By Katie Ronske
Cadets Joe McGrew and Grant Perry are a big reason why Ohio University's "Bobcat battalion" enjoys such a top reputation, according to their instructor Sergeant First Class (SFC) Denis Stewart.
The two freshmen from Ohio University's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) recently finished first out of 20 teams at this year's 7th Brigade Best Ranger Challenge at Xavier University.
"McGrew and Perry displayed the highest level of intestinal fortitude I've ever seen out of freshman cadets. These guys aren't supposed to be this good... yet," Stewart said. "I'm absolutely impressed and proud of what these two young men did here today."
McGrew and Perry competed against cadets from every ROTC program in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan. During the challenge, they participated in eight events, finishing with a 10K ruck/run that required carrying 35-pound rucksacks and full battle equipment during the 6.2-mile course.
"I think, because we were just freshmen, the competition simply took us for granted," said McGrew, a civil engineering major. "We always knew we could win -- never any doubt in our minds."
In addition to McGrew and Perry, Ohio University was represented by two other teams at this year's competition. Duo Chase Rahm and Phil Hale placed fifth, and the team of cadets Matthew Huff and Alex Sayre finished 10th overall.
The Bobcat battalion has consistently placed in the top half of the competition in the last several years, thanks to rigorous training and top-notch instruction.
"The instructors set a pretty high bar high for us -- much higher than at other ROTC schools," said Perry, who's pursuing a sociology degree. "So we know going in to an event like this that we're that good, it's just up to us to prove it to the rest of the country."