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Soldiers from the Montana National Guard compete to be crowned “Best Warrior”



Helena, Montana – For the “Best Warrior Competition,” soldiers from all over Montana congregate to Fort Harrison each year.

For the distinction of being named “Soldier of the Year,” soldiers compete against one another.

Eight troops from all over Montana started a three-day tournament on Tuesday to determine who was the “Best Warrior.” Several skills were put to the test for the soldiers.

“Today is the obstacle course taking place behind me. And from that, it’s going to be a knowledge skills test, basic soldier skills, things like treating a casualty, using a radio, assembling and disassembling a weapon,” said Major Ryan Finnegan, the Public Affairs Officer for the Montana National Guard.

The competition can be very taxing and lasts from dawn to dusk.

“All of these skills are things that every soldier should know how to do. But when you put them back to back like this over three days and make it a competition, it really gives people an opportunity to rise to the occasion, demonstrate that they are the best, and show that they have what it takes to be the best warrior for Montana,” said Finnegan.

The fact that the competitors are uncertain of their future competition is a significant challenge. On the spot, they are given instructions, but what happens next is unclear.

The lone female competitor in this year’s competition, Sergeant Gabrielle Beveridge, advises being prepared.

“You just got to stay on your toes, keep an open mindset. Like I said, I didn’t getting this event. I just got to let it go. March on. I have an awesome sponsor. He’s got bag full of food and snacks… Just hydrate, eat and just do the best you can and keep a clear mindset is the most important thing,” said Beveridge.

However, the competition is about more than just who comes out on top; the participants grow to respect one another and form bonds over the task.

“Here is such a small group of us, we’re all already like pretty tight-knit. I have two junior soldiers here with me, also representing the one on one every night. And us three have been pretty tight on this, on the scorecards and just pretty tight keeping each other motivated and watching over each other,” said Beveridge.

Specialist Corporal Mathew Lee, who earned Soldier of the Year, and Sergeant Zach Sommerfield, who won Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, are the winners of Montana’s Best Warrior competition.

Following that, students will compete in the regional competition for a chance to advance to the national competition.

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