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JROTC seeking new obstacles to overcome

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By Stephen Lega

Life involves dealing with obstacles, but the Marion County JROTC students are planning to create a few for themselves.

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Specifically, they are working to construct an obstacle course near the tennis courts at Marion County High School.

Hunter Winsor is a senior on the JROTC's Raider Team. This team participates in competitions that require a mix of land navigation/orienteering skills and physical tests, many of which require teams to work together.

He said the course could provide improved training opportunities for the team members, and he said it could encourage more students to want to be part of the team.

"People could see how much fun it is," Winsor said.

Major Mike Smedley, one of the JROTC instructors, agreed that having a course could benefit the program by increasing participation, but he also said it could boost the self-confidence of the students involved. Students learn about themselves by learning to climb over a six-foot wall, he said.

The course will include a rope bridge, climbing ropes, monkey bars, vaults and pull-up bars.

JROTC students already participate in physical training. During a recent session, they performed a sequence of exercises including standing long jumps, high knee runs, running backwards, and doing push-ups while walking on their hands. At the end, they lined up in six teams and ran a relay race involving walking lunges followed by sprints.

The winning team got to sit. The rest of the teams had to run up and down a flight of stairs. Then, the losing teams got to race again.

Sgt. Philip Chatigny, the other JROTC instructor, said the obstacle course will give the JROTC program more options for its physical training, but he also sees benefits for sports programs and even the community. Coaches have already expressed interest in incorporating the obstacle course into conditioning for their teams, Chatigny said.

They are trying to build the course with as much donated material as possible. Chatigny said they still need to get about 100 feet of fencing, and they are waiting for the ground to dry up so a tractor can get in and help with drilling holes for the fence.

When the course is complete, community members could also take advantage it for exercise, and it could allow the high school to host its own Raider Team competitions, Chatigny said. In fact, he said they would like to host a small competition with five or six teams, possibly later this year.

While Winsor and other seniors might not get to utilize the course before they graduate, he still supports the project.

"We wouldn't see the benefit, but we'd be able to help the program if we get it," he said.