- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - An Oshkosh soldier will compete at a regional competition in Minnesota that tests the physical and mental abilities of those in the nation’s Armed Forces.

Wisconsin Army National Guard Spc. Zack Warnke won the Guard’s three-day Best Warrior Competition this month, earning the title of State Soldier of the Year out of about 7,600 soldiers, according to the Oshkosh Northwestern Media (https://oshko.sh/1gXf5Zc).

“Overall, it was a lot of fun,” said Warnke, a member of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “It’s physically stressful; it’s mentally stressful; it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy that kind of thing.”

The annual event tests enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers’ core skills and knowledge in areas including military leadership and courtesy, said Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields.

Tasks include a 12-mile march with a 30-pound pack, a physical fitness test, firearm qualifications and land navigation.

Warnke, a 34-year-old Sheboygan-area native, will compete against seven other states in May at Camp Ripley, Minn.

For a National Guardsman to reach that level is quite an accomplishment because not only are they assessed at the same standard as regular, full-time Army soldiers, many also have full-time jobs, families and even attend school, Shields said.

Warnke is a full-time student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, pursuing a biology degree, with an emphasis in ecology. He also works part-time for Oshkosh Cyclery and Fitness.

“I’d say it’s a privilege and it’s an honor to be able to represent the 32nd Infantry and the state of Wisconsin,” Warnke said.

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Information from: Oshkosh Northwestern Media, https://www.thenorthwestern.com

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