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Statesboro JROTC team takes pair of state titles
The seniors of the Statesboro High JROTC Raider team pose with their trophies following the state championships held at Griffin last weekend. - photo by All photos special to the Herald

After four long months of rigorous training and competitions, the Statesboro High School JROTC Raider team traveled to Griffin to compete at The U.S. Army Georgia State Raider Championship meet. In all, 72 of the top teams from 44 schools were placed into three tiers based on the number of cadets in each program.

Statesboro swept their Region Championships by placing first overall in all three categories (co-ed, male, and female) giving the Blue Devils the right to compete against twenty-two other well trained JROTC Programs from the mid-sized tier two class. Overcoming all obstacles including the North Georgia terrain, 50-degree weather, wind and rain, the Devils persevered to bring home a school record breaking six trophies including two state titles.

Each Raider team, Male, Female, and Mixed (co-ed) consists of 12 team members, 10 of which must compete in and finish each event. All raiders practice and compete in five strenuous events that test the physical and mental abilities of these young athletes. All events are timed and judged to military standards. The first of the five events is always the 5K team run, followed by the 50 meter team tire flip that consists of three lifters and two stabilizers, a cross country rescue obstacle course where the team must carry a litter and four rucksacks for a mile or more, a fitness test, and one rope bridge designed to simulate crossing a river.

The mixed team led by seniors Jermaine Gray, Skylar Williams, Gavin Nelson, and Sophie Ingram, earned the most awards with three 2nd place finishes in the Team Tire Flip, Cross Country Rescue, and the Raider Fitness Course. The competition was so tight that they only missed first place in the tire flip by one second and in the fitness course by 23 seconds.

The male squad led by Seniors Ramone Harris, Nick Brannon, Sean Gilleland, Raymond Chen, and Brian Phillips placed 2nd in the Rope Bridge with a time of 1 minute and 57 seconds and won the State Championship in the Team Tire Flip. With a 2 minute 20 second time, the female squad led by senior Sameriya Johnson and Sophomore Drew Huthsteiner won the State title in the Team Tire Flip for the third year in a row.

Happy with the results of their final competition, one of the senior male captains Nick Brannon said “We came with a goal in hand and trophies replaced it as we left.” As a last parting word of advice senior female captain Sameriya Johnson said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do, if you haven't found it yet keep looking. Don't settle!” The raider team commander, Jermaine Gray says “I started from the bottom of the team on JV but worked my way to the top. I have faith that next year’s leaders can take the team above and beyond.”