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Wasatch High ROTC takes state trophies

Wasatch High School Air Force Junior ROTC JROTC cadets obstacle course raiders team 11-9-2021
Denise Harris
Wasatch High School
Cadet Meg Harris walks a balance beam while teammates Preston Barker (left) and Morgan Simis follow along at the Dixie High School obstacle course.

For more information about the program, visit the Wasatch High School Air Force JROTC Program Facebook page or email denise.harris@wasatch.edu.

Student-cadets in Wasatch High School Air Force Junior ROTC won its state competition on Saturday.

The Wasatch High JROTC raiders team competes in tests of military-style fitness. Last weekend at Dixie High School in St. George, it won first place in the primary obstacle course event against 16 other squads, and the program’s first overall victory in its five-year existence. Taking first place were the co-ed and all-female obstacle course teams, the all-female relay-race team and co-ed tire-flipping team.

Wasatch High School Air Force JROTC raiders state competition trophy
Denise Harris
Wasatch High School
Cadets (L-R) Tyson Averett, Meg Harris, Mason Ray and Jacob Jenkins stand with a competition judge and the trophy they won in the obstacle course competition.

“They love to win,” said Denise Harris, co-instructor and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. "They’re competitive, and they always want to beat other schools. It was great to be the winners, but they were cheering on the other teams. All the teams were cheering on each other because at the end of the day, they realize that we’re all in it together. They want to represent and be proud, and they did a good job.”

The program is one of only seven in Utah high schools branching from the Air Force, and 24 of the 70 Wasatch High JROTC members are on the raiders. Student cadets run all 12 of the clubs, including administrative work, mentoring and most other leadership duties. Harris says the structure is designed to make student cadets step into leadership roles, one of the main “soft skills” it fosters.

They take JROTC as an elective class, and sub-groups like the raiders, drill, marksmanship and academic bowl teams practice around school hours multiple times a week.

Cadets also do lots of community service; last year, about 65 cadets logged 1,400 hours.

The program offers a foundational path into military careers and scholarship opportunities. Above all to many, it’s an experience in personal growth and camaraderie.

“What motivates them is each other,” Harris said. “They all want to win, and it’s fun to get promoted and to win awards and trophies, but what motivates them is they have built friendships and relationships here. They want to be there for each other. They call each other brother and sister, and a lot of these cadets never would have met each other if it wasn’t for this program, because they all run in different social circles.”

In the obstacle course race last weekend, Mason Ray, Tyson Averett, Meg Harris, and Jacob Jenkins made up the winning mixed team, and Mary Enger, Natalie Jenkins, Rosalyn Giese and Sammy Dahl comprised the all-female team.

Jenkins is a senior and the commander of all cadets in the program, and Averett is a junior and the leader of the raiders team.

Denise Harris says JROTC is looking to grow to about 100 members.

Wasatch High School Air Force Junior ROTC JROTC state championship trophy trophies
Denise Harris
Wasatch High School
The Wasatch High School Air Force JROTC raiders team poses with the trophies it won at the state competitions at Dixie High School Saturday.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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