Nease Navy JROTC’s varsity drill team finished in first place at the Terry Parker Drill Meet Dec. 10 in Jacksonville, extending its winning streak in Navy Northern Florida drill championships to eight over the past four years.
“We brought in seven alternates to fill in for this meet, as many seniors were taking the ACTs,” said cadet Jesse Gatewood, who was the winner of the individual knockout drill medal. “But taking a page from the New England Patriots’ ‘next man up’ philosophy, we barely missed a beat.”
In addition to claiming the top overall trophy, Nease picked up first place trophies for personnel inspection, academics, athletics, armed exhibition drill, pushups and sit-ups. Several Nease cadets received individual medals during the competition. Cadets Erin Sass, Lilly Short, Krista Ecker, Teagan Pettit, Ian Kleiber, Jacob Hunt, Brian Swicegood, Christopher Oliver, Jesse Gatewood and Lucas Pels received individual medals in athletics. Cadets Dane Barber, Scott Cummings and Eduardo Evans received medals for academics.
“I’ve been doing this a long time – 13 years,” said Nease’s Naval Science instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Duane Hanson. “These young men and women always seem to step up to the challenge.”
Other top schools in the competition were Mandarin High School in second place, Cross Creek High School in third place, Orange Park High School in fourth place and Fleming Island High School in fifth place.
Nease won the Mandarin NJROTC Drill Meet earlier this fall. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, Nease swept both the Mandarin and Terry Parker Drill Meet Championships, beating out 11 other NJROTC challengers from North Florida and the state of Georgia in each competition.
With its earlier victory at Mandarin, Nease has already secured a spot in the 16-team Navy Area 12 Drill Championships to be held March 4 in Georgia. Before the championship, the team will travel to Tallahassee next month to compete at the Florida A&M University NJROTC Drill Meet.
Nease is currently the No. 1 NJROTC unit in Area 12 and has been for five consecutive years. In 2015, Nease was the No. 1 JROTC program in the nation.