Southern Lee, Lee County compete vs. fellow Junior ROTC teams
In the U.S. Army, there are Rangers; and in high school Junior ROTC, there are Raiders.
A dozen Raider teams from nearby counties competed on a chilly Saturday morning at Lee County High School during the school's annual Tri-Meet, and for the chance to snag a spot in an upcoming multi-state Raiders competition. Other schools also came to compete in drill and rifle matches.
The Raiders competition consisted of five physically challenging events, from physical fitness tests to a litter carry through an obstacle course, a rope bridge, a truck pull and, at the end of everything else, a 5K run.
Raiders teams from both Southern Lee High School and Lee County High School competed, and both teams' leaders said toward the end of the contest that they had a good shot at qualifying.
"We got faster and stronger compared to last year," said Emanuel Francisco, a 17-year-old who leads the Yellow Jackets team.
He said his team's best event Saturday was the obstacle course, and that the truck pull also went well.
However, they did lose to their cross-town rivals in that truck pull — in which the team of eight high schoolers pulls a 10,000-pound vehicle about 30 feet.
Southern Lee did it in 52.69 seconds and Lee County did it in just around 53 seconds, said Cavaliers Raiders team member Norman Guerrero, 17.
"So we were that close," he said. "It comes down to milliseconds."
Guerrero's brother, 18-year-old Kevin, leads Southern Lee's Raiders team. Just after the team finished the rope bridge and then sang happy birthday to fellow team member Jacob Light, who was spending his 17th birthday running and lifting on a cold Saturday morning, Kevin Guerrero said he thought the team had a good shot at qualifying.
"We're doing great," he said. "We're having the best year we've had in a while."
Their rival Yellow Jackets have also been having a good year, finishing second last week in a 25-team tournament in Brunswick County. Along with the Raiders' second-place finish, the Lee County drill team and rifle team both came in first, leading the school to a first overall ranking at the tournament.
Since they were the hosts on Saturday, most of the Yellow Jackets didn't compete, instead running the concessions stand and generally organizing the meet and judging some competitions. They also got help from at least one former JROTC member.
Pfc. Willie Williamson, a mechanic in the Army, said it was a lot of fun being back at his old stomping grounds.
"I graduated two years ago and just got back from a year in Korea," Williamson said. "So I'm on leave, and I wanted to come back and help out."