CITRUS PARK, Fla. — Leticia Daubar sat very straight in her chair.
“I like to give 110 percent,” she said.
You could say she gave 118.
That’s the total number of push-ups the Gaither High School senior completed at the 2019 National Junior ROTC competition in Pensacola, Fla. in early April. Her total bested the second-place finisher by 28.
Her performance was a big reason why Gaither finally has its hands on some coveted hardware.
“We’ll definitely find a nice place for it,” said fellow senior Jason Dodson, looking at the national championship trophy.
The Gaither JROTC earned national championship honors April 5-6 during the nationwide competition. The cadets have competed on the national stage in five of the past six years but had never finished higher than third.
The big win means a great deal to the students.
“Coming from freshman year, placing 12th in the nation to first is like a weight lifted off our shoulders because of all of the hard work and the hours we’ve put in paid off and it resulted in a big win,” said Daubar.
The competition featured over 600 JROTC programs from around the nation. Gaither’s team – made up of 16 students – averaged 71 push-ups and 203 sit-ups. Gerardo Ramirez did 319.
“They will be national champions forever and nobody can take that away,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jim Stauffer, who teaches the JROTC program at Gaither. “There are over 600 units in America at various high schools in the country, so to be on top of that group is very impressive.”
Multiple cadets won individual awards for athletics and academics as well. The competition spanned two days. The cadets were out of town for five days, completed a seven-hour drive to get to the Air Station at Pensacola, and stayed at the Navy Lodge.
Academics - 1st Place (National Champion)
Team Push - Ups: 1st Place (National Champion)
Team Curl-Ups: 2nd Place (National Runner-Up)
Overall Team Athletics: 2nd Place (National Runner-Up)
Gaither had 49 cadets attend and 50 parent supporters.
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