A group of Lehigh cadets from the Steel Battalion Army ROTC recently won this year’s Ranger Challenge at Fort Dix, NJ, and will matriculate to West Point’s National Sandhurst Competition on April 17 and 18.
“As defending champions, I am extremely proud of the grit, teamwork, and leadership our Cadets displayed throughout this pandemic to eventually clinch the trophy, personifying our spirit of ‘Fight to Train’ this past year,” said Lieutenant Colonel John R. Abella, department chair and professor of military science and leadership.
Every year the Steel Battalion establishes a Ranger Challenge team that advances through competition; this year’s team includes a total of 14 cadets, 10 from Lehigh, two from Lafayette College, and two from Moravian College, who will compete in a series of 16 grueling challenges that test their skills to shoot, move, communicate, medicate, and lead. The culminating event, the “Crucible,” will be the final test of agility and physical and mental toughness, according to the competition’s description.
The team is led by Lehigh senior Cadet Lucas King, a double major in architecture and engineering, and first sergeant Cadet Ari Ehrenfeucht, a sophomore and member of the Lehigh Track and Field team.
This is the Steel Battalion’s third bid. In 2019 the team placed No. 39 in its first appearance and qualified for the 2020 competition, which was canceled because of COVID.
The top 16 ROTC programs will compete this year in a field of 44 teams representing all the service academies, said Abella.
“I believe this brings credit upon Lehigh and our surrounding colleges [Lafayette College and Moravian College], the strength of our program, and our outstanding Cadets…” he said. “This leadership development opportunity has been priceless for our Cadets on their journey to commission as future Army Officers.”