KHS Takes Cowtown Trophy

By: Todd Martin
Killeen High School’s Junior ROTC competition team won the largest invitational drill meet in Texas for the second year in a row.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Crossley, director of Army instruction in Fort Worth ISD, made the trip to Killeen Wednesday to personally deliver the Cowtown Classic Invitation Drill Meet championship trophy.

With KHS cadets standing around him in the battalion’s air rifle range, Crossley put the victory in perspective and issued a challenge.

In the 21-year history of the Fort Worth drill event – the largest in Texas – only two schools have won back-to-back championships and no team has ever won three straight.

When he asked the cadets if they were interested in that challenge, they gave a loud vocal affirmative.

“You are our future leaders. We know you are going places,” said KHS Principal Susan Buckley, who received from Crossley a coin indicating her support for the successful JROTC unit.

Junior ROTC cadets, especially those who rise to leadership roles, are leaders throughout the school, Buckley said. “You are shining stars of Killeen High School.”

The Cowtown Classic, which attracted 43 high school units, tests a variety of skills, including armed and unarmed drill, marksmanship, color guard presentation, physical training and academic skills.

Retired Lt. Col. John Stanley, KHS JROTC senior instructor, said the scoring spreadsheet tells the tale of how the local battalion won its second championship.

They entered teams in every event and scored points consistently. One team in particular, the armed drill team, impressed Stanley. They are a relatively new team, but worked hard and won their event.

“All the students come together and work hard,” the senior instructor said. “The spreadsheet shows every team was consistent. That leads to championships.”

Student Battalion Commander Daniel Calderon Perez, a senior, said he was proud of his peers for earning the coveted championship trophy. “We’re leaving something special behind,” he said, explaining that the younger students would work toward a historic “three-peat.”

“We’re so proud of being back-to-back champions,” he said. “We were able to beat these guys again. We practice every day and at competition we get to show off how we’re doing.”

Student Adjunct Officer Jaren Queja is a junior looking to help lead the KHS team in its attempt next fall to win Cowtown three years in a row.

“We’ve won twice and we have so much determination to win another one,” Queja said. “This motivates all of our special teams. This was a good competition. We achieve so much together.”

The Fort Worth event took place in November. The unit’s formal inspection and then final exams put off the championship trophy ceremony. The achievement was worth celebrating, even months later.

Stanley used to take his rifle team to the event because it was one of the few marksmanship contests in the state. In 2009, he started taking a full team. “I never thought we would win it,” he said. Now, they’ve done it twice.

“We lost a lot of seniors and so we trained a new group,” Queja said. “It’s pretty astonishing we could do so well with a new group of leaders.”