They say practice makes perfect, and for the Daniel Boone High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC, that old adage might just be true.
Last weekend, Daniel Boone’s JROTC took home first place overall in the 11th Annual R-S Central, Drill, Academics and Marksmanship Competition in Rutherfordton, N.C. — a prize the team has brought back to East Tennessee eight years in a row.
In addition to placing first out of 12 highly competitive teams, the team also brought home 27 team and individual awards. That’s the best the Daniel Boone team has ever done in competition, according to 1st. Lt. Chris Rowe, a senior cadet with the JROTC.
“As I started out as a freshman on the rifle team, we were barely getting anywhere and over the past three or four years we’ve been slowly just getting better,” he said Tuesday.
The competition is the premiere drill meet the team attends each year. Many of the competitors are big rivals, so walking away with the overall award is quite the feat in the world of the JROTC.
“It’s friendly competition before and after the meet, but cutthroat during,” Senior Marine Instructor Maj. Steve Sessis said.
Among the categories the team excelled in were:
n In Armed Individual Drill competition, cadets Drake Wood, Kelsie Tiller, Ryan Smith, Ryan Lovell, Craig Buchanan, Zachary Radford and Rowe took home awards.
n Cadets Skyler Horton, Megan Phillips, Lisa Fowler and Smith received awards in the Unarmed Individual Drill competiton.
n Buchanan and Austin Bays took first place in Dual Exhibition, and Rowe and Radford were awarded third place.
n In Individual Exhibition, Rowe took first place, while Buchanan placed second.
n Rowe, Horton and Radford placed first, second and fourth place, respectively, in Individual Regulation Drill, Armed.
n The marksmanship teams placed second and fifth overall, first in team standing and third in team prone.
n Summer Donald placed second, Seth Roberts placed sixth, Kyle Hart placed ninth, Rowe placed 12th and Lovell placed 14th overall in the Veteran Division.
n Desiree Ferguson placed third, Smith placed fifth, Hunter Dean placed seventh and Tiller placed 10th overall in the Rookie Division.
n In the academics competition, Joseph Monaco placed first in the freshmen class.
Individual awards included Donald, who won first place standing and third place kneeling; Hart, who won second place kneeling; and Smith, who won second place in the Rookie Division.
Donald also qualified for the National JROTC All-Service Marksmanship competition, which will be held March 23-24 in Anniston, Ala. She is the first cadet from Daniel Boone to qualify for the national matches.
“For me, it’s invigorating just to know that we’re this good and that we earn everything we get,” Donald said. “It’s amazing that we can go out here and practice, work our butts off and see it pay off with everything that we earn. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Daniel Boone has had a JROTC program for 42 years. Since the beginning, Sessis said the team has always strived to be the very best they can be.
“When you develop winners, they get accustomed to winning and they set standards high and when people chase after them, they learn to raise the standards,” he said.