and rise to the challenge that will lead to more National Championships down the road, making their future successes that much sweeter.”