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Montana soldiers compete for title of 'Best Warrior'

Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-09 11:10:51-04

HELENA — Every year, soldiers from all over Montana gather together at Fort Harrison to compete in the "Best Warrior Competition." Soldiers compete against each other for the honor of winning the title "Soldier of the Year."

On Tuesday, eight soldiers from all over Montana began a three-day competition to earn the title of "Best Warrior." The soldiers were tested on a variety of skills.

"Today is the obstacle course taking place behind me. And from that, it's going to be a knowledge skills test, basic soldier skills, things like treating a casualty, using a radio, assembling and disassembling a weapon," said Major Ryan Finnegan, the Public Affairs Officer for the Montana National Guard.

The competition runs from sunrise to sundown and can be quite grueling.

"All of these skills are things that every soldier should know how to do. But when you put them back to back like this over three days and make it a competition, it really gives people an opportunity to rise to the occasion, demonstrate that they are the best, and show that they have what it takes to be the best warrior for Montana," said Finnegan.

One big challenge is that the participants don't know what competitions they're headed to next. They're told what they have to do right on the spot, but what comes next is a mystery.

Sergeant Gabrielle Beveridge was the only female in this year's competition, and she says you gotta be on the ready.

"You just got to stay on your toes, keep an open mindset. Like I said, I didn't getting this event. I just got to let it go. March on. I have an awesome sponsor. He's got bag full of food and snacks... Just hydrate, eat and just do the best you can and keep a clear mindset is the most important thing," said Beveridge.

The competition is about more than winning though, the competitors build mutual respect for each other, and bond over the challenge.

"Here is such a small group of us, we're all already like pretty tight-knit. I have two junior soldiers here with me, also representing the one on one every night. And us three have been pretty tight on this, on the scorecards and just pretty tight keeping each other motivated and watching over each other," said Beveridge.

The winners of Montana's Best Warrior Competition is Specialist Corporal Mathew Lee, who won Soldier of the Year, and Sergeant Zach Sommerfield, who won Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

They will next compete in the regional competition where they have a chance to earn a trip to the national competition.