DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - Twenty North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers from across the state pushed themselves through a grueling four-day gauntlet of events, testing their physical and mental limits in the annual Best Warrior Competition.
The challenges occurred at the Camp Grafton Training Center Aug. 17-20.
Sgt. Avery Johnson, 188th Army Band, won in the noncommissioned officer category, while Spc. Caleb Claxton, 3662nd Maintenance Company, was the top Soldier. They will represent North Dakota in the regional competition next spring.
“The Best Warrior Competition is not only a testament to the exceptional capabilities of our Soldiers but also a reflection of their commitment to upholding the highest standards of the military profession,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Binstock, state command sergeant major. “These warriors have shown us what it truly means to embody the values of discipline, resilience and camaraderie.”
The competition included a physical fitness test fashioned from 1947 standards, featuring pullups, squat jumps, situps, pushups and a 300-yard run. Competitors then faced knowledge boards, uniform inspections, mock public affairs interviews, day and night land navigation, M4/M17 range exercises, warrior tasks, a 6-mile ruck march with a weighted backpack, a physically demanding confidence course, and a rappel tower.
“This competition is great and the thing I’m going to take away most is meeting awesome people and being able to challenge myself, learning where my weaknesses are, and practicing on becoming a more well-rounded Soldier,” Claxton said. “It’s great being able to represent my unit during the competition and it’s a fun experience. I recommend everyone try it out at least once during their career.”
Preparation included months of physical training and studying military manuals. Many competitors found it helpful to be mentored by past BWC participants.
The winners advance to the Region VI competition in Washington against Guardsmen from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Regional winners compete in All-Guard Competition with an opportunity to compete in the All-Army Competition later next year.
State runners-up may compete in the regional contest if winners are unavailable. The runners-up in the NCO and Soldier categories are Sgt. Max Dahl, D Detachment, 188th Battalion, Air Defense Artillery, and Spc. Jonathan Lange, Company D, 112th Aviation Battalion.