local cadets celebrate their own final four

Special to The Courier

Members of the Easley High School NJROTC orienteering team celebrate after taking fourth place in the National NJROTC Orienteering Championship competition in Elberton, Ga., earlier this month.

Easley High NJROTC orienteering team takes

fourth in national championship

ELBERTON, Ga. — As college basketball’s March Madness gets under way this week with the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, Easley High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) orienteering team is celebrating a Final Four appearance of its own.

The Easley cadets took fourth place in the National NJROTC Orienteering Championship competition, held at Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton, Ga., on March 8-9.

Orienteering is an outdoor activity that requires navigational skills using tools such as a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain.

Each of the 13 NJROTC areas throughout the United States — consisting of more than 600 NJROTC units with approximately 70,000 cadets — held qualifying orienteering competitions to determine which units from each area were eligible to be invited to the national event.

The Easley squad was invited because it won the area six meet last year and hosted the area six meet this year. Area six consists of 65 units in North and South Carolina. Twenty two NJROTC units, some from as far away as California, ventured to the 2,508-acre state park hoping to win the national title. Easley’s team consisted of six first-year cadets, six second-year cadets and three third-year cadets, maxing out the total number of 15 members that each unit could enter.

Easley’s team tied for fourth place with South Aiken, which is one of Easley’s rivals.

Three set cross-country courses were laid out by the Georgia Orienteering Club, ranging in distance from 2.5 miles to 3.5 miles using international orienteering control markers. The runners on the Yellow course (3.2 km) were Brenda Lopez-Perez, Colton Sheriff, Chase Wengerd, Hunter Nix and Matthew West. On the Orange course (4.1 km) were Tyler Burton, Joey Sigler, Ryan Jeanes, Natanael Lopez-Perez and Savannah Kalasinski. The Green course (5.7 km), which was the hardest, was run by John Spitzmiller, Justin Hill, Brandon Marsh, Eric Crenshaw and Freddy Juarez.

“Easley’s cadets worked extremely hard for this accomplishment,” Easley instructor Chief Mark Stauder said. “These younger cadets going up against more experienced orienteers and doing as well as they did makes me very proud to be their coach.”

The 2015 NJROTC Orienteering Nationals will be held in California, and the members of Easley’s team hope they can qualify and afford to compete.