Turning up the intensity

Turning up the intensity

Shawn Eggert

A team of Coast Guard Academy cadets traveled seven miles of obstacles and wet, muddy forest trails April 30 during the U.S. Military Academy’s Sandhurst competition at West Point.

The cadets began their trek at 7:10 a.m. as a light rain began to fall over the thickly wooded hills. They had three hours to complete the course that included rifle and grenade ranges, medical, gas mask, and communications stations, and a 12-foot wall.

“The 2005 Sandhurst Competition was the toughest one yet,” said Second Class Cadet Phillip Baxa. “This was my third competition and they seem to get more challenging every year. But the Coast Guard Academy never ceases to impress the heck out of everyone.”

The squad excelled at the nautical trials where they earned a perfect score in the boat launching and performed well while crossing a river with a one-rope bridge. From the river, the cadets began an uphill crawl through a large drainage pipe that ran beneath the 9 west Highway. Speed and determination then helped the team pass up the squad from the Virginia Military Institute on their way to the final obstacle on the course.

The competition required the weary competitors to carry a set of heavy weapons and three “injured” soldiers around a 100-yard circuit path before making the final run to the finish line.

“The team worked extremely hard to prepare for this competition,” said First Class Cadet Gordon Hood, the team’s squad leader. “Everyone had an incredible amount of enthusiasm, and despite the challenges, had a great deal of fun throughout the event. Participating in Sandhurst has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of being here at CGA over the past four years because of the enthusiasm, teamwork, and camaraderie developed in the months of training.”

After finishing the course in two hours and 39 minutes, the Coast Guard did not place, but that did not matter to the team or the group of Academy staff, other cadets and family who cheered them on along the course.

The 2005 Sandhurst competition was won by the Canadian Royal Military Academy.

“Sandhurst isn’t about some trophy or award,” said Baxa. “Its about the person next to you and completing a crucible that most people couldn’t. It’s about turning up the intensity during a tough situation, and being able to tone it down and enjoy life when it’s all over.”

Story and photo by PA2 Shawn Eggert, CGA

COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S. Coast Guard

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group