Willpower Guides Cadets Through Best Sapper Competition

Class of 2021 Cadets Collin Hahn and Griffin Hokanson would be the first to tell you West Point not only teaches you about honor, integrity, and the importance of selfless service, but also strengthens friendships and creates lifelong alliances.

Hahn and Hokanson learned about the importance of teamwork and the value of their friendship during the 14th annual LTG Robert B. Flowers Best Sapper Competition. The two cadets learned about their strengths and weaknesses in military operations but showcased their grit and perseverance while gunning for the top prize between May 1-4 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  

“When we competed in each lane, we didn't pace ourselves, and we didn’t conserve our energy. We went the full 100% as hard as we could on every lane,” Hokanson said. “When we got to the end of each lane, we were just running on fumes.” The duo represented the U.S. Military Academy as Team 49, going up against 49 teams across the Army and finishing in fifth place. They also took first place in two of the five major events: the non-standard fitness test and land navigation, fourth place in the Poncho Raft Swim and second place in the X-mile swim.

On day one of the competition, the cadets moved between 12 different events known as the ‘Round Robin phase,’ performing specific tasks that tested their physical endurance and combat engineer skills. The distance covered in between those events spanned 15 miles. Subsequently, the land navigation event began. Hahn and Hokanson covered 12 miles of cragged and hilly terrain during nightfall. The headlights mounted on their advance combat helmets lit their path as they reached all of their destination points on the map. 

Throughout the event, the two were feeling blisters forming around their feet. Hokanson felt patches of skin peeling with every hurried step he took. “My feet have never been this blistered before competing in this event,” Hokanson said. “When I removed my boots after land navigation, my feet were bloody.” At one point, Hahn and Hokanson had reached a destination point that sat on the top of a steep hill, and for the sake of time, Hahn ignored the pain and pushed forward. Read more.

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