Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
For the second year in a row, the Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, dominated the 7th annual Combat Center Challenge competition, returning the trophy to its place at the battalion’s headquarters May 11.
The challenge, sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services, consisted of 30 separate, physically demanding events conducted within a nine-day period.
“The Challenge has grown significantly since its first year,” said Charles Dougwillo, Semper Fit area coordinator, MCCS. “This year’s challenge we had nearly 1,500 participants compared to 500 the first year.”
The Challenge began May 1, when seven teams competed in a single elimination volleyball tournament at the East Gym and Fitness Center. Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School took an early lead, winning the tournament in the final match against 2/7 Weapons.
Throughout the competition, teams battled in events that would test their athletic abilities, as well as build their unit camaraderie.
“We’re in the field enough weeks out of the year, it’s important to build morale and make sure their home life and family life is good. Taking care of things and having fun is important,” said 1st Lt. James Collins, motor transport officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
Daily tournaments in water polo, paintball, dodge ball and basketball allowed teams to battle in familiar sports. New events and variations of common ones added to the excitement of this year’s challenge.
Bowling was added to the list of events this year, but not your standard bowling. Contestants were surprised to discover they would be required to use the dinosaur ramp, sit in a chair and use a pool stick to launch the ball down the lane. The variants were rotated through the line-up.
Most bowlers found the ramp to be the most challenging element added to bowling.
“It would not go straight,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew Colvin, machinist, 1st Tank Battalion. “We couldn’t figure it out.”
In a sudden death type bowl-off, one bowler each from Tanks and 2/7, threw a single ball to determine the tournament’s winner. Staff Sgt. Derrick Cantrell threw a strike securing a first place standing for 2/7. Tanks and Naval Hospital teams took second and third, respectively.
On the final day of competition at Felix Field, events like corn hole, jousting, and horseshoes were part of the Challenge, and events like human foosball, football toss and an inflatable obstacle course were set up to entertain contestants between competitions.
Teams continued to be neck-in-neck as they completed the Corpsman race and the Hummer Push, both won by 2/7.
Five teams competed in the final event, a double elimination Tug-of-War tournament, and would determine the final rankings for the lead teams.
“Pull! Pull! Pull!” was the enthusiastic chant heard throughout the field as spectators cheered for their favorite team. With one final tug of the rope in the last match against 3/11, the 2/7 team pulled the red flag across the line to victory.
The Combat Center Challenge trophy was presented to 2/7’s battalion commander Lt. Col. Donald Tomich by MCAGCC Commanding General, Brig. Gen. George W. Smith Jr.
Proud of the battalion’s victory, Tomich lead the unit in shouting the 2/7 motto, “Ready for all, yielding to none!”