HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Soldiers from the Mississippi and Arizona National Guard won this year's premier Army National Guard Competition, known as the National Best Warrior Competition.
Staff Sgt. Mitchell Scofield, Mississippi National Guard, and Cpl. Daniel D'Ippolito, Arizona National Guard, were named the Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Best Warrior Winners 2020, respectively.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Ortiz, New York National Guard, and Spc. Jakob Ellingson, Minnesota National Guard, were the Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier runner-ups in the competition.
The winners were announced Sept. 16 during an awards ceremony at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.
Scofield and D'Ippolito were both selected by their peers to receive the Best Warrior Ultimate Teammate Award for exceptional sportsmanship and exemplary comradery for the four-day competition, which included 20 challenging events incorporating military skills proficiency in categories such as marksmanship, physical fitness, land navigation, and combat lifesaver medical skills.
Asked how he prepared for the competition, D'lppolito said: "I want to go in and knock it out of the park, and I want to make everybody proud. I want to represent the National Guard well and I want to represent the state and my family."
Scofield described how he felt about winning.
"I never would have imagined it in a million years," Scofield said. "I just wanted to, No. 1, for my family to be proud of me for what I do and, No. 2, represent the 154th RTI (Regiment Regional Training Institute) and the state of Mississippi to make them proud as well."
The National Best Warrior Competition recognizes Soldiers who personify the warrior ethos, live by the Army values, and represent the future warfighter. Fourteen of the nation's best Army National Guard warriors, of the approximately 335,000 Guard Soldiers eligible to compete, battled the clock, their peers, the weather and simulated enemy forces.
The events tested each competitor's knowledge, technical and tactical skills, physical endurance, mental toughness and overall combat readiness.
The competitors had diverse experience and backgrounds, including leadership and experience in military professions such as infantrymen, cannon crewmember, transportation specialist, combat medic, engineer specialist, military police, satellite communications operator, chemical specialist and cavalry scout. They have traveled around the globe, including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Kuwait, and showcased those experiences in their quest for the coveted Best Warrior title.
States represented in the national competition by regional winners included Texas, North Dakota, Arizona, New York, Maryland, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Nevada.
The events were held at Camp Shelby Joint Force Training Center in Hattiesburg and Camp McCain Training Center in Grenada.
"It has been an incredible honor for the MSARNG to host this year's Army National Guard 2020 National Best Warrior Competition," said Cmd. Sgt. Maj. John T. Raines III, senior enlisted advisor for the Mississippi National Guard. "What you have seen over the past week was the culmination of a few years' worth of planning and rehearsals by the entire MSARNG team."
The winners advance to the virtual All-Army Best Warrior Competition to compete against all components of the Army – active, reserve and National Guard – later this year.
Next year's Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition will be hosted by the Arizona National Guard. In 2022, the Tennessee National Guard will host the event.