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NCO and officer duo claims title of Best Ranger 2016

April 17, 2016 (Photo Credit: Courtesy: Ken Woods Photography)

After coming in second place two years in a row, Capt. Robert Killian and his partner, Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein, on Sunday were named the winners of the 2016 Best Ranger Competition.

The pair, representing the Army National Guard, earned the title of Best Ranger.

Killian, competing with different partners both times, came in second place in 2015 and 2014. In all, the Special Forces captain from the Colorado Guard and 2015 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship winner has competed five times in the Best Ranger Competition.

This year’s second-place team is 1st Sgt. David Floutier and Staff Sgt. Joshua Rolfes from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade.

In third place this year is a team from the Maneuver Center of Excellence — Capt. Michael Blanchard and Capt. Brian Slamkowski.

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First Sgt. David Floutier and Staff Sgt. Joshua Rolfes, of the AIrborne and Ranger Training Brigade, during the 2016 Best Ranger Competition.
Photo Credit: Courtesy: Ken Woods Photography

The top teams dominated the famously tough competition all weekend, leading the pack of 50 teams.

Just 23 teams made it to the final day of competition.

The annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition is a storied three-day event that pits two-man teams against each other in back-to-back events. The winning duo will earn the title of Best Ranger.

Competitors, who must be graduates of the Army Ranger School, are put through events that test their physical conditioning, Ranger skills and team strategies. The events are back-to-back and around the clock for 60 hours, allowing little time for rest and meals.

2016 Best Ranger Competition Day 2
Capt. Michael Blanchard and Capt. Brian Slamkowski, of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, during the 2016 Best Ranger Competition.
Photo Credit: Patrick A. Albright/Army

Events this weekend includes weapons firing, extended road marches, day and night land navigation courses, Ranger skills and parachute jumps. All events are timed, and competitors score points for each completed event. Both team members must complete each task.

The Best Ranger Competition was established in 1982 and has been compared to Ironman and Eco-Challenge competitions.

A formal awards ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at McGinnis-Wickam Hall in Fort Benning’s Marshall Auditorium.

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