Cadets finish 8th at Sandhurst 2009

Cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., compete in Sandhurst 2009 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The cadet Sandhurst team finished eighth of 48 teams. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., compete in Sandhurst 2009 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The cadet Sandhurst team finished eighth of 48 teams. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The 2009 Air Force Academy Sandhurst Team finished eighth among 48 U.S. and international collegiate teams last month at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The team made a strong showing with good leadership and unity. RMC, the Canadian Academy, took the trophy back from the Brits this year, with BYU on their tail. The Brits took 3rd and 5th, with Echo Company from the 4th Brigade in between. Two other West Point companies were in 6th and 7th.

The Academy team was led by Cadets 1st Class Andrew Musser of CS-17 and Kedem Alon of CS-34. The competition has been held yearly at West Point since it started in 1967 when the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst of Great Britain presented West Point with a British officer's sword. 

The intent behind the sword was to provide the corps of cadets with challenging and rewarding regimental skills competition, which enhanced professional development and military excellence in selected solider fields. The winning team takes the sword home and claims the title of world champion. 

Some teams competing this year included: 

-- Royal Military Academy England 
-- Royal Military Academy Canada 
-- National Military Academy of Afghanistan 
-- Chilean Military Academy 
-- 32 West Point Companies 
-- U.S. Air Force Academy 
-- U.S. Naval Academy 
-- USMA Preparatory School 
-- University of Hawaii 
-- Iowa State University 
-- Texas A&M 
-- Georgetown University 
-- Florida Institute of Technology 
-- East Carolina State University 
-- Appalachian State University 
-- Brigham Young University 

The competition tests intense mental and physical endurance along with the team's cohesiveness. Officials in charge include British and American Special Forces members looking to implement a number of scenarios that would challenge a nine-person combat unit in today's military. 

This year's event was a tough one, with much more emphasis on problem solving than last year. 

Some of the challenges the team faced during the roughly 8- to 10-mile competition included land navigation, varied obstacle courses, assault rifle marksmanship, U. S. and foreign weapons assembly, a zodiac boat course, construction and use of a rope bridge, ascending a 12- to 15- foot wall in 45 seconds, gear inspections, leadership reaction courses, commandant's challenge and a memory scenario. 

The team was on foot for the entire competition and had to maintain a maximum 50-meter distance from team lead to last member at all times. Failure to follow the rules of the competition, along with missed targets in the marksmanship portion, resulted in time penalties. The team with the fastest time took the sword home. 

This year's top finisher was Royal Military Academy Canada. The U.S. Air Force Academy's best finish in the event was third place in 2008. 

Competitors for the 2009 event were Cadets 1st Class Jack Ambridge, Andrew Musser and Benjamin Otte, Cadets 2nd Class Blake Duffy, Richard Kabanuck and Matthew Roland, Cadets 3rd Class Christopher Goetz and Elizabeth Levri, and Cadet 4th Class Calvin Woodard.

Several cadets traveled with the competitors, trained as backup and provided support during the week of training at West Point were Cadets 1st Class Kedern Alon and Frederick Tarantino, Cadets 2nd Class Michele Ernst and Alec Schwarz, and Cadet 4th Class Bryan Maynard.

Also on the 2009 team were Cadets 1st Class Edward Foulon, Andrew Hendel and Jacqueline Lynch, Cadets 2nd Class David Greer and Dominick Totino, Cadet 3rd Class Anthony Langdon and Cadet 4th Class William Friedl.