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Intense training paid off for University of Wisconsin Oshkosh ROTC cadets who took second in a competition that tested them on everything from physical strength and endurance to weapons qualification and knot tying.

Task Force McCoy 2022 Army Ranger Challenge took place between eight teams Oct. 15-16 at Fort McCoy, a military training center in Monroe County. UWO’s Fox Valley Battalion was up against Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs from schools that included UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse, Marquette University and Northern Michigan University.

“We started training the first week of the semester,” said Master Sgt. Dustin Ketterl, who added that besides the ROTC cadets’ usual physical training that takes place Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, additional training was added on Thursdays and Sundays.

Ketterl, an assistant professor of military science and trainer/leader of the Fox Valley Battalion Ranger Challenge Team, joined Fox Valley Battalion in 2021. He said he believes the last time Fox Valley Battalion earned a top finish in the annual competition was in 2016.

UWO cadets who were part of the team placing second were Katie Fruth, a senior nursing major from Union Grove; Christian Hecht, a senior international studies major from Weyauwega; Reed Polgar, a senior philosophy major from Zion, Illinois; and Emily Rivero, a sophomore psychology major from Lake Forest, Illinois. Additionally, cadet Andrew Lopez, a junior from St. Norbert College, completed the team.

Alternate members who trained and were members of a second UWO team were Katlyn Connors, sophomore criminal justice major from Rockton, Illinois; Lydia Cowden, a sophomore pre-nursing student from Mount Horeb; Marco Macias, a sophomore biology major from Oshkosh; and Aaron Petkovsek, a junior criminal justice major from Grafton. Additional members were Nathan Crenshaw from Ripon College and Anton Bruley and Joshua Martin from St. Norbert College.

Tops in three individual events

The cadets knew they were in second place after the first day of competition, but a grueling second day was ahead. It included M4 rifle and M17 pistol qualifications and a weapons re-assembly where the components of three weapons systems were placed in a box. Cadets needed to quickly determine which pieces went with each system and assemble them together.

Of the 11 events overall, Fox Valley Battalion won three individual competitions: knots test, conditioning course and written test.

Other events included tactical combat casualty care, obstacle course, one-rope bridge and call for fire.

A timed 8.5-mile road march took place as cadets hauled ruck sacks that averaged 40 pounds each.

“It was a very proud moment to know we won,” Ketterl said. “It’s important that the University knows what these cadets and the program have done.”

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) helps meet the demand for Army officers. Fox Valley ROTC Battalion, organized under UW Oshkosh, is composed of cadets from UWO, Marian University, UW-Green Bay, Ripon College and St. Norbert College.

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