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The Ohio State University NROTC Unit Hosts 2nd Annual Buckeye Invitational

11 April 2019

From Scott A. Thornbloom

More than 300 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) student competitors and staff members from eight Midwest universities traveled to The Ohio State (OSU) University to participate in the 2nd Annual Buckeye NROTC Invitational here, April 6.

More than 300 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) student competitors and staff members from eight Midwest universities traveled to The Ohio State (OSU) University to participate in the 2nd Annual Buckeye NROTC Invitational here, April 6.

Ohio State along with fellow Big Ten schools Northwestern University, Purdue University and the University of Illinois were joined by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Iowa State University, Miami (Ohio) University and the University of Missouri NROTC units. Northwestern and IIT are part of the Chicago NROTC Consortium. The OSU Buckeye NROTC battalion planned and ran this year’s competition which began last year with the Buckeye Battalion being crowned the winner in their inaugural invitational.

“We started this last year for the leadership opportunities,” said U. S. Navy Capt. Brett Coffey, professor of Naval Science and commanding officer of The Ohio State University NROTC unit. “It’s also about bringing the units together, to compete and the ability to meet the other midshipmen across the (NROTC) enterprise. These young men and women are going to be serving as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps and inviting the units here gives everyone an opportunity to bond.”

This year The Ohio State University scored 82 points to take their second consecutive crown out distancing Miami by more than 30 points (50), Missouri (48), Iowa State (44.5), Purdue (40) and Northwestern (39.5). IIT and Illinois finished out the scoring with 11 and six points, respectively, but only competed in a few of the nine scheduled events.

Many of the midshipmen, officer candidates, Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Educational Program (MECEP) applicants and staff members said the Buckeye Invitational was more about coming together, camaraderie and networking than scoring the most points.

“I think it’s great that Ohio State hosts us. Everyone put out great effort and it’s nice to meet with midshipmen from different states and units,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Kevin Arbeznik, 21, from Cleveland and a junior with the Miami University NROTC unit. “I hope Miami midshipmen were able to strengthen their teamwork and to obtain closer bonds between each other and got to enjoy the experience of meeting other midshipmen.”

Ohio State’s Battalion Commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sean Hurd, 21, a senior from Halethrope, Maryland, said the entire unit was engaged in the planning and running of the Buckeye Invitational.

“This was definitely a leadership opportunity from the top on down.” he said. “This becomes an all-encompassing event. There are all these little opportunities where our midshipmen can grow and become better leaders. I’m so proud of this battalion.”

Hurd, a Marine-option midshipman who hopes to be an infantry officer, also said, as a unit at OSU, they want to bring as many people and schools to the event each year.

“We want to show them what we have going on here and that this is a great place. We’ve got good midshipmen and when they commission they will be good officers that they’ll want to surround themselves with when they get to their first command,” Hurd said.

The two coordinators for the Buckeye Invitational said the planning and hard work getting ready for the event was worth it.

“I think the weekend went really well,” said Midshipman 1st Class Vincent Zehentbauer, 21, from Hanoverton, Ohio. “There were no big hiccups that put a damper on the day. I think everyone in our unit communicated well, we got some good training and had some fun while putting on the event.”

Midshipman 2nd Class Stephanie Rice said her favorite things to see were the friendships rekindled from last year and all the smiles throughout the day.

“It was really neat seeing people from different schools coming together, hugging each other and saying ‘Hey I saw you on CORTRAMID (Career Orientation Training for Midshipmen) or I saw you on (summer) cruise.’ I know some of our midshipmen took the time to show the visiting midshipmen around our campus and really took a lot of pride in our unit and school,” Rice, 21, a junior from Greenwood, Indiana, said.

When he commissions and graduates in May, Zehentbauer will be a Surface Warfare Officer and assigned to the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), homeported in Mayport, Florida. Rice is a Marine-option midshipman and hopes to work in logistics when she commissions as a Marine Corps second lieutenant next year.

For new midshipmen The Buckeye Invitational was an eye-opening experience.

“I thought the invitational was awesome,” said Midshipman 4th Class Madeline Conner, 18, a freshman at OSU from Cincinnati. “I got to be on the E-Team (Endurance Race Team) and it was outstanding to be part of a team with all girls because I got a sense of camaraderie with our upper classman. It also gave me a big sense of accomplishment because I really had to pull my weight and I think I did.”

At this year’s Buckeye Invitational nine team events were held. The day began early at 6 a.m. outside Converse Hall, home of OSU’s unit, and the start of the 12.9-mile, 12 station, four-male or four-female team endurance race around the campus. Converse Hall was also the location of a four-person 22-caliber pistol team marksmanship shoot. A platoon drill, squad drill and Color Guard competition were held at the OSU Adventure Recreation Center. The Ohio State` NROTC unit’s virtual reality ship’s bridge training simulator in Converse Hall was used for a four-person Ship Handling competition. There were team athletic battles with 3-on-3 round-robin basketball games and a midshipman versus midshipman King’s Circle. Similar to a Japanese Sumo match, King’s Circle is fought in a large rope circle and competitors try to push each other out of the circle. However, the entrants also had to wear a very large inflatable bubble, like a huge beach ball that fit over each player’s head and body down to their waist. A unit staff dodge ball game was also held in the ARC between unit staff officers and enlisted instructors. The staff members also took on some of the first class midshipmen from the eight units in a battle royal. All of the events were held at locations around the OSU campus.

“The support we receive from the university has been great once again, allowing us to use facilities for this invitational,” said Coffey. “We have a great relationship with the people who work at the facilities. The ARC, which is used by the entire student body, allows us to block out a portion of the basketball courts and artificial indoor turf field.”

Coffey and many of the OSU midshipmen reiterated The Buckeye Invitational is held to build camaraderie among the units, participate in healthy competition and build and enhance leadership and teamwork skills.

“It’s been a really busy but fun weekend,” said Iowa State University Midshipman 2nd Class Nicholas Saber, 21, a junior from Chicago. “Overall the competition was tough but great and it was nice to see some familiar faces again. We had fun and we definitely built some camaraderie here this weekend.”

The Navy ROTC program develops midshipmen mentally, morally and physically, to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values. The program provides college graduates an opportunity to commission as naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service, and have potential for future development in mind and character, so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, supports 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development Program.

Bernacchi and his NSTC staff at Great Lakes and at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, also support Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp, at Great Lakes; NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities across the country; Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, R. I.; Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.


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