The Richmond Hill High School Wildcat Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps brought home another state title and several top-five finishes recently after the drill team competed at a state contest in Griffin.
Sixty-four cadets from RHHS competed March 23 against 2,000 others from 90 schools across Georgia, according to retired Lt. Col. Robert Rooker, instructor for the program.
The group placed in the top five in eight of 10 categories, he said, ranging from color guard performances, marching performances and more.
“It feels good when there are 90 schools out on the field and most schools do well to have one trophy in front of their formation, so it says a lot when you have five,” Rooker said.
In the exhibition category, which Rooker said consists of a rifle spinning routine created by the cadets, the boy’s team, led by Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Josh Dodson, won first place in that category. The girl’s team, led by Cadet Maj. Danielle Wedeking, came in second place in the same category, he added.
The group also had two fourth-place finishes in individual exhibition categories from Dodson and Wedeking’s younger sister, Kailee Wedeking, and one second-place finish in the duel category by Dodson and Steven Thomas, which consists of two-person teams.
This is the second time RHHS has brought home several state titles, Rooker said.
“We were so excited,” Rooker said. “Sgt. Major (Charles) Bradley is the coach — he is the gear that keeps this whole thing running. He’s been coaching for nine years.”
Rooker said while Bradley is the coach, the drill team is led by the students. They create their own routines by watching other schools and videos online, he said. Performing well at the state level is a priority for them, he said.
“They’re extremely excited, and they’re very dedicated and hardworking,” he said. “I don’t know how to spin rifles. It’s different than being a football coach because most football coaches played football.
“This is a cadet-led program — they are the captains of the team, they do this. I don’t know how to spin a rifle, so I can’t help them.”
Although the season doesn’t officially begin until mid-January, Rooker said the cadets begin practice in September for two hours a day, four days a week.
“They go above and beyond and come up with their own routines,” he said. “They know what they have to do to get better and what they have to do at a higher level to get to a state championship.”
Because of the drill team’s 2012 state championship, RHHS will also be traveling this weekend to the national drill team competition in Louisville, Ky. Rooker said there will be about 70 teams competing.
“We’re excited and we’re one of only three teams representing Georgia, so we’re excited,” he said. “It’s our first time there, and I think the kids will do great. They’ve earned it and they deserve it.”