Alyssa Arre, Photo Editor

The University’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) placed first in the Cornell University Invitational Drill Competition last Saturday.

The competition consisted of two categories: Drill and Military Excellence Competition (MEC.)

“It did not come easy,” battalion drill officer Joshua Nysenaum said. “The drill and MEC teams put in a lot of work to make this win possible.”

The largest success was during the MEC, with the Rochester unit – — comprised of NROTC students from UR, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College, and SUNY Brockport — taking first place in the swimming and relay events and second place in the Iron Man category.

Also competing were the United States Naval Academy and Military Academy, West Point, Villanova University, the University of Pennsylvania, Norwich University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Maritime, and Massachusetts Maritime.

The NROTC Midshipmen began training for the competition before the start of the school year, practicing drill every Monday and Wednesday from 5:45 to 7:30 a.m. with physical training on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Extra hours were implemented into their regime during the two weeks prior to the invitational.

“We hold ourselves to a very high standard,” Battalion Commander Erika Grattidge said. “And that’s the way we practice every year.”

UR has taken first in at least one section of the competition each year, but Nysenbaum said this year was one of the best outcomes yet.

The Midshipmen spent the night before the competition in sleeping bags on the floor of the indoor track, where the events were to take place. Shifts of two people had to serve as “fire watches” at all times throughout the night to guard gear and rifles.

MIDN Nicholas Morgante had not competed in a drill competition before Saturday.

“I was definitely nervous but felt prepared and confident enough in what I was doing,” Morgante said.

Nysenbaum said the win made him proud to continue the legacy of Rochester NROTC.

“When I was a freshman, I never understood what the upperclassmen meant when they said we were one of the best units you could go to,” he said. “But these competitions show everyone what we’re made of.”

The Rochester unit beat the Navy and Army service academies this weekend as well.

“I think it’s just time, hard work, and commitment that puts us over the top for these kinds of events,” Grattidge said.

Nysenbaum attributed the success to his fellow midshipmen.

“We have a small unit, so we’re a pretty tight-knit group,” he said. “We all watch each other and cheer harder than any other school.”

NROTC’s purpose goes beyond winning drill competitions, however. The training and preparation implemented by the program has far longer term implications.

According to Grattidge, it’s about “professional development and applicability to becoming military officers in the future [and] physical readiness for being deployed in active-duty military.”

Nysenbaum agreed.

“Ultimately, these competitions are about preparing us for our future as Navy and Marine Corps officers,” he said.

“[We] felt pretty proud that [we] were a part of something so great,” Morgante said. “The fact that we were able to all come together as one unit and work for a common goal and [be] successful was really rewarding.”

The next invitational will take place at Villanova University next semester.

“We’re the team to beat,” Nysenbaum said. “Everyone is going to remember us, so we have to train harder to keep up our winning reputation.”

He also noted that room still exists for improvement as they did not win first in each individual category.

“[It] sets the bar higher for next year,” Morgante said. “So we have to keep it up, keep winning, [and] keep working hard.”

McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.

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