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Competing to be the best

Washington Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition 2019

The Washington National Guard’s Best Warrior Competition participants complete a six-mile ruck march. The competitors had over 50 pounds of gear with them during the march and a short time limit. Photo credit: Sara Morris

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Across the entire Army, the Best Warrior Competition recognizes soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army values, embody the warrior ethos and represent the force of the future.

Warriors competing for the title, "Soldier of the Year," include the ranks of private through specialist. Warriors competing for the title, "Non-commissioned Officer of the Year," include ranks corporal through sergeant first class.

This year, two NCO competitors and three junior enlisted competitors showed what it really meant to be a warrior in the Washington National Guard.

"The Best Warrior Competition is not only a chance for the soldiers to show off their warrior tasks but to build an esprit de corps with their fellow guardsmen," said Command Sgt. Major Eric Honeycutt, the Washington Army National Guard state sergeant major.

The competition was held over a very physically demanding day. Soldiers tested their physical and mental agility as they tackled a wide range of events. Competitors raced against the clock and each other throughout the day's mentally and physically demanding events.

Competition started early Aug. 3 with the Army Combat Fitness Test, where the soldiers were challenged with performing all six events, some doing them for the first time. After which the competitors headed off to change and prepare for a board and essay portion.

"The board was a very humbling experience for me," said Spc. Logan Owings, a combat medic with MEDCOM. "I really appreciated the members taking their time afterwards to explain how I could do better, what I need to work on."

In the afternoon, the competition moved to the more physical tasks. Soldiers completed a stress shoot, weapons assembly, six-mile ruck march with approximately 50 pounds of gear and a land navigation course. These physical events were the favorites among the competitors.

"I liked the ruck, not because I enjoyed it, but because I rarely get to push myself as hard as I did with the ruck," said Spc. Andrew Donley-Russell, a crew chief with 1st Battalion, 168 General Support Aviation. "It was difficult, but I don't have a recent memory of when I was that taxed. Maybe I've never been that taxed before but it was a great opportunity to learn my limits."

Donley-Russell and Sgt. Jordan Ralph, a human intelligence collector with Delta Company, 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion, were the eventual winners of the Best Warrior Competition.

"I really wanted to compete to show that military intelligence soldiers are not just desk jockeys," said Ralph. "I love to volunteer for challenges, especially physical ones, to show that the MI community does more than sit at a computer."

Other competitors included Staff Sgt. Tobias Suhr, a dental hygienist from MEDCOM and Spc. Stephanie Menorca, a human resources specialist from the 420th Chemical Battalion. The five personnel were proud of themselves at the end of the competition.

"I think that everyone out here, we all volunteered to do this," said Suhr. "It resonated with something that I was told on my first deployment, which was that we showed up when nobody else would. That motivates me."

Menorca added, "I wanted to come out here and do something new and different, to challenge myself. That's what I did, and overall I had a good time so that is a success."

After all the events were over and the group received a hot meal, the scores were tallied and the winners announced. The overall takeaway from the weekend being that these five guardsmen showed up and took on the challenge.

"There have to be winners of this competition, but we are one team," said Honeycutt.

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