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On Saturday, March 9, the Jefferson Somerset JROTC Tiger Battalion drill team traveled to Chipley, FL, to compete in the regional drills for Area 11, of which Jefferson County is included.
In Florida, there are 12 different areas that make up the various JROTC programs, and Jefferson County's Area 11 encompasses almost the whole panhandle area.
Eight different battalions traveled to Chipley on March 9 to compete in the regional drills, and according to Jefferson Somerset JROTC instructors Major Christopher McDaniel and 1st Sargeant Terry Walker, the eight teams came away with more than just a win: the Tiger Battalions left with nothing but wins.
Competing 'head to head' with the JROTC programs in Baker County, Chipley, Crestview, Gadsden County, Holmes County, Liberty County, Tate, Vernon, Rickards, FAMU and Dean Bozeman, the Tiger Battalions scored first place in five different events, and second place in three other events.
With this win beneath their belts, the Tiger Battalion will advance all eight of their teams to the state drill, which will be held on Saturday, April 13.
The top two teams in each division are allowed to advance to the state drill competition, where, Maj. McDaniels said that the Tiger Battalion will have to compete against other, sometimes much larger, schools.
“The state of Florida has hundreds of JROTC programs,” said Maj. McDaniel, adding that Florida has one of the highest number of such programs compared to any other state. “You compete head-to-head against schools. They do not differentiate [between] the school size... It's all or nothing. There's not different levels.”
Each team will be judged individually during the April 13 State Drills, giving the Tigers eight different opportunities to place within the nearly 100 schools that will be also sending their battalions to state.
“I have been a judge and an evaluator at state competitions, and typically there's about 100 different schools throughout the state that advance to the state level. Most schools have one, two, maybe three teams,” said Maj. McDaniels, adding that larger schools, with thousands of cadets, may have a higher count of teams that advance to state, simply due to sheer numbers.
“For a school of any size to advance eight teams to go to the state competition is really something to be proud of.”
The Tiger teams that won first place during the Area 11 regional drills are: Male Unarmed Squad: commanded by Cadet Allen Washington; Male Squad Exhibition: commanded by Cadet Tavoris Tice; Male Mixed Platoon Exhibition: commanded by Cadet Tavoris Tice; Male Exhibition Duo: Damarius Alexander and Allen Washington; and Individual Exhibition - Tavoris Tice.
The Tiger teams that won second during the Area 11 regional drills are: Male Armed Squad: commanded by Cadet Damarius Alexander; Female Unarmed Squad: commanded by Cadet Major Yu’Nijah Cooper; and Individual Exhibition - Jamichael Steen.
“The kids did really well, the cadets did great, they are really looking forward to going to the state competition,” said Maj. McDaniel. “They worked hard, we're really proud of them.”
This will be the eighth year in a row that Jefferson's Tiger Battalion has advanced to the state level of JROTC drills.
The Florida State Drill will take place at Saturday, April 13 and will be held in Lakeland, FL, at the George Jenkins High School.