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FORT MCCOY, Wis. - After battling rainy conditions, the Wisconsin Army National Guard wrapped up its three-day Best Warrior Competition Sunday.

Spc. Zackary Warnke, of Oshkosh, Wis., of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, won State Soldier of the Year, and Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabisnki, of Holmen, Wis., of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, won State Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Both Soldiers will move on to represent Wisconsin against winners of other states at Camp Ripley, Minn., in May.

"The competition not only is a great way to see what you can do as a Soldier," explained Zabinski, "but it also makes you a better Soldier for your unit. You learn so much about yourself and the Army before, during and after the competition is over."

This yearís competition included a stress-fire range, physical fitness test, an M4 and M9 weapons qualification, a call-for-fire exercise, day and night land navigation, a written test, warrior tasks, an appearance board and finally concluded with a 12-mile road march Sunday morning.

While the weather was constantly changing between sunshine, rain, sleet, hail and lightning, all the competitors pushed through, showing state leadership their warrior skills and tenacity.

Sgt. 1st Class Stan Grandt, a member of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, shared his thoughts on the competition at the award ceremony. "At one point you didnít think you could complete basic training, but you did. So why not open more doors of opportunity now that you have the chance again?"

Chaplainís assistant Sgt. Steven Jopek of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team explained that above all else you just have to believe in yourself when preparing for the competition. "You just have to prepare and understand the Army," stated Jopek. "The upper hand lies in confidence; just have faith in yourself."

Spc. Lancaster, who represented the 132nd Army Band and the 64th Troop Command, said the Best Warrior competition is important for the careers of Soldiers as it shows leaders what they are made of and provides them the opportunity to stand out above the rest.


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