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Bruins JROTC comes up short on big stage

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Instructor says team learned from national competition

By Marty Finley

Central Hardin High School’s JROTC team did not capture any awards at the U.S. Army Cadet Command JROTC Drill Championships in Louisville on Saturday, but their instructor chalked the competition up as a learning experience.

“Our kids probably did the best they’ve ever done,” said retired Lt. Col. Roland Haun, the team’s senior Army instructor, Sunday.

More than 70 teams competed at the Kentucky International Convention Center and the field had national powerhouses with advanced skill levels, he said.

“There were some teams it’s hard to imagine how good they are,” he said.

Central Hardin competed in platoon, color guard, exhibition and platoon inspection. Haun said the teams performed well in every category, particularly the female color guard and the platoon drill.

But Haun said he might be proudest of the exhibition performance because it is the newest team at Central Hardin walking into the highest level of competition against teams with more experience. Exhibition is the only freestyle event in the competition that allows schools to create their own routines interwoven with individualized flourishes.

“This was the large stage,” he said.

Central Hardin was one of the first teams to compete Saturday morning, which is not preferable, he said, because judges tend to avoid giving top scores early with so many teams waiting in the wings.

Despite that, he said he never felt one team had a real advantage over another with the judges and those who placed earned the awards and accolades.

Central Hardin is still waiting to find out where it placed overall, which could come today. The top teams in the competition will now travel to Daytona Beach, Fla. For the JROTC drill championships for all military JROTC branches, he said.

Haun said he wants to pluck every valuable teaching moment he can from the nationals competition so Central Hardin can improve each year, return to nationals and build its own credibility as a top program.

“We learned a lot,” he said.

The competition brings to a close a stellar season for Central Hardin in which it never placed lower than another Kentucky school and beat nearly every team in the 7th Brigade.

Haun said the team also finished in the top three in all major competitions. Its third-place finish in theSgt. Maj. Paul C. Gray JROTC Invitational Drill, Marksmanship and Academic Championships at North Hardin High School last month cemented its status in the national competition.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.