Hardened by an intense interstate contest in April, the Nevada Army Guard’s Spc. Grant Reimers and Sgt. Oswald Sanchez swept the Region VII Best Warrior Competition here in mid-May.
Their domination in the Soldier (private to specialist ranks) and Non-Commissioned Officer (sergeant and above) divisions respectively marked the first clean sweep for Nevada Soldiers in regional competition since the inception of the contest in 2002.
The Army’s Best Warrior Competition tests Soldiers’ physical and mental abilities in a wide range of events, usually including the Army Physical Fitness Test, Warrior Tasks, weapons qualifications, a board appearance and written exam.
A wide variety of other Army-based events may also be contested and competitions often include a mystery event that force Soldiers to adapt and overcome unexpected situations.
With their wins, Reimers, 22, of Reno, and Sanchez, 34, of Las Vegas, earned trips to participate in the national Best Warrior contest this summer at Camp Ripley, Minn. (Check NevadaGuard.com for latest results.)
They were mentored by a former regional winner, Julian Batz, who won the Soldier division in 2012. Batz, now 25 and staff sergeant, assisted the Nevada team this year along with Staff Sgt. Steven Lawson. Lawson had finished second in the state’s internal NCO Best Warrior contest earlier this spring.
The Region VII competition included Soldiers from the states of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Colorado, California and the territory of Guam.
“I’m proud to represent Nevada, and it’s even more special with Sanchez from the south and me from the north,” said Reimers, a motor transport operator in the 1859th Transportation Company. “My first thought was to thank God for the opportunity. The effort we put in and our camaraderie helped us.”
“It was a nice surprise to sweep,” said Sanchez, a scout with Charlie Troop, 1-221st Cavalry. “After the third event, I knew we had a very good chance of sweeping the event. At that moment (after the obstacle course), I could tell we had caught the attention of the state sergeants major.
“They were talking about the Nevada boys.”
Although the Best Warrior participants are not informed of their placing until the final award ceremony, both Reimers and Sanchez knew they had begun well by winning their respective APFT 2-mile runs. Reimers also knew he had scored well in the weapons qualification, recording 77 hits out of 80 shots in M9 pistol and M4 rifle marksmanship.
Reimers continued to put the pressure onto his competitors by clocking the fastest time in both day- and night-land navigation. But he believed any chance for first-place may have slipped away when he failed to complete the ruck march in the allotted time period.
Despite zero points in the ruck march, Reimers learned at the award ceremony that he had done well enough in several other events – including an obstacle course and M249 machine gun qualifying – to claim the regional Best Warrior title.
Sanchez knew he was doing well because he “flew” through the obstacle course was one of only a few NCOs to complete the ruck march within the time deadline. His only disappointment came in the M4 qualification.
“That is the only time I felt nervous that I lost the lead,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez rebounded to clinch the title with a strong appearance board. He was buoyed by a remark by the President of the Board, who said: “You should be proud of what you did during the competition and especially this board.”
Sanchez and Reimers entered the regional competition hardened from a fierce battle in April to determine the state’s overall Best Warrior during Nevada’s internal contest. Sanchez had to work overtime to finally defeat upstart Reimers at Camp Stead.
Sanchez was tied with Reimers after the first 11 events of the four-day competition to determine the state’s top Soldiers and Non-commissioned Officers. The two then went to an overtime 12th event – Reflexive Fire marksmanship – that finally separated the two and gave Sanchez the overarching title of Best Warrior. Sanchez was also tabbed as the Non-commissioned Officer of the Year and Reimers garnered the Soldier of the Year victory.
In addition to the race for the overall title, Sanchez had plenty of competition within his own Non-commissioned Officer division, as he had to win the last two scheduled events, the written exam and weapons qualification, to finally dispatch Lawson of the 1859th Transportation Company in the NCO category.
Sanchez scored a 37 out of a possible 40 on his rifle qualification while Lawson could only muster a 29.
The Soldiers’ division was just as competitive, as Spc. Michael Consul of D Company, 3/140th Aviation, put the pressure on Reimers by winning three of the 11 events contested. But Reimers won five events to hold off Consul 47-44 in the overall score that gave contestants points based off their places in each individual event.
“We could only speculate on who was winning because it felt like it was so close,” Reimers said. “By no means was it a slam dunk at any time.”
Consul, 30, had started out with the early lead by posting the highest score out of any competitor in the APFT. He recorded the contest’s only 300 score with his effort of 78 push-ups, 82 sit-ups and 13 minutes, 14 seconds 2-mile run.
Reimers rebounded and took both the day- and night land navigation and Warrior Task events to move into a slim lead he never relinquished.
The events contested were: APFT; Weapons Skills Test; Essay Contest; 12-mile Ruck March; Day Land Navigation; Night Land Navigation; Warrior Tasks; Mystery Event (Weapons Assembly); Appearance Board; Written Exam; and Weapons Qualification on both rifle and pistol.
A total of five Soldiers competed in the NCO of the Year contest; four competed in the Soldier of the Year competition. For information on participating in the 2018 Best Warrior competition, call 775-887-7350.
Erick Studenicka is a Sgt. 1st Class with the Nevada National Guard.