Standing Out From the Crowd

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Sgt. Heather Finley, of 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, prepares to face the 104th Training Division Best Warrior Competition board as a competitor from the 104th’s 1st Brigade.

FORT KNOX, Ky. — On March 18, 13 competitors from across the 104th Training Division (Leader Training) arrived at Fort Knox for the 104th Training Division Best Warrior Competition. 

Amongst those 13 competitors, one stood out from her peers – not just for her competitive spirit and abilities to qualify her as a representative from her unit, but also as the only female competitor.

“I definitely saw it as an opportunity to not only better myself but as a way to represent my new unit and to be an example of what I think being a non-commissioned officer is,” said Sgt. Heather Finley with 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, 1st Brigade. “This is something I wanted to do myself first before I could ever ask my Soldiers to compete in something like this.”

The Best Warrior Competition consists of several challenges over a four-day period. Competitors are tested based on their mental and physical abilities through a series of events: a 60-question written test, Army Combat Fitness Test, individual weapons qualification on the M9 and M16, the rappel tower, obstacle course, and the Combat Water Survival Test.

Sgt. Heather Finley, of 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, from the 104th’s 1st Brigade tackles the rappel tower during the Best Warrior Competition.

“Being the only female competitor was definitely a challenge because of my stature and build but it motivated me to keep up and push forward with the rest of the competitors,” Finley said. “The rappel tower caught me by surprise because I had never gone down the tower with all of my gear on my back. I definitely felt that 45-pound ruck on the way down.”

Finley trained prior to the competition but her main focus was mental preparedness to excel on the written exam portion and going in front of the board.

“I want that award so I’ll be back next year,” she said. “I’ll definitely prepare more on the physical aspect moving forward because I definitely focused more on the mental preparedness this time around.”

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