Colts Neck ROTC unit excels at Area 4 championship event

COLTS NECK – The Colts Neck High School Naval Junior ROTC cadets have defended the unit’s NJROTC Area 4 academic, athletic and drill championship.

The recent competition at Colts Neck High School featured seven other schools from New Jersey and New York.

The competitors for Colts Neck were Lucas Albaladejo, Carmela Apostle, Owen Baquero, Ella Bohen, Marisa Brandon, Erica Cunningham, Nicole Dado, William Dean, David Dong, Christopher, Ferrandino, Isabella Ferrandino, Michael Fluck, Lauren Gleason, Christopher Halmi, Sarah Heeb, Tyler Higley, Grace Huegel, Richard Kemble, Isabella La Fata, Eric Lee, Amy McGee, Kelli McGovern, James, McNamara, Mary Katherine McNamara, Krista Panariello, Robert McNamara, Maxwell Miller, Louis Pergola, Elisabeth Pollinose, Chandler Reed, Emily Saffaye, Robert Schandall, Taylor Schandall, Bianca Singular, Connor Smith, Jacob Hacke, Harry Weber, Michael Whitehead, George Zemlanicky and Victoria Zilber.

Based on the team’s performance at the Area 4 event, the Colts Neck ROTC unit has qualified to compete in the Navy National Championship to be held in Pensacola, Fla., on April 7-8.

Senior Naval Science Instructor Maj. Gregory Penczak said that in championship competitions, all cadets competing in any event must be inspected as part of the Unit Personnel Inspection. Each cadet has his or her uniform inspected and is asked questions about military general orders, the national chain of command and other topics. Cadets are graded individually and as a unit on their bearing as they answer the questions.

“It is a tough 10 minutes for cadets who are used to short attention spans like most of their peers,” Penczak said.

The Area 4 competition included an academic section, basic unarmed and armed military drill events, exhibition drill events and an athletic portion with curl-ups, push-ups and a shuttle run.

“It was a great day of competition among the cadets from eight NJROTC units,” Penczak said. “Dedication and determination was evident among all the cadets. They gave it their all and it was very gratifying that we could edge out these great units.

“Fierce competition like this makes all NJROTC Area 4 units stronger when they go to national events. We are honored and looking forward to representing Area 4 at the national championship in Pensacola,” Penczak said.

“As a senior cadet, I was nervous, but very excited to compete in my last Area 4 championship,” Baquero said. “I was especially excited for drill because that is the main event I participate in. I was extremely happy and honored to have placed first for the armed exhibition portion of the competition, although our regulation drill needs much improvement. I am excited to represent Area 4 at the Navy nationals in Pensacola.”

“This was my first experience competing in the championship,” Miller said. “It was intriguing and exciting to be a part of it and see how it played out. I am thrilled to be a part of our team going to the national championship.”

“This event is a true test of a unit’s ability to work as a team and display the many talents each cadet possesses,” Pergola said. “It is a true pleasure to be among cadets and instructors who strive for greatness.”