CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Two Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers represented Wisconsin at the Region IV Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Atterbury, Ind., May 13-16.
Sgt. Savannah Lipinski, a drill sergeant with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion from Madison, Wisconsin, and Spc. Timothy Hicks, a combat engineer with Company B, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion from La Crosse, Wisconsin, competed as Wisconsin’s Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) and Soldier of the Year respectively, falling short of a win at the regional competition.
They competed against Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.
“These were the best Soldiers and NCOs throughout the seven state region so the competition was extreme,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader. “Sgt. Lipinski and Spc. Hicks did an outstanding job representing the state of Wisconsin, and I could not be any prouder at the effort they put forth throughout the entire competition.”
Over the course of four days, competitors had to complete 16 different events that tested them physically and mentally through various Soldier tasks. Events included the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, land navigation, a confidence course, a 12-mile ruck march, a written exam, and an appearance board.
“The Best Warrior Competition at any level is not an event that you can just go through the motions," Patrouille said. “It is an event that is structured to not give any Military Occupational Specialty a notable advantage and requires all competitors to get out of their comfort zone and prepare for all phases of the competition.”
Lipinski finished only three points away from being the runner up for the Region IV NCO of the Year.
“It really is just a reflection of the opportunities that I’ve had in the Guard,” Lipinski said. “I would not have made it this far without the training opportunities that I’ve gotten and the people that I know in the Wisconsin Guard, and it’s made me really proud to be able to go and represent my unit and my state and kind of show off the things that Wisconsin has offered me.”
She said the support from her unit, battalion, and state Wisconsin National Guard leadership, as well as from her peers, kept her motivated throughout the competition. She added that she also had a great time with the Soldiers from other states as they all went through the competition together.
Hicks agreed, adding that the competition helped him to build camaraderie with other National Guard members. As Soldiers reached the turnaround point for the ruck march, they cheered on and encouraged the other competitors to keep pushing on.
“It’s just like a big team building event while you’re still competing against one another,” Hicks said. “I think that overall makes everybody perform better and really show their potential.”
He said there are things he would’ve done differently if he could go back and do it again, but his mistakes during the competition taught him to be resilient and keep moving on throughout the events.
Both of Wisconsin’s competitors were able to bring back a wealth of new knowledge that they can share with their units and their peers. They both recommended that those who would like to compete in the future network with their peers to help with the knowledge and the resources necessary to prepare for the competition.
“Use the people around you to learn new skills and refine the things that you know,” Lipinski said. “There’s such a broad range of talents and skills in the Wisconsin National Guard that if you look around and ask around, there is someone within your ranks who can help you be successful.”
Sgt. Jacob Ellington of the Minnesota National Guard earned the title of NCO of the Year, and Spc. Henry Brucken of the Indiana National Guard was named the Soldier of the Year. They will advance to compete in the National Guard Bureau’s Best Warrior Competition in September.