As 50 members of the Killeen High School Junior ROTC battalion traveled home from competition in Fort Worth, their student commander told them he was proud of their performance.
It was a few days later that the group found out they won the grand championship of the JROTC Cowtown Classic Invitational Drill Meet, the largest competition of its kind in Texas.
On Thursday, the battalion received the grand champion trophy and senior Kasey Hudgins repeated what he told them that day on the bus — he was proud of their effort.
“Going into it I was nervous,” Hudgins said, describing the huge competition — which drew 42 schools from Texas and Oklahoma. “It was nerve-wracking and kind of surreal.”
Just before retired Lt. Col. Richard Crossley, Jr., director of Army Instruction in Fort Worth Independent School District walked into the KHS air rifle range, senior JROTC instructor retired Lt. Col. John Stanley offered his own praise.
He pointed out that all the trophies and medals they would soon add to their crowded trophy case did not include an individual first place finish, only second and third places along with the grand championship.
In all, the team earned nine trophies and four individual medals, along with the grand championship trophy.
The point, Stanley said, is that the championship was the result of a cumulative team effort.
“They all tried as hard as they could and they prevailed. You heard him,” Stanley said of his student commander. “He was proud of their performance.”
While the leaders said they were most proud of the team members’ efforts, they acknowledged that the Cowtown trophy of a cowboy on a rearing horse was pretty awesome.
“It was a great accomplishment,” said senior Troy Cooper, the battalion executive officer. “Our sense of family is what drives us here. It was a dream come true, like the Super Bowl.”
In addition to the grand championship, the KHS battalion won team second place in female physical fitness, team air rifle, male physical fitness in sit-ups, air rifle standing position, female physical fitness in sit-ups and air rifle prone position. They won third place in female physical fitness in pushups and in team academic challenge.
Each of the battalion’s individual teams finished in the top 10 of their categories.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Hudgins of the moment he found out the battalion won the grand championship, a first for the KHS group in the Cowtown Classic. “I was proud of everyone.”