Nease NJROTC cadets roll to second drill championship

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The Navy’s JROTC drill program at Nease High School continued its winning ways, traveling to North Georgia and capturing the Stockbridge Drill Meet overall championship against 10 other Georgia schools on Feb. 6.

The team had never previously competed at the competition hosted by Stockbridge NJROTC. However, with several meets being canceled across the state, the team seized the opportunity to travel north in search of a drill competition when a last-minute cancellation created an opening.

“We’ll compete anytime, anywhere,” said battalion commander Brandon Donovan. “Stockbridge hosted a fantastic meet … I’m sure we’ll be back there again next year if possible.”

Nease’s drill team needed to bring up several cadets from the practice squad as five cadets fell victim to COVID-19 contact tracing quarantining less than 24 hours before departure.

Cadets Benjamin Rider and Diego Molina joined the armed exhibition and basic drill teams; and cadets Lauren Villareal, Hailey Pitches and Rylie Larkin filled in for the unarmed exhibition team. Both exhibition teams require memorizing and learning hundreds of intricate and precise drill movements.

“I am so proud of the cadets,” said naval science instructor Gunnery Sergeant Duane Hanson. “We practiced until nearly midnight in an empty parking lot Friday night polishing up the routines.”

Armed exhibition placed first and unarmed exhibition placed second in the competition. Nease took home first place in nine of the 12 events, including drill overall, unarmed basic, color guard, athletics overall, pushups, sit-ups, 16x100 relay, and personnel inspection.

Cadets Isabella Rivera and Amber Vidler placed first individually in female sit-ups (312) and push-ups (90), while Brady Anderson and Brodie Mongon placed second in male sit-ups (190) and push-ups (85).  Cadet Ben Prohofsky placed second in academics.

The team got to tour Valdosta State University Air Force ROTC on route to Stockbridge.

“I’ve been thinking all along of a Coast Guard or Navy career path, but that was a really impressive program we saw at Valdosta State,” said cadet Daniel Mahoney.

Nease is currently the No. 1 ranked NJROTC drill team in Area-12 (59 programs covering northern Florida and the state of Georgia), having won the Area-12 Drill Championship each of the past six years. 

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