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UNG wins Ranger Challenge to earn return to Sandhurst

Ranger Challenge 2018 trophy
UNG won the Spartan Ranger Challenge for the second year in a row. The event was held Oct. 25-27 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Ranger Challenge Team is headed back to the Sandhurst International Military Skills Competition for the third time in five years.

A victory in the Spartan Ranger Challenge secured UNG's spot in the Sandhurst event set for April at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

UNG was the best among 18 teams from the nation's junior and senior military colleges in the competition hosted by the 1st Brigade of United States Cadet Command from Oct. 25-27 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The team is quickly turning its attention to Sandhurst, where it finished fourth overall out of 64 teams, was the top ROTC team and finished ahead of all 36 West Point teams in April 2018.

"You're building a legacy of discipline, dedication and excellence," said. Col. Joshua D. Wright, professor of military science, at the on-campus trophy presentation Oct. 30. "Everything I've heard since I got here in July was that everyone was gunning for us. And no one was even close."

Retired Col. James T. Palmer, commandant of UNG's Corps of Cadets, is eager to see how the team fares at Sandhurst and expressed appreciation for their hard training.

"You embrace it early in the morning when most UNG students aren't even awake," Palmer said.

Cadet Capt. John Bordeaux, a senior criminal justice major from Huntsville, Alabama, is in his fourth year as part of UNG's Ranger Challenge Team. He was captain for UNG's whole group and its winning team, as UNG sent two 11-cadet teams to Fort Knox.

"The one thing that has made this team so effective is the fact that they can walk up on a situation and as a single unit can master whatever is there," Bordeaux said. "They can calmly adapt, overcome and just be overall proficient, calm, cool, and collected and execute whatever is thrown at them."

Cadet Walker Dunlap, a senior criminal justice major from Acworth, Georgia, was impressed with the way the group performed at Fort Knox. He was a team leader for UNG's winning team.

"We knew what we were. We were confident in what we could do," Dunlap said. "So we went in and just took charge in everything we did."

Army Maj. Donovan Duke, an instructor in the Department of Military Science at UNG and coach for Ranger Challenge, thanked the university, the Corps, the 5th Ranger Training Battalion, and the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office for their support. Duke said the 2018 effort at Sandhurst showed the strength of ROTC.

"Hopefully we go in April and do even better than we did last year," Duke said.

Bordeaux certainly feels like it's possible.

"Now that we know what's coming, with a little bit of extra training, I feel like we can come out on top," Bordeaux said. "It's a great feeling. I feel like the whole team is motivated."

Cadets who competed at Fort Knox for UNG were: John Belser, Ava Bergeron, Christopher Bissett, Bordeaux, Megan Collins, Dunlap, Hayley Farmer, Isaiah Fleck, Jacob Gavilanez, Gabriel Liranzo, Thomas Little, Tristan Moran, Zachary Navara, Nicholas Nesbitt, William Norman, Brandon Robinson, Zachary Rodriguez, Paul Rose; Jericho Searcy, Daniel Shearer, Eva Sykes, Brandon Thurmond, Madeline Tipton, Derek Whitmore, and Garrett Wilson.

UNG is designated as the Military College of Georgia and is one of six senior military colleges in the nation.

Ranger Challenge group
UNG's Ranger Challenge Team poses for a photo with Col. Joshua D. Wright, the professor of military science.

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