Home Turf

For the first time in school history, the physical fitness national championship is held on home turf. On Saturday, May 7, Catholic High’s JROTC will host the national physical fitness competition. 

Most know the school fitness team for its domination in the sport. Currently, the team has won six national championships in a row. While the team typically travels to the west coast or east coast for the national competition, the location was recently moved to our school. With the home-field advantage, and Sgt. Major retiring, it is more important than ever to win the championship.

“In previous years, nationals were held in San Diego, California,” said Sgt. Major R.S. Jernigan, “and it moved to the east coast at Fort Indiantown Gap. Because of covid, Fort Indiantown Gap would not allow it there. San Diego [also would not allow it] because of billeting reasons there.”

With the need for a location, Sgt. Major stepped forward. He said, “I’m a member of The Marine Youth Foundation Board, and I went to the director and said ‘If we can’t have it on the east coast or the west coast, why can’t we have it in the middle of the U.S. at Little Rock, Arkansas.’ He [the director] thought that was a good idea so we started looking at billeting and so on and so forth. All the board members voted yes, the competition is now at Catholic High.”

Sgt. Major would like future events to be held at the school. “After everybody gets here, hopefully, it will remain here,” said Sgt. Major. “It’s more likely that they will make it on the east coast one year, west coast another year, and then back in the middle at Catholic High school.”

Although the school fitness team is excited to host the event, there is a lot of prework off and on the field. “Not only do I have to worry about the physical fitness team itself, I’m going to have everyone now coming to me asking about this and that. There are a lot of moving pieces. You got to have billeting, judges, equipment, so on and so forth,” said Sgt. Major.

As time approaches nationals, the fitness team has begun to train harder than ever. “We do a lot of core and pull-ups over the winter,” said senior Sam Robinson. “Eventually we’re going to add some more running and other training. I’m excited that we are going to host nationals, but we are training harder than we ever had because of this.”

“It’s important to not only win for the school, but it’s also Sgt. Major’s last year,” said Robinson. “As a team, we want to make him proud, and there’s no better way to do that than by winning. It’s something to remember when the training gets hard.”

Senior Mitchell Luyet, a friend of many competing fitness members, has noticed a change in the team’s attitude. “They complain about the workouts, but you can tell that they want to win more than ever. I can imagine how that might help them power through the winter and focus on getting close to winning.”

Sgt. Major is the most enthusiastic about competing again. “If anything, the workouts have gotten even harder,” said Sgt. Major. “I love winning, and you can’t lose on your home field.”

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