MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Five Edgren High School JROTC members will make history next month when they head to the States to match wits with the smartest cadets in the nation.

It’s the first time an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps team from a Department of Defense Dependents School has qualified for The College Options Foundation’s Air Force Academic Bowl, held this year from April 24 to 26 at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington.

Retired Lt. Col. Ted M. Ball, Edgren’s JROTC director, called the honor a "pretty big milestone." He said team members battled through two online rounds to earn the selection. Only 12 teams were invited worldwide out of the roughly 250 teams that tried out, he said.

They were tested on current events, leadership skills, math, science and English.

Each team must have one first-year cadet, two second-year cadets and two third-year cadets. Misawa’s team is comprised of Scott Cronin, Xavier Major, Paul Steiger, Larry Schneck and Michael Warden.

Ball explained that he looked at his cadets’ grade point averages, talked to their teachers and gave quizzes prior to picking his team.

Cronin, 15, knows why they were picked.

"I think that all of us are smart," he joked during an interview at the school Friday. As a team, he said, "we are able to get to the answers quickly."

Cronin, who was also selected to attend an aviation and technology honors camp program at the University of New Mexico this summer, thinks the fact that his team was selected is a good thing for DODDS.

"It kind of reflects on the academic training we received," he said.

Schneck, 16, had to choose between the all-expense paid JRTOC bowl or the DODDS Far East Band concert competition. He chose the trip to the States.

"I’m pretty confident we have what it takes to win," he said. He also stressed that they worked "well together as a team."

Warden, 15, is excited about the trip back to the States, but also feels a bit nervous.

Ball said the competition will put the kids face-to-face against the top JROTC cadets. When questions are asked, the first team to ring the buzzer gets a shot at answering.

Each member of the winning team will earn at $5,000 scholarship.

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