The Missouri Military Academy Armed Fusileer Drill Team recently traveled to Denver, Colorado, to compete in the Rocky Mountain Drill Classic National Championship held on Saturday, April 15, 2023, where they won the national championship for overall armed drill. Read about the win on the Army JROTC website.
"We are extremely proud of each member of the Fusileer Drill Team. They are extremely dedicated to achieving excellence, support each other as loyal teammates, and are led by our outstanding coach, Rick Dehlinger," said MMA President Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret). "The significant amount of time they spend at drill team practice while still performing at high levels in the classroom, on other athletic teams, in the band, and as cadet leaders in the corps is absolutely remarkable. They represent everything we expect from cadets when they enroll at Missouri Military Academy."
Cadets Iglesias, Blanton and Yarte-Zertuche of MMA's Fusileers national championship drill team with the Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston at the 2023 Rocky Mountain Drill Classic.
The 2023 Armed Fusileer Drill Team members are as follows:
- Gage Blanton from Newburg, Missouri
- Gorka-Aitor Yarte-Zertuche from Lisbon, Portugal
- Gabriel Iglesias from Antigua Cuscatlan, El Salvador
- Bradley Thumbi from Overland Park, Kansas
- Zijie Zhou from Shenzhen, China
- Angelo Urdaneta from Boca Raton, Florida
- Duane Thompson from Troy, Missouri
- Augustin Anaya Cisneros from Monterrey, N.L., México
- Lucas Sydlewski from Houlton, Missouri
- Gerardo Quiroga from México City, México
- Malachi Imrie from Wildwood, Missouri
- River Punab-Mitchell from Hollister, Missouri
In typical Denver weather fashion, the temperatures plummeted from a balmy 80 degrees on Thursday to a snowstorm on Friday afternoon. Undeterred by the weather, the cadets diligently practiced in the hotel parking lot without weapons as they worked through the motions of the drill card. Friday night was spent on uniform preparation and studying LET questions for their personnel inspection. On Saturday, the Fusileers competed against 28 other schools including rivals Ozark High School and Waynesville High School as well as other midwestern schools.
“The Fusileers were in town to put on a drill clinic and that is exactly what they did,” said Richard Dehlinger, MMA deputy commandant of activities and support and drill team coach. “The energy that the Fusileers brought for the 12 hours of competition was intense.”
All three commanders led each sequence as the platoon executed each command with precision. In the individual drilldown competition, Cadet Yarte-Zertuche finished in 5th place among 500 cadets. The MMA Fusileers stood out with the following awards: 3rd place Unit Inspection, 2nd place Commanders Cup, 2nd place Armed Regulation, 1st place Armed Color Guard and 1st place Armed Exhibition, but it was final announcement that would bring the MMA Fusileers the most elation –the win in the Overall Armed Drill category, clinching the national championship title for them.
While in Colorado, the team visited the United States Air Force Academy, where cadets were treated to an aerial demonstration by an F-22 Raptor. The drill team also toured the iconic campus and athletic facilities before returning to Denver to prepare for the upcoming competition.
Next up, the Fusileers will compete in the 2023 US Army JROTC National Drill Team Championships and the 2023 All Services National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, FL, May 5-7, 2023.
About the MMA Fusileers
The Missouri Military Academy Fusileer drill team is a staple of MMA’s excellence in military leadership, structure, discipline and class. Cadets compete in different classifications in each of the following divisions: Armed Regulation Drill, Unarmed Regulation Drill, Armed Color Guard, Unarmed Color Guard, Armed Exhibition and Unarmed Exhibition.
Competing in the Association of Military Colleges & Schools of the United States (AMCSUS) 2019, 2020 and 2021 Annual Drill Competitions, the MMA Fusileers won first place against military schools such as Marine Military Academy, Randolph-Macon Academy, Army and Navy Academy, Riverside Military Academy, Fork Union Military Academy, Fishburne Military School, St. John’s Northwestern, Valley Forge Academy and more.
At the 2021 National High School Drill Team Competition (NHSDTC), competing in the U.S. Army Drill National Championship and the All-Service Drill National Championship, MMA's Fusileer drill team placed first in the nation in Armed Regulation at the All-Service Nationals Master Level and first in the nation for Armed Color Guard for both the All-Service Nationals Master Level and the U.S. Army Drill National Championship.
In 2022, the MMA Fusileers finished fourth in the nation in the armed masters division in the U.S. Army Drill National Championship and the All Service Drill National Championship, Facing tough competition against approximately 70 schools and roughly 1500 cadets. Cadet Michael Machary-Pagan, a then-high school senior from Lake St. Louis, Missouri, earned first place in the nation for armed commander. Cadet René Garcia Garza, a then-high school senior from Cadereyta Jimenez, N.L., México, earned first-place honors in the armed individual drilldown competition.