More than 40 students and staff trekked through mud, climbed walls, flipped tires, dragged sleds, hauled logs, and carried buckets in Hillsdale’s first American Warrior Challenge competition hosted by the U.S. Army on Oct. 17.
A team known as “The Fellowship” won the challenge with a first-place time of 32 minutes, earning them a steak dinner courtesy of the dean of men’s office. The team of juniors included Aidan Johnston, Clay Ward, Lewis Degoffau, and Noah Parker.
The primary purpose of the challenge was to “do what warriors do by getting down and dirty,” Associate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers said.
Second place went to “Chesty’s Angels,” a team of Marine candidates, while “The Gentlemen Squad,” a team of staff members, came in third.
“We want to provide students with opportunities outside of class that have a competitive element,” Rogers said. “So we thought, why not pit some teams against each other and see what happens in a series of physically intensive challenges?”
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Erik Newton said the Army worked closely with the dean of men and the Student Activities Office.
“We began planning this event back in May with the proposal of the race and it slowly developed as we gaged student interest with the dean of men and Student Activities Office,” Newton said. “We started logistically planning this event in September. This is the only college where we have organized this type of race.”
Newton said the physical challenges were similar to basic training for the Army.
“As far as the physical portion of the race it is very similar to training,” Newton said. “Working as a team is huge, but also pushing yourself physically beyond the point of what you thought you can do is a huge part as well. We are looking for people’s participation and people pushing themselves to the point of physical exhaustion.”
Before the event began, several teams buzzed with excitement.
“I have long considered myself a warrior of sorts,” said senior Zach Miles, a member of the “Galloway Athletic Youth Squad.”
Team members from “Chesty’s Angels” said they noticed the event was hosted by the Army and thought it needed some Marines.
“When we heard about the American Warrior Challenge, we thought this should have some marines in it,” said senior Spencer Woodford, a member of “Chesty’s Angels.” “More than anything we are looking forward to the mud. We are going to take on this challenge together.”
Junior Aidan Johnston of “The Fellowship” dressed like Frodo Baggins from Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings.” He said he was afraid of staining his white shirt in the mud.
The race pushed many to the point of physical exhaustion, freshman David Ard said. Ard said the log carry was by far the most difficult challenge on the course.
“I think the log carry is what slowed us down the most,” Ard said. “I thought I was ready for it, but you have to carry that thing more than a quarter of a mile.”
At the end of the race, many participants said they were happy they completed the challenge.
“We loved the course,” senior Grant Boyes, a member of “Chesty’s Angels,” said. “For the Army putting this on it was pretty tough. This was our last chance to all suffer together before we graduate. We loved the mud and we loved the challenge.”
Junior Noah Parker said “The Fellowship” was excited after finding out they won first place.
“I’m super excited for our steak dinner with the deans.” Parker said. “That will be a substantial reward for the physical challenge we endured. It was semi-satisfying to see Chief’s perplexity when we beat all the other teams.”