LRHS’ JROTC Orientation Team Sees State Championship Success | Eastern County

Samantha Rees, a junior from Lakewood Ranch High School, spent every night before a junior ROTC orienteering competition getting ready.

She would eat a carb-heavy meal and spend time studying maps from previous years. She used Google Earth to survey the terrain.

She runs at least twice a week and still leads the team’s practices.

Her hard work paid off as she finished the orienteering season ranked first in the state for women competing at the advanced level.

Throughout the season, William Cassidy, JROTC instructor at Lakewood Ranch High, said Rees placed first in all but one meet, where she came second.

Rees wasn’t the only one to find success at the 2022 Florida JROTC Orienteering State Championship on April 9 at Kelly Park in Apopka. The yellow team of the orienteering program, which is for beginners, placed first overall, and the orange team of the program, which is for intermediates, and the green team, which is for advanced, each placed second overall.

Lakewood Ranch’s orientation program as a whole ranked third overall in the state.

Although cadets compete in team divisions, orienteering is also an individual competition. Each caddy must perform well and improve throughout the season for the team to be successful.

Two boys and three girls from Lakewood Ranch placed in the top 10 in their advanced divisions.

Rees was unable to compete in last year’s state championship as she was quarantined with COVID-19, which further improved her first place finish in the advanced women’s competition at this year’s state championship. .

Senior Skye Stephens reviews a map during the state championship. Courtesy picture.

“I’ve put so much time and effort into this team because I also run all the training, and at competitions I’m responsible for making sure everyone is where they need to be,” said Rees. “Just being there and doing as well as I did, it’s exciting to see that hard work paying off.”

The season does not come without its ups and downs. Rees and junior Muda Osman said cadets can tell when they have the day off.

For example, in a competition earlier in the season, Osman had the wrong card for the first 10 minutes of the competition. After realizing he had taken the wrong course, he returned to the start to get the correct map.

“I knew I couldn’t win because I had already lost 10 minutes, but I still gave my best,” Osman said. “I didn’t do as badly as I thought. I was a little annoyed because it was wasting all my time.

Cassidy said seeing the continued success of the orienteering team reaffirms the JROTC program’s decision to abandon a drill team to create an orienteering team seven years ago. The Lakewood Ranch Orientation Team is the only school district team in Manatee County.

“It was a gamble for us when we did it,” Cassidy said. “Looking back, I’m glad we did. We will not look back. We will never go back to what we were doing. Kids love it. This is the bottom line. If you get something the kids like to do, as long as it works, don’t mess with it.

Senior Reed Smith runs through an orientation course. Courtesy picture.

With the state championship over, the students look to the future.

Rees wants to continue using an app, iOrienteering, to help develop mock lectures on the school campus to help with cadet training, but she also wants to expand the program.

“(I’m looking forward to) all the new kids,” Rees said. “I love teaching it. I hope I can make a job out of it one day. Because I love sports, I want other people to love sports too. I want to attract as many people as possible.

Osman is ready to pass on his knowledge to new cadets in the program and give them advice on how to complete the course as quickly as possible. He said what cadets need to learn most is how not to get nervous during class.

“You have to be calm,” Osman said. “On the course, slow is fast in orienteering, so you have to take your time to go through each point, constantly thinking about where you are and how you are going to get to the next point as quickly as possible without missing it. .”

Of course, Rees and Osman hope to win a third state championship.

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Dino J. Dotson