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Ranger Challenge headed to West Point for Sandhurst competition

When Cadet Capt. Addyson Albershardt takes the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Ranger Challenge team to the Sandhurst International Military Skills Competition at West Point in April, it will mark the second time she accompanied a UNG team to the prestigious event.

Ranger Challenge 1
UNG's Ranger Challenge team, led by Cadet Capt. Addyson Albershardt, participates in the road march portion of the recent Spartan Ranger Challenge competition at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The difference this time is that not only will she get to participate instead of sitting on the sidelines as an alternate in 2015, but she's the team's commanding officer.

"I'm so grateful for the support that we've received from the university and the amount of the resources that the university gave us this semester. All of the cadre and staff — everyone wanted us to win, and when you have 20 cadre behind you and wanting you to win, it's just incomparable," Albershardt said. "We're going to continue to need everyone's support to do our best at Sandhurst. We'll go in there and represent the state of Georgia well and just do our best."

UNG's Ranger Challenge team advances to Sandhurst after winning the Spartan Ranger Challenge hosted by U.S. Army Cadet Command on Oct. 26-29 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. UNG bested 18 teams with 198 total Cadets from the nation's junior and senior military colleges.

Since its inception in 1967, Great Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst has dominated the event; only two American teams have won the competition since 1994 and an ROTC team has never won. While the Sandhurst competition isn't until April 13-14, a lot of training must be done between now and then, Albershardt said.

"The training for Sandhurst is going to be more based in critical thinking and having to think a lot when you're exhausted," the Matthews, North Carolina, native said. "You don't know what's going to be asked of you and you're just exhausted the whole time. It's all about being able to adapt and perform when you're in a constantly stressful environment."

To be successful in Ranger Challenge, Cadets must have the attributes and skills the U.S. Army seeks in its 21st century leaders, said Army Maj. Donovan Duke, an instructor in the Department of Military Science at UNG and Coach for Ranger Challenge.

"Cadet Command and the U.S. Army uses the 21st century leader attributes of character, presence and intellect and competencies to lead, develop and achieve to guide our methods and approaches for leader development for all Cadets. Ranger Challenge is no different, except some of those attributes and competencies are tested at a much higher level," he said. "Additionally, a good Ranger Challenge leader must be able to create an environment where every Cadet feels that he or she is a significant and critical part of the team. The leader must motivate each team member to take ownership in the team goals."

Albershardt, who plans to graduate with a degree in kinesiology and commission in May, agreed her experience leading the platoon-sized Ranger Challenge team is good practice for becoming a second lieutenant next year.

"I've learned to trust my noncommissioned officers, which is what everyone talks about as a leader. I've learned how to plan, how to own up to my mistakes and learn for the next time," she said. "It was a perfect opportunity to learn how to be prepared for my future career in the Army."

In addition to claiming the Spartan Ranger Challenge trophy, Albershardt was recognized for recording the top physical fitness score among female Cadets; her scores included 119 push-ups, 96 sit-ups, 10 pull-ups and completing the 5-mile run in 37 minutes. Zachary Navara was recognized for completing the most sit-ups among male Cadets with 118. UNG's Ranger Challenge team also won several individual events: one-rope bridge construction; land navigation and confidence course.

Members of UNG's Ranger Challenge team include: Addy Albershardt (Black Team commander), John Bordeaux (Black Team noncommissioned officer (NCO) in charge), Michael Lockwood, Jean Phillipe Rossy, Walker Dunlap, Christopher Bissett, Zachary Navara, Alexei Joya, Derek Whitmore, and alternates Nina Carter and Tristan Moran. Members of UNG's second Ranger Challenge team include: Evan Myers (Gold Team commander), Tyler Chasteen (Gold Team NCO in charge), Joshua Wheatley, Nicholas Nesbitt, Tipton Madeline, Zachary Rodriguez, Justin Massey, Jacob Gavilanez, and alternates Megan Collins and Gabriel Liranzo. The support team consists of Moriah Edwards (Support commander), Michael Laun, Garrett Wilson, Cameron Heriot, and Eva Sykes.

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