Lemoore High School's NJROTC team headed to Navy Nationals

LEMOORE, Calif.

The students are members of Lemoore High School's Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. From April 13-15, they'll be in Pensacola, Florida to compete against 25 other teams in the 'National Academic, Athlete and Drill Competition.'

"I think we're really ready," said junior team member Jessica Yang. "We've been practicing so hard since the beginning of the year and I think we're going to place in the top 15, maybe even more."

Normally, the students would be spending this week with their family and friends away from campus. Instead, they chose to meet on school grounds to train from 8a.m. to 3p.m. and polish their routines.

"That's what we're doing now is just really working on precision and just cleaning it up," said Armed Drill Team Commander, Conlee Gonzales.

The students will compete in 10 different events including the Color Guard, Armed and Unarmed Drill Team and Athletic and Academic Competitions.

"The competition is really fierce," said Yang. "It's really hard. There's many different schools that we've heard of and we watch videos of them every day."

This is the third time the school has been selected to compete in the tournament. It also took part in 2006 and 2008. It qualified, this year, in February after winning first place at the Regional Superbowl in Southern California.

"The teams that are competing, they are the best in the nation," said Naval Science Instructor, Raymond Vigil. "It's close to 700 total units nationwide. They compete at a Regional Competition to select the best teams from the region. The best from each region then goes to Pensacola for the Nationals."

Vigil says the team will get a special send off. A week from Wednesday, the United States Navy will fly the cadets from Naval Air Station Lemoore to the competition in Florida.

"Some of our kids have never flown so this is their first time and they're all happy and excited," said Vigil.

Excited to compete for a chance at the top spot, but if they don't all come home winners, the students said they will have learned valuable life lessons they can take with them long after high school.

"You learn integrity, citizenship, leadership. Every little asset you need to benefit you in the future," said Gonzales.

"It taught me a lot of discipline, a lot of paying attention to detail," added Yang. "And I learned a lot of leadership qualities."

Lemoore High School is one of three teams from California competing in the two-day tournament. They'll be joined by schools in Nevada, Texas, Ohio and several other states.

Many of the team members have more than a 3.5 grade point average, one girl completed more than 350 sit-ups at the Regional Competition.

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