Twenty teams from all over the eastern region, including Michigan, Canada, and Oklahoma, faced off in tasks such as climbing a 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses, and rescuing a life-sized, 175lb. opponent against the clock.
Under the direction of Coach Bob Decker, Captain/Shift Training Officer with MFRD, Captain/Shift Inspector Brian Lowe and Firefighters Ray Robinson, Matthew Young, Josh Parsons, Chad Davis, and Kevin Leonard (alternate) participated in the male team relay.
Brian Lowe detailed the event, "Young started it off by ascending the tower and completing the hose pull. Parsons descended the steps (hitting every step) and then handed the baton to me (Lowe). I hammered the keiser sled the required distance and then handed the baton back to Parsons. Parsons made his way through the serpentine to pass the baton to Robinson, who had the job of advancing a hose line and spraying water. Once Robinson pulled the hose line and hit his target, he passed the baton to Davis for the final leg, 100' of dragging 'Rescue Randy.'"
The MFRD team ran their seeding round against a fire brigade team from Michigan. It did not take long for the Palisades Fire Brigade team to defeat MFRD. After a two second penalty, MFRD earned a time of 1:42 and a 15th seed.
In the first round, MFRD was matched against the "hometown favorite" Lexington Fire. MFRD was able to complete a mistake-free run for the first single elimination run. They managed to pull out a victory with a time of 1:29 and moved on to the next round.
In the "Sweet Sixteen," MFRD was matched against a tough team from Evansville, IN who had already taken home several individual awards. "Evansville secured a first round by posting a time of 1:17 in the seeding run which earned them a 2 seed," said Lowe. "We eliminated them with a run of 1:27 and moved on to the Elite 8."
Montgomery County, KY (Team Tony Clayton) put a stop to MFRD's "out of the gate" dream season by crossing the finish line just a half a second ahead.
MFRD's team, though they fell short of victory, were not disheartened. Coach Bob Decker stated, "We did exactly what we came here to do. We knew from the get-go that this was our first time to compete. We weren't naïve, thinking we would win our first time. We wanted to learn and at least be competitive." Decker went on to say, "We did just that...we learned a lot and we were very competitive." According to Decker, even the announcers were stunned at how much the MFRD team held their own.
"I am very proud of our Combat Challenge team members," said Chief Cumbey Gaines. "To place as high as they did at that level of competition considering this was their first time, proves that this department can compete among the best in national events and that you are only limited by your desire and determination."
Ashley McDonald, Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue