2024 AF JROTC Orienteering Nationals Event Recap

February 24-25, 2024

Thanks to Gord Hunter (SOAR) for this recap of the 2024 Air Force JROTC Orienteering Championships

The 2024 AFJROTC Orienteering Nationals have come and gone. Most reports I have heard judge it to be a success. I’ll take their word for it as I was too personally involved to offer an impartial opinion.

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By the numbers we had just under 100 AFJROTC cadets from nine schools in five states participating. The smallest school team was one cadet from a school in Texas. The largest school team, a team from Florida, had 29 entries.

The presence of the event prompted two schools in Florida and one in Maryland to start participating in local events. The others were already doing so.

The event attracted the attention of the local tourism authority which agreed to donate to Suncoast Orienteering a set amount of money for each room-night booked in their county. The tourism authority is called Florida’s Sports Coast. How appropriate!

The host hotel sold out for the nights of the AFJROTC championships and were very happy with the crowd and the deportment of the cadets.

For Saturday evening entertainment Suncoast Orienteering offered a taste of night orienteering for the participants. One hiccup occurred when the local park authority would not give us an exception to the rule of ‘no stakes in the ground, no postings of any kind. No problem. Eight leaders, family supporters were recruited to act as control stands and hold the markers and SI boxes. The event was low-key and social. No winners were declared but each team got a printout of their split times.

Who won the Orienteering Nationals?

Team Trophies:

  • Gr 9/ Freshmen: 1) West Nassau 2) Citrus 3) River Ridge all from Florida
  • JV: 1) West Nassau (FL) 2) Etowah (GA) 3 Citrus (FL)
  • Varsity: 1) Etowah (GA) 2) West Nassau (FL) 3) Waller (TX)
  • Overall: 1) West Nassau (FL) 2) Etowah (GA) 3) Citrus (FL)

Individually gold medals went to:

  • Varsity Male: Connor Lawlor, Etowah (GA)
  • Varsity Female: Annabella Chavez, Waller (TX) who on Day 2 won by an incredible 19 minutes
  • JV Male: Shelton Fine, West Nassau (FL), a 24-second victory over Justus Francis of Wekiva (FL)
  • JV Female: Faith Harris, Crest (NC), a four second victory over Kira Stroschein of West Nassau (FL)
  • Gr 9 Male: Nello Humphrey, West Nassau (FL)
  • Gr 9 Female: Gabby Pottinger, West Nassau (FL)

The list of people to thank would be long but here goes:

Mark Berlinger and his staff for permission to hold the event at Starkey Park and for getting the park ready to receive us.

Blaik Mathews of Florida Orienteering for getting out of a sickbed to come time our event and provide the popular Livelox service.

Kayla Getz of Florida’s Sports Coast for helping us in so many ways.

Krista Simone of New Port Richey’s Comfort Inn and Suites who made sure our visitors were housed and comfortable.

The staff at the Comfort Inn breakfast who did their best trying to keep up with dozens of hungry teenagers

Mike and Nicolas Engestrom for help setting out and picking up controls as well as helping register and launch or public entries.

Former JROTC Champ. Robert Weller who showed up to orienteer but also ended up picking up a lot of distant controls from the Saturday competition.

Rob Haddow of Ottawa, Canada a snowbird orienteer who stepped up to check control locations and make course suggestions.

The booster clubs of Suwannee HS JROTC (Saturday) and Citrus HS (Sunday) who provided food and drinks for all. Thank you, parents and volunteers.

And finally, Wayne Barron of the AFJROTC national headquarters who accepted an idea from a complete stranger, put faith in the idea that we could make a better attended AFJROTC Orienteering Nationals at a better price for the participants than could happen elsewhere (and we still made money doing it). Wayne provided communication support and ideas for the event. His office also chipped in a prize for the winning Overall team.

Gord Hunter
Suncoast Orienteering
Event Director