By Joshua Nysenbaum
Student, Rochester Institute of Technology
On April 6th, the NROTC Rochester unit traveled to Villanova University to compete in its annual drill and military excellence competition. The competition is separated into three sections; drill (marching), athletics, and combat skills. Competition was fierce with fifteen extremely talented schools competing, including notables like the United States Naval Academy and Penn State University. While NROTC Rochester usually fares very well at this competition, this year exceeded all expectations with an overall point accumulation higher than anything in recent history. Rochester took 1st place overall in drill, 2nd place overall in athletics, and 3rd place overall in combat skills.
In the drill competition, Rochester took 1st in Color Guard, led by junior David Delong (UR). Rochester also took 1st in Squad Basic, led by the Battalion Commander, senior Erik Smolinski (RIT). Rochester placed 2nd in the two-man Trick Drill competition, 3rd in Platoon Trick, and 3rd in the Platoon Basic competition. The Platoon Basic team was comprised of exclusively freshmen and had members from all of the NROTC Rochester affiliate schools: University of Rochester, RIT, St. John Fisher, and SUNY Brockport. Each team practiced relentlessly throughout the academic year and their efforts paid off; the results were fantastic.
In the athletics portion, Rochester placed 1st with a dominating performance in the 4×400 relay. Team members for this event were junior Conor Kelley (RIT), sophomore Mackenzie Gage (UR), freshman Grant Salk (RIT), and senior Olakunle Akinpelu (RIT). The Distance Medley Relay also placed 1st with the dream team of David Delong, Grant Salk, junior Daniel Palmiter (RIT), and freshman Andrew Kline (RIT). In addition, Rochester took 3rd in the 4×100 IM swim relay with team members junior Joshua Nysenbaum (RIT), freshman Luke White (RIT), freshman Giorgi Bekauri (UR), and one of Rochester’s Midnight Ramblers, sophomore Joe Thibodeau.
NROTC Rochester participated in only three events of the combat skills section, but made those appearances count. In the crossfit challenge, Rochester took both 2nd and 3rd place. Team 1 had senior Edmond Bouillanne (UR) with sophomore Alexander Dudek (UR) and Team 2 had Conor Kelley with Olakunle Akinpelu, respectively. In one of the competition’s most difficult events, the recon challenge, the team effort made by senior Marine Option Abe McAndrew (RIT) and junior Navy Seal hopeful Ryan Baptiste (RIT) was rewarded with 2nd place. The recon challenge is an obstacle course which included, among other things, rope climbing, a 5 ½ mile run, and a 500 meter swim, all while wearing a full combat uniform.
The NROTC Rochester Battalion has always excelled in these competitions and continues to produce some of the nation’s best Navy and Marine Corps officers. Despite their already excellent performance, the entire Battalion embraces the concept of Meliora and will continue its effort to be ever better.
In the Photo: Members of the NROTC Rochester freshman class prepare to compete in the Platoon Basic Drill Competition led by RIT sophomore Josh Nysenbaum (back to the camera).