4 | February 16, 2017 | The frankfort station News frankfortstation.com Griffins finish first in three competitions East tops armed events at Central Air Force JROTC meet Frank Gogola Freelance Reporter Lincoln-Way Central senior Vincent Senese wasn’t going to let his final home invite go by without displaying the skill he had been working on since his junior year. Senese wowed the crowd, fellow competitors and judges when he closed out his armed solo routine by performing with a rifle and a saber simultaneously for the first time ever in competition. “This being my home meet, I had to give it my absolute all because you’re representing your school at your own school,” said Senese, the lone solo or duet competitor to use a saber. “You have to bring your best. That’s what I intended on doing.” His performance was one of two event victories for Central, which earned its first first-place finish of the season at the four-team South- West Suburban Conference invite Feb. 6 in New Lenox. Central, a combined team of students from Central and Lincoln-Way West, led all teams with 6,342 points. Lincoln-Way East was right behind at 6,322 and Lockport placed third with 5,893 points. This was the final tune-up before the SWSC championship meet in a season that has been a learning process for both the instructors and the teams. There were originally eight SWSC teams, but that number dropped from six last year to four this season. The teams now have only two regular-season conference invites instead of four. The championship meet had “It’s all about teamwork, precision and concentration.” Sgt. Dale Steen — East’s JROTC instructor, on what makes a successful team included points earned during the conference season, but this year’s champion will be decided by who is the best at the one-day event. The SWSC championship meet will be Feb. 25 at Bolingbrook. “It’s a totally different ballgame,” said Maj. Steve Brown, Lockport’s JROTC instructor. “You used to come to each school, accumulate points to make a difference. Now, it’s getting your teams experience and comfortable with routines to be razor sharp for that one day.” “We treat these meets as competitive practices for the conference championship,” said retired Col. George Ramey, Central’s JROTC instructor. “Through all of these events, the JROTC drills develop unity, teamwork and discipline.” The varsity teams compete in nine events: unarmed infantry drill regulation (IDR), armed IDR, unarmed exhibition, armed exhibition, color guard, inspection, unarmed duet, armed solo and armed duet. In armed events, competitors use approved performance weapons, mainly rifles. In IDR events, competitors all perform the same specific routine, while teams in exhibitions get to create their own routines. The SWSC decided not to host armed inspection and Lincoln-Way East’s Armed Infantry Drill Regulation (IDR) team (left to right) Gus Morales, James Ingram and Tim Lutz perform Feb. 6 during a meet at Lincoln-Way Central. Photos by Adam Jomant/22nd Century Media unarmed color guard this year. It did add unarmed duet after Joliet Central and Joliet West left the conference, because the four remaining teams are all Air Force JROTC programs. “We’re doing that because since we’re all Air Force and want to get to (AFJROTC) Nationals, and we don’t want to have a separate set of SWSC rules and sequences,” Ramey said. Having all AFJROTC teams streamlines the scoring because each service branch drills, marches and executes commands differently. “It’s all about teamwork, precision and concentration,” said Sgt. Dale Steen, East’s JROTC instructor. Senese highlighted Central’s first-place finish by winning the armed solo Please see JROTC, 5 Lincoln-Way East’s Armed IDR team won the Feb. 6 drill meet.
frankfortstation.com News the frankfort station | February 16, 2017 | 5 JROTC From Page 4 event. His 727 points were 21 more than second-place Kenny Smith (706) from East. Senese closed his routine by switching a rifle and saber between hands while simultaneously spinning the mixed weapons around his body near chest level. “The real trick is the weight difference,” Senese said. “One of the main benefits I have is I’m ambidextrous, so I have separate control over each arm. Being able to use that to determine which hand has the lighter object and also the different balance points. The saber balance point is closer to the handle. The rifle is in the exact middle. You have to determine how you’re going to throw it before you even get it into your hand.” “Whenever I think I’ve finally seen it all with him, he steps it up another level,” Ramey said. Central also won the color guard event. The Knights placed second in armed infantry drill regulation, unarmed exhibition, unarmed IDR and inspection. They took third place in armed exhibition. Chris Kuczero and Matt Butler were third in armed duet with 599 points, finishing 82 points behind second-place Lockport (681) and 27 points ahead of fourth-place Bolingbrook (572). The unarmed duet of senior Maddy Willson and Jade Espinoza was fourth in the event with 547 points. It finished 36 points behind thirdplace East (583). East senior cadet colonels Tim Lutz and Kenny Smith highlighted the Griffins’ three first-place finishes, the most by any team at the invite. Lutz and Smith overcame a pair of rifle drops to win the armed duet by 5 points over Lockport seniors Noah Frandsen and Antonio Lange. They went directly after Senese put his rifle and saber performance on display. “Watching that, and trying to go up against that, it’s difficult to keep to nerves down because everybody’s expecting you to be that good,” Smith said. “It definitely wasn’t our best performance,” Lutz added. The duo agreed it was the most difficult routine of the four they had performed this season. Even with the drops, they plan to up the difficulty for the conference championship meet. “We have a couple things to add to up the difficulty, polish up a few things,” Lutz said. “Just work on that difficulty, bring something new (and) unexpected to each competition to give us the edge.” “We’ve been trying to amp it up every time,” Smith added. The Griffins also won the armed exhibition and armed infantry drill regulation. Smith placed second in armed solo with 706 points. He finished 21 points behind first-place Senese (727) and 12 points ahead of thirdplace Edgar Cana (694) of Lockport. East took third in unarmed infantry drill regulation and unarmed duet. It was fourth in color guard, unarmed exhibition and inspection. For Lockport, junior Edgar Cana finished in third place in armed solo in what appeared to be the most competitive event of the day. His 694 points were 12 behind East senior cadet colonel Kenny Smith, who was second with 706 points. “I don’t think he deserved to be third place,” said Brown, the Lockport JROTC instructor. “He should have finished in a higher place. I know the scoring is subjective, but he operates at national-level speed. … This is my 18th year (coaching), and his is the toughest routine I’ve The four Air Force JROTC teams fill Lincoln-Way Central’s gymnasium for the awards ceremony. JROTC students learn leadership and skills pertinent to their line of service. Lincoln-Way East’s Armed Exhibition team reports in prior to performing their routine. The team would go on to win the meet. seen by one of my guys.” Cana’s highlights included blind catches and flips behind his back, although a drop did hurt him. Central’s Senese, who won the event, praised Cana, who won armed solo at last year’s Air Force Junior ROTC National Drill Competition. “I have to congratulate my friend Edgar Cana from Lockport. I’m surprised he didn’t place higher. He did absolutely phenomenal,” Senese said. In other events, Lockport won the unarmed IDR and inspection. The Porters took second in color guard. The armed duet on seniors Noah Frandsen and Antonio Lange, and the unarmed duet of Patrick Mc- Mahon and Lange were both second. “This was their (Frandsen and Lange’s) first competition of the season because they had been helping freshmen,” Brown said. “They had a few rusty moves, but I have no doubt they’ll be ready for conference.” Lockport placed third in armed IDR and unarmed exhibition, and did not compete in armed exhibition. 1 ST JOB • MARRIAGE • DIVORCE • FAMILY WHO SAID BUSINESS ISN’T PERSONAL? TRUST BOB SPYCHALSKI to help you with your most personal business: YOUR HOME! Bob Spychalski, A Name You Can Trust 630-728-8490 • www.spysold.com RETIREMENT • ESTATE • JOB TRANSFER