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News | May 6, 2024

Wisconsin Army Guard sends Soldier to national Best Warrior Competition

By Vaughn R. Larson

A Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier from Wausau will face the top National Guard Soldiers in the country at the national Best Warrior Competition in Vermont this August.

Spc. Tevin Kenton — a member of Troop C, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry — emerged from a three-way tie for first place at the regional Best Warrior Competition held May 1-5 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.

“They used whoever took first in the most events,” Kenton said of the tiebreaker method. “I’m pretty happy about the win.”

Staff Sgt. Alexander Kilbane, a Madison, Wisconsin native and currently a Sparta resident, will not advance to the national competition. But the Headquarters Detachment, 2nd Battalion, 426th Regional Training Institute member said he had a blast.

“Physically, I’m regretting going to the Best Warrior,” Kilbane admitted, “but mentally I’m glad I went.”

Kenton and Kilbane competed against Army National Guard representatives from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

“I don’t think I won a single event,” Kilbane said, “but I did hit a personal record on my Army Combat Fitness Test score, and my 12-mile ruck march time — personal bests for both. There were some absolute physical specimens out there.”

Kenton said the ruck march was his best event — completed in one hour 46 minutes — while the weapons lane was the most difficult.

“I had to step back and refocus,” Kenton said. But that adversity is also what he said he will take away from the regional competition, because he learned how to overcome it.

Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, Wisconsin’s senior enlisted leader, said the five-day competition brings the highest of highs and lowest of lows to competitors.

“They may not perform as well as they had expected in one event, but with the mentorship and motivation from their sponsors, they surprise themselves with how they exceeded their expectations in another event,” Patrouille said.

Kilbane said the swim event was the most difficult for him — 100 meters in uniform and boots, with an air temperature of 56 degrees and an estimated water temperature of 54 degrees.

“It was a bit brisk,” Kilbane said. But the entire competition was designed to be challenging.

“Nothing was asked of us that couldn’t be asked of any Soldier at any time,” Kilbane continued. “Doing everything to standard, back-to-back, rapid-fire, is very demanding. Training is important, all the way around.”

“Both competitors amazed me throughout the competition with their level of resiliency,” Patrouille remarked.

Both Kenton and Kilbane praised their sponsors and others for preparing them for the regional Best Warrior Competition.

“My success is not just me, but others around me pushing me and helping me to succeed,” Kenton said.

“It’s definitely a team effort,” Kilbane agreed.

Both Soldiers also spoke highly of how the Regional Best Warrior Competition was organized and conducted.

“It was very well run,” Kilbane said. “A lot of hard work and effort went into it. Everything went smooth.”

“It’s a very good event,” Kenton added. “It’s nice to meet like-minded people willing to go the extra mile and see how they can do.”

Kilbane said his competitors were some of the best people he’s met in the Army.

Patrouille was impressed with the camaraderie among competitors.

“These Soldiers and noncommissioned officers only met each other just a few days prior, but by the end of the competition you could witness them encouraging each other to perform their very best,” Patrouille said. “It was quite inspiring.”

In the three months leading up to the national competition, Kenton said he plans to build off the foundation of the past two competitions, continue to study and learn from what he’s accomplished. Kilbane plans to maintain the level of fitness he attained to reach this point.

“I still have ambitions of going Airborne or Air Assault,” he said.

Patrouille said he is looking forward to how Kenton and his sponsor, Sgt. 1st Class Wade Blaylock, prepare for the national competition.

“Regardless of the outcome, they will be great representatives for the Wisconsin Army National Guard,” he said.