By Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka

Nevada Army Guard

More than a dozen of the top National Guard Soldiers from across the West are set to converge in the central Nevada city of Hawthorne May 21-23 to determine the Best Warrior in Region 7 and advance to the Army Guard’s national Best Warrior competition this summer.

The overall Army Guard champion will earn one of just 22 spots in the All-Army 2019 Best Warrior Competition that will determine the Army’s Non-commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Year. The Best Warrior Competition is best described as a decathlon-type military event that includes physical fitness challenges, Soldier skills testing, written exams and board interviews.

Region 7 includes the states of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Colorado, California, and the territory of Guam. Each state and territory will have one entrant in the NCO and Soldier divisions with the exception of New Mexico, which has a lone athlete in the NCO category. Of note, one Airman, Airman 1st Class Caleb Drake of Utah, will compete as a guest but in ineligible for the Army Guard national meet, and one female Soldier, Staff Sgt. Kelly McLachlan of Colorado, is the lone female entrant.

Nevada’s entrants in the NCO and Soldier divisions, Sgt. Conor Czyzniejewski and Spc. Tyler Davis respectively, will both look to gain a home-state advantage in Hawthorne’s high-desert environment. Hawthorne, elevation 4,300 feet, also served as the site for the Nevada Guard’s state Best Warrior contest in March.

Czyzniejewski and Davis emerged as the Nevada Guard champions after defeating both their fellow Guard Soldiers and a contingent of Tongan Marines during the state competition. This year marked the first time Nevada’s State Partnership Program’s partner country – The Kingdom of Tonga – sent military personnel to compete in the Best Warrior contest.

According to training and operations Master Sgt. Cameron Anderson, the Region 7 contest will closely mirror the Nevada state competition.

On May 21, competitors will take the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test, be tested on their M-4 and M-9 marksmanship skills, conduct grenade qualifications and perform myriad military tasks and battle drills.

On May 22, competitors will conduct the Army Combat Fitness Test and complete a day and night land navigation course.

During the final day on May 23, the Soldiers will conduct a 12-mile ruck march and complete written tests, essays and oral boards. The winners of the competition will be announced that night at the Nevada Guard’s Officer of the Adjutant General in Carson City.

Most of the events will take place on the U.S. Army’s Hawthorne Army Depot’s training lands and ranges. It is the world’s largest ammunition storage depot, covering more than 147,000 acres of land. Hawthorne, population 3,200, is about 120 miles southeast of Reno.

The Nevada Guard’s Sgt. Grant Reimers is among the most successful Best Warriors in National Guard history. In 2017, he placed second in the All-Army Best Warrior contest after winning the National Guard competition.