300 compete in JROTC Bad to the Bone

Gainesville High School's JROTC Navy team member Danielle Thomas pulls herself through the one of the rope obstacles with two of her 5 member teammates climbing the rope wall behind her Saturday during the 2013 JROTC Bad-to-the-Bone event . More than 200 students from nine high schools from Marion, Alachua and Levy counties competed in the 2013 JROTC Bad-to-the-Bone event Saturday morning, April 13, 2013 in Ocala, FL. JROTC cadets ran in teams of 5 through the obstacle course at the SWAT course at the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner
Published: Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 5:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 5:35 p.m.

David Bhrs admits he was shaking a bit from nerves as he prepared to rappel down an 80-foot tower at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office complex on Saturday.

“It was kind of scary, but it was awesome once I did it,” said Bhrs, a member of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Eastside High School.

Bhrs and nearly 300 other high school students competed during the 2013 JROTC Bad to the Bone event. The competition featured high school teams from Marion, Alachua and Levy counties vying against each other in physical events and over obstacle courses.

“There are no individual events. This is all team events to help build that camaraderie and instill teamwork,” said Marion sheriff’s Maj. Jerry Craig, who helped organize the event.

There were boys, girls and co-ed teams included in the event.

Paola Zarate, a junior at Forest High School in Ocala, was competing for the second year.

“I was really nervous last year, but it was actually a lot of fun. I love the teamwork that goes into it. Your teammates definitely don’t let you down. They are always there,” said Zarate, who hopes to join the U.S. Air Force and aspires to become a pilot.

Bhrs, a sophomore at Eastside, said he hopes to join the U.S. Navy and become a Seabee diver.

This was the third year the Marion Sheriff’s Office hosted the event.

“We (the Marion County Sheriff’s Office) have been going to the international SWAT competition for 20-some years and we started hosting an event here five or six years ago,” said Craig, adding that the course built for that competition and training sparked interest.

“We had such an outcry from the local high schools wanting to do something like that here, we put together the JROTC Bad to the Bone,” he said.

In addition to going over the SWAT obstacle course and down the rappelling tower, the competition also featured an agility portion, push-up and pull-up tests and a tug-of-war.

Organizers hope to keep growing the event to include more high schools from the area.

“We have nine high schools. Next year, we want to grow by five or six more schools, maybe up to 20 schools. It’s great for all the JROTC. It’s a great opportunity for high school students to interact with local law enforcement and other JROTC cadets,” said Steve Davis, commander of the Vanguard High School JROTC in Ocala.

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