On Oct. 5, the Johnson JROTC orienteering team competes, marking their first competitive event of the year.
The commander of male orienteering, senior Cholo Salazar, had the SAT on the day of the competition. Therefore, leading the male team temporarily is the orienteering executive officer, or XO, senior Sean Parks.
“Even though I’m not going to the first competition, I feel excited and nervous at the same time. Being the commander and not being there for the first competition kinda sucks, but I believe that my XO, Sean Parks, will lead the team well and I’m confident in his ability,” Salazar said.
Meanwhile, the female orienteering commander, Nhi Nguygen is leading the girl’s team.
In total, three teams went to this first competition: a male varsity team , a male junior varsity team , and a female varsity team.
“Orienteering is finding points located on a map in the real world. We go from a starting point and we have to run and collect these points in a certain amount of time,” Parks said.
Practices are in the morning from 7:10 to 8:10, and involve map and navigation training, group running, and leadership experience.
“I believe that we are very prepared because of the lessons I taught them all about land navigation. I taught various lessons such as: how to use a compass, plot points, orient the map and many more strategies that will be used during the competitions. Therefore, when I teach them, they learn fast and I’m confident that they’ll win,” Salazar said.
The competitors met at the Johnson JROTC building at 6:30 a.m. and were bussed to the competition site. After arriving at the military base, where the competition was held, competitors have about an hour to prepare and practice the map reading technique and land navigation before they would be put to the test.
“I’m the map reader, so basically I’m the one who plots the map points and finds out where we are, “ contestant Bryan Wilson said.
This is Christensen’s first year as a team commander for orienteering, but has been prepared by both Salazar and his experience on the varsity team.
“I just kinda keep order amongst the team, and make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and doing their job,” Christensen said.
During the competition, the temperature was 93 degrees. Varsity teams, both male and female, were competing for 90 minutes in the wilderness while junior varsity competition for a shorter 60 minutes. Male varsity finished fifth place of the 10 of schools with 161 points, and Roosevelt at first with 197 points. Male junior varsity arrived late, and was thus deducted points for a late arrival, finishing at negative 180 points. Female varsity, after being lost for over an hour was disqualified. Nhi Nguyen wasn’t made aware she was commander until 2 days before the competition. However, the experience proved beneficial in the end.
“Most of the girls it was their first time, including me as well; but I feel like for our first time we did pretty good. They were pretty nervous at first, and they thought that they weren’t gonna find any points; but that turned out not to be true, we ended up finding five points. It was going well, and then we got lost in the woods; because we didn’t know how to read the maps yet. So we didn’t know to stick to roads and trails and of course we went into the forest and couldn’t use the compass, and so of course we got lost. We weren’t prepared in learning the basics at all, in how to read the maps, navigate and all that. We learned how to do that on friday, the day literally before competition. We definitely had fun, and learned a lot of stuff on the way too. For example like sticking on the roads so at least we know where we are,” Nguygen said.
Nguygen’s team was lost in the woods for about an hour. The temperature had moved up to 94 degrees, and the girls were running out of water.
“I tried to keep them as calm as I could, and they were pretty good. No one was panicking and running around all over the place,” Nguygen said.
The team was able to call Major Thomas Groggett and hike their way back to the main road. Once there, they were easily tracked. Although the team was disqualified for being late, Nguygen saw their defeat as a leadership lesson.
“As commander I’m trying to keep them straight and prepared as much as I can so I’m trying to read the book and all that stuff. But as far as morale goes, I think they’re looking forward to it. I think they just want to prove themselves, and do better than they did the first competition. I know they can do better, they have potential, they’re all very good candidates for the team. I think as commander I want to be someone that they look up to even in their time of their crisis. I don’t want them to give up on themselves, I’ll be there for them and encourage them,” Nguygen said.
Nguygen has already begun preparation for the next competition, and enacted changes that she thinks would help better her team.
“ I’m trying to get the girls to get to go to practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ve been talking with Cholo [Male Orienteering Commander] to go over the basics with me soon, other than that I need them to know the basics, and conditioning wise, just running. I think all of them are fine though. I think in orienteering confidence plays a major part because some people are given specific roles, like you’re in charge of compass, you’re in charge of map reading, you’re in charge of pace setting. Sometimes I feel some people are not as confident in these skills, and think that they’re leading the team downhill. I’ll do my best so that they feel more confident when they go to competitions,” Nguygen said.
Nguygen’s team of four has since started attending practices on Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Johnson JROTC wing in order to prevent a repeat of this competition
“ Look out for us on the competition, we’re not holding back; we’re gonna be well prepared,” Nguygen said.