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Radford Cadets Take on Sandhurst Competition

By Laura Brown
November 4, 2010

Ryan Thursby and a group of Radford University ROTC cadets are up before the sun and enduring grueling workouts while many students are still warm in their beds.

They've been training for a competition that will test both their mental and physical strength and push them farther than they’ve ever gone before.

This weekend 11 Army ROTC cadets will travel over 17 rough miles through the mountains near Fort Knox, Ky., to participate in challenging events along the way. The time has come for the annual Sandhurst ROTC competition that will take place Nov. 5-7.

Thursby, a team captain along with Black McClary, has been shaping his team since September for this event. Training takes place every day starting at 6 a.m. and consists of cardio, weight lifting, calisthenics and long runs.

“We train long distance in full [combat uniform] and boots,” said the muscular senior with hair in a high-and-tight, military-style cut. “It’s harder that way, but it requires a certain technique to maintain that endurance and if you’re not used to it, it will kill you.”

The competition takes place over three days where the teams must navigate through 12 timed events with penalties added on for mistakes. Junior Carolyn Tucker is a second year returner to Radford’s Sandhurst team. “I have learned so much about everything from weapons to rope bridges,” she explained.

A stress shooting event challenges the cadets’ accuracy after they complete a series of strenuous exercises. The boat operations event tests the cadets’ upper body endurance and teamwork. The rope bridge tests not only the teams’ strength but speed as they must traverse a gorge as quickly as possible using only one long rope, a carabineer and an individual self-made harness. The weapon assembly event tests the cadets’ speed and knowledge of the weapon.

“Although it’s miserable, it’s also really fun,” Tucker said. “It’s a great confidence builder.”

Last year, Radford placed fourth overall out of 10 teams. Other schools that participated included senior military colleges such as Norwich, The Citadel, VMI and Texas A&M. “Radford University was the only non-senior military college there so it really says a lot that we did so well,” said Thursby.

As months of training come down to one tough weekend, Thursby expressed great confidence in his team: “I feel like we have a good team this year, young, but a good one. We are definitely capable of doing all the things we have set out to do as far as the objectives.”

It is going to be a very long weekend for this young team, he said. “As far as the endurance goes, that is going to be our biggest challenge.”