SANDY HOOK – Cadets from the drill team of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) took first place overall at Manchester High School’s recent Pearl Harbor Day drill competition. The Sandy Hook-based school competed against cadets from 12 other NJROTC units from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware in eight events, including academics, athletics, uniform inspection and precision marching.MAST placed first in Armed Platoon (commanded by Cadet Liam Kile of Tinton Falls), New Cadet Color Guard (commanded by Cadet Zachary Mansfield of Monmouth Beach), and Academics (commanded by Cadet Caroline Davidson of Brielle); second in New Cadet Basic (commanded by Cadet William Hurley of Monmouth Beach), Unarmed Platoon (commanded by Cadet Emily Fuller of Brielle), Varsity Color Guard (commanded by Cadet Jake O’Donnell of Tinton Falls) and Personnel Inspection (commanded by Cadet Shane McCutcheon of Manasquan); and third in Athletics (commanded by Cadet Liam Hoagland of Colts Neck).“The cadets really went above and beyond preparing for this meet,” said retired Navy Commander Tracie Smith-Yeoman, MAST’s Senior Naval Science Instructor. Students attending MAST are required to be active members of the NJROTC program during their high school years, but there is no requirement for military service after graduation. The program focuses on citizenship development and leadership.Cadets from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology Navy Junior ROTC drill team took home three firsts, four seconds and a third on their way to an overall first place finish at the Pearl Harbor Day drill competition at Manchester High School.Smith-Yeoman commended the cadets for their dedication. “Since we don’t have an indoor facility here on the Hook that’s large enough for drill practice, the cadets must practice outside in all kinds of weather,” she said.“We also don’t have late buses like many other schools, so the parents must arrange for transportation for the cadets when they finish after-school practice,” explained Smith-Yeoman. Many of the cadets live quite a distance away from the school, so the support of family and friends is integral to the program’s success. “This win belongs to the entire MAST family,” she said.Colts Neck High School’s NJROTC unit, headed by retired Marine Corps Major Gregory Penczak, took third place at the event. Atlantic City High School took second place.MAST’s next competition will be at Linden High School’s Martin Luther King Jr. meet on Jan. 15. They are hoping to qualify for the 2018 NJROTC Nationals Academic, Athletic & Drill Championship in Pensacola, Florida in April.This article was first published in the Jan. 4-11, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.