UI student named Iowa National Guard Soldier of the Year

Trejahn Manning, a University of Iowa first-year, has been named the Iowa National Guard Soldier of the Year for his performance in the guard’s annual Best Warrior Competition.



Cooper Worth, News Reporter

First-year University of Iowa student Trejahn Manning was named the Iowa National Guard Soldier of the Year for his performance in the guard’s annual Best Warrior Competition.

The competition consisted of various events: The army physical fitness test, weapons qualification, drill, ceremony, an obstacle course, a 12-mile march while carrying a 35-pound rucksack, and several other events.

Manning, 19, is from Des Moines and is a medical specialist in the army representing Company C, 334th Brigade Support Battalion. He was one of 24 soldiers competing in the event held earlier this month at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa.

After the completion of the competition, total scores were tallied, and Manning was recognized with the highest score.

To qualify for the state-level competition, soldiers first had to compete and win at the battalion level. Of the approximately 7,000 soldiers in the Iowa Army National Guard, less than 1 percent qualify for the Iowa Best Warrior Competition, according to an Iowa National Guard press release.

As a UI student studying psychology and pre-med, Manning said he had been training for the competition since January. He said having more experienced members of his battalion assist him during his training was the most important thing.

“From the top enlisted person in my battalion, my command sergeant major, to my squad leader, who just wanted to make sure that I was as prepared as possible,” he said.

Manning said events like the Army combat fitness test and the obstacle course was not so challenging to him, but events like the stress shoot, where competitors are tested on their ability to fire a weapon under extreme conditions, were more difficult.

“Shooting is not difficult, but when you’re doing it when you’re tired and start to breathe hard, and all the fundamentals that you have started to decrease,” he said.

Manning said it’s validating to be recognized with this award after having tough competition against his fellow soldiers.

“To be able to win, man, it was kind of emotional just letting me know all my training paid off,” he said. “There wasn’t a situation where I was overconfident in thinking that it was just going to come easy.”

Sgt. Zach Zielstorf, Manning’s squad leader, said he wasn’t surprised that Manning won because he knew how hard he trained for the competition.

“It was something that I knew meant a lot to him, and he really killed it. He is an outstanding individual and he should make the state of Iowa really proud,” Zielstorf said.

Manning will now move on to the Regional Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley in Minnesota in May.

Zielstorf said he will continue to help Manning with his training for the event.

“I’ll be there all the way,” he said. “We all have our weak points, and even he does, and that’s what we got to work on.”

Manning said it would be wild if he won regionals.

“There are a lot of people that have been helping me along the way, so it would be fulfilling to thank them for believing in me,” he said. “Your time, your energy, your everything wasn’t in vain.”

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