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South Effingham's NJROTC drill team qualifies for national event
Ames Spinning.jpg
South Effingham’s Eric Ames spins his rifle during a drill team competition.
This is a first for us (in the 23-year history of the school).
Lt. Col. Terry Stautberg, senior naval science instructor at South Effingham

GUYTON  -- South Effingham's NJROTC drill team is about to take a long-desired extra step.

“Finally, we finished top two at the state level,” said Lt. Col. Terry Stautberg (USMC, Ret.), senior naval science instructor. “We actually call it ‘the area’ for Area 12 but it’s basically all the Navy JROTCs in Georgia and north Florida. There are sixty schools and we finished second.”

South Effingham’s showing at Coffee High School in Douglas on March 2 earned it a berth in the national NJROTC drill team competition in Pensacola, Fla., on April 5-6.

“This is a first for us (in the 23-year history of the school),” Stautberg said. “(The cadets) lost their mind when they made it.”

South Effingham barely missed claiming a national drill team spot in each of the previous two years. Three area squads were allowed to advance to Pensacola in 2019. In 2017 and 2018 when South Effingham finished third, that wasn’t good enough.

“Isn’t that something?” Stautberg said with a chuckle.

South Effingham has qualified for the national NJROTC rifle cometition 10 times in the last 14 years, Stautberg said.

Drill team competitions feature a uniform inspection. Each team can have up to 40 members. South Effingham has 38, including Madison Abernathy, Adrienne Acuna, Steven Adams, Eric Ames, Emily Belcourt, Makayla Bouchea, Tyler Carter, Matthew Chance, Julian Childers, Gabrielle Dasher, Noah Desimas, Konnor Durrence, Brandon Eason, Landon Fagan, Ayden Fireck, Evan Fuchs, Kabrea Grimes, Mitchell Harris, Karleigh Hively, Jameson Karp, Garrett Leach, Tenaya Lorenz, Isabelle Lugo, Joe Metsala, Bracey Nelems, Rose Odell, Brodey Payne, David Runkle, Christopher Salas, Joseph Sanders, Joyanna Sanders, Alexander Santangelo, Cierra Saxon, Desiree Saxon, Dominic Sell, Kyle Velazco and Haile Winter.

“After the uniform inspection, then it’s groupings,” Stautberg said. “Out of the forty kids, you have to have fifteen take an academic exam (about naval science and current events) and then you have the athletic events. Eight males and eight females have to do pushups and situps, and then you’ve got eight males and eight females who have to do a 100-yard relay runs, and four males and four females have to do a 200-meter relay run.”

There are also five different drill events. They are under the direction of AZ1 Ross Johnson.

“I handle the rifle team and orienteering (navigation) team, and he’s got the drill team and academic team,” Stautberg said.