Staff Sgt. Joel Pena
10th Mountain Division Journalist
Twenty-six two-man teams from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum met last week in the cantonment area on post to compete in this year’s Mountain Spring Challenge.
The Mountain Spring Challenge is the first in a series of four seasonal events the division conducts to test the military skills and physical fitness of Soldiers in a competitive atmosphere that promotes tactical excellence and esprit de corps in units throughout the year.
The two-day event began May 8 and challenged the physical prow-ess of teams composed of a platoon leader and platoon sergeant from across the division over a course of six events that tested their military skills, physical fitness and mental fortitude.
“This event is great for promoting teamwork,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Munger, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, and Mountain Spring Challenge noncommissioned officer in charge. “Yesterday went really well. We started at 8 a.m., and so far, everybody has had really good comments about how well organized and how well the event is being run. I couldn’t be happier.”
The first team arrived at 7:30 a.m. to weigh in their ruck sacks. Ruck sacks must weigh 45 pounds “dry,” and each team must have at least four quarts of water.
The competition kicked off with the Mountain Athlete Warrior assessment during which teams performed agility tasks, pull-ups, heel claps and other tests, in accordance with Ranger Athlete Warrior standards.
Immediately after the first event, teams hustled to put on their ruck sacks and march 2.2 miles to the stress shoot station.
“My job here is to raise their heart rate before they go into the range to shoot,” said Sgt. Noah Merritt, 1-89 Cavalry, stress shoot supervisor. “Each team will drag a skid with 250 pounds for 100 meters, then turn around and come back to pick up two 45-pound weights simulating two water cans and run the course again.
“After that, they’ll run into the range, where they have to fire 40 rounds into a target: 10 rounds from the prone unsupported position, 10 from the sitting position, 10 from the kneeling position and 10 from the standing position,” Merritt continued. “The number of points they get is determined by how many rounds hit the inside of the black silhouette of the 300-meter target.”
After the stress shoot event, teams marched 3.4 miles to the next station, where they completed an urban obstacle course. After that, they got a 10-minute rest before tackling their next event: the two-mile buddy run.
Their penultimate event was an obstacle course.
It was followed by a mystery event, which was a 40-foot rock wall that competitors were required to scale as a team.
At the conclusion of the second day, all teams had successfully completed the Mountain Spring Challenge.
On Friday, all teams were recognized during a ceremony at Magrath Gym.
Col. Mark J. O’Neil, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commander for operations, thanked all of the participants and presented awards to the top three teams.
O’Neil presented the Mountain Spring Challenge Trophy, Army Achievement Medals and 10th Mountain Division coins to 1st Lt. John F. Bassette Jr. and Staff Sgt. Marcus R. Love, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Bri-gade Combat Team, who won first place.
The team of 1st Lt. James K. Han and Sgt. Fransisco X. Soto from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, claimed second place and received certificates of achievement.
First Lt. John D. Steger and Sgt. 1st Class Vernon N. Kenworthy from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, also received certificates of achievement for finishing third.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, each team posed for a group photo with O’Neil.
“We always try to be in shape,” Bassette said. “The desire to win kept us motivated; we don’t like to lose.”