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MHS JROTC cadets earn highest finishes ever at Purdue U. competition

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion High School JROTC cadets brought home two top finishes from the JROTC Regional Drill Competition hosted by Purdue University last weekend — recording the highest placements ever for the Giants at this competition.

The Giants were among 30 schools and private academies from the five states competing in this annual event designed to test the precision movements and synchronization of the cadets in a variety of events.

An MHS color guard team led by cadet Jackie Chueng, a senior, earned a second place finish, the highest placement ever for a Marion team in any event at the Purdue competition. The team also included cadets Stephanie Charlton, a senior, Joseph O’Donnell, a junior, and Miller Betz, a sophomore.

“I am so proud of my team,” Cheung said. “We have been practicing a lot, and it really showed today.”

Two additional MHS color guard teams earned fifth and sixth place in this event.

“This is by far the toughest event we attend each year, and we continue to get better,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Smith, the Giants’ coach. “With schools and private military academies from several states, and with more than 200 total teams competing in the various events, we more than held our ground. We also won more hardware than we have ever earned at Purdue.”

Cadet DJ Smith, a sophomore, earned a third place finish in the solo exhibition event — the first time a cadet from Marion has ever finished in the top three in this event. Smith demonstrated his creativity, precision and athleticism by spinning, throwing, and catching his drill rifle while marching about, all under the close scrutiny of the drill sergeants grading the event.

“I was so nervous, but knew I had to keep going,” Smith said.

Overall it was a great experience, Sgt. Maj. Smith said.

“Our results are even more impressive when you consider that two of the schools attending this competition are usually top finishers at the JROTC National Championship,” he said. “Our teams competing in other events performed very well, and everyone stuck together as a team. I am very proud of all 15 cadets that came this year. HOOAH!”

The Giants will travel this Saturday to compete at the University of Kentucky.