Oshkosh soldier earns spot at regional competition

Spc. Zackary Warnke with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, crosses the finish line in the two-mile run event during the Army Physical Fitness Test during the 2014 State Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy, April 11, 2014.
Spc. Zackary Warnke with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, crosses the finish line in the two-mile run event during the Army Physical Fitness Test during the 2014 State Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy, April 11, 2014. (Mobile Public Affairs Detachment photo by Staff Sgt. Megan Leuck)

OSHKOSH (AP) – An Oshkosh soldier will compete at a regional competition in Minnesota that tests the physical and mental abilities of those in the nation’s Armed Forces.

Wisconsin Army National Guard Spc. Zack Warnke won the Guard’s three-day Best Warrior Competition this month, earning the title of State Soldier of the Year out of about 7,600 soldiers, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern Media.

“Overall, it was a lot of fun,” said Warnke, a member of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “It’s physically stressful; it’s mentally stressful; it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy that kind of thing.”

The annual event tests enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers’ core skills and knowledge in areas including military leadership and courtesy, said Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields.

Tasks include a 12-mile march with a 30-pound pack, a physical fitness test, firearm qualifications and land navigation.

Warnke, a 34-year-old Sheboygan-area native, will compete against seven other states in May at Camp Ripley, Minn.

For a National Guardsman to reach that level is quite an accomplishment because not only are they assessed at the same standard as regular, full-time Army soldiers, many also have full-time jobs, families and even attend school, Shields said.

Warnke is a full-time student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, pursuing a biology degree, with an emphasis in ecology. He also works part-time for Oshkosh Cyclery and Fitness.

“I’d say it’s a privilege and it’s an honor to be able to represent the 32nd Infantry and the state of Wisconsin,” Warnke said.

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