Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 28, 2013

Area JROTC drill teams go head-to-head

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRUSHFORK — “Color guard!” a cadet called out. “Fall in! Present arms!”

The Princeton Senior High School Color Guard carried out a ceremony while judges wearing khaki uniforms carefully watched the cadets’ performances and recorded the results on clipboards. They were observing just one of the competitors in an annual JROTC drill meet at the Brushfork National Guard Armory.

Cadets from Princeton, PikeView, Bluefield and Montcalm high schools in Mercer County met Wednesday with cadets representing the Fayette Institute of Technology to demonstrate their skills and see who would reach first place. Categories included squad drill, platoon drill and color guard, said Major Bob Grace who heads the JROTC program in Princeton.

Besides marching in precise formations and obeying commands with precision, the cadets displayed concentration and self-control as they passed and twirled rifles weighing approximately 15 pounds.

“We practiced about every day the week before this, but normally we practice one day a week, Cadet Major Pauline Cole of Princeton said. “You learn a lot of responsibility and a lot of team work.”

One event all the cadets eagerly waited for was the “knock out.” All the cadets formed up in ranks on the court and obeyed drill instructions to the best of their ability.

“This is the fun part. It’s kind of like ‘Simon Says,’” Sgt. 1st Class Paul Dorsey of Montcalm High School said as his cadets and others started marching. “They wait all year to do this.”

The judges called out orders and the cadets had to obey them perfectly. Sometimes they shouted out incorrect instructions that had to be ignored.

Scores of them could be eliminated at one time. Soon the dozens of cadets had been whittled down to a dozen. Minutes later, three cadets were marching.

Then 2nd Lt. Malorie Maminta, a cadet from the Fayette Institute, lost one of her shoes. A judge picked it up and moved to return it to her, but without missing a beat, she kicked off her remaining shoe and continued the drill barefoot. This quick thinking earned her a round of applause.

“I felt like I could finish without my shoes,” she said later. “We feel really proud about ourselves with all the work we put into it. It’s awesome.”

In the squad competition, Fayette came in first. Princeton was second and PikeView was third.

Fayette was first in the platoon competition. Princeton was second and Bluefield was third.

In the color guard competition, Fayette placed first, PikeView was second and Bluefield was third.

Fayette placed first in the overall category. Princeton was second and Bluefield was third.