Carson High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Orienteering Team climbed its way up to the top when it made it to the NJROTC national competition at Vazquez Rocks Regional Park in Agua Dulce, Calif., on Feb. 16 and 17.
Carson students went up against 29 other teams consisting of 500 cadets around the U.S. to test their land navigation, mapping and topography and forestry.
The cadets took home several achievements last month at the competition in California. Riley Dunn placed fourth among 102 varsity males, Christopher Paluch took fifth and Kyle Navarro took 13th. Briana Sanchez placed third among 43 junior varsity females and Bryar Fancher placed ninth overall while she took first place on the second day.
Most of the Carson team, in the meantime, placed in the top quartile of runners, including Jared Deselms, Dunn, Jared Meyer and Navarro; team junior varsity competitors include Fancher, Kyle Holloway, Garret Nussbaumer and Sanchez. Junior varsity non-competitors include Trinity Harvey, Hayden Hold, Manuel Hoyos-Velasquez, Darren Montalvo and Anika Soulier.
Chief Daniel Ingram, Carson’s NJROTC instructor for five years, said Carson City School District has been supportive of making sure the school’s students get to their meets.
“Two years ago, we had an interview done, and we had gone to Georgia,” he said. “In Georgia, we placed 15th. We’re moving up the ladder. Our first year, nobody even placed.”
There hardly was money at the time for proper uniforms, and now as the students demonstrate improvement and interest, the potential for Carson’s team to rank No. 1 nationally continues to increase each year, he said.
Ingram noted the members frequently ride a bus for several hours to attend a competition, run a course for one or two hours and return on the bus.
“These cadets are seriously dedicated,” he said.
At Vazquez Rocks, the mapper’s notes on the site indicated the area, now mostly open grassland, offers steep, hilly terrain with minor trails, boulder features and warns contestants for various hindrances such as yucca or poison oak, though competitors weren’t expected to have gone near these hazards.
Students had an opportunity to learn how to read maps to avoid such dangers and figure out details and colors. To compete, with five members on a team, the times of the top three runners were added together and whoever has the shortest completion time is first followed by the second and so on. At least three competitors must finish the course, and Ingram said in many cases, that doesn’t happen.
“If they miss one or if they do it in the wrong order, they’re disqualified,” he said.
Students train all year, and he said it’s a sport they can continue for the rest of their lives if they wish. Carson’s team is part of Orienteering USA, which has a competition coming up on April 13 and 14.
“We run against people in their 70s and 80s … but it’s humbling, and these people are in such great shape,” he said.
Some trips are more expensive than others and Carson can’t always attend because of airfare and hotel costs, but Ingram said they do try to attend local or regional opportunities as much as they can.
“We’ve been steadily moving up,” he said.