The morning sky is darker than usual; the air is blowing a cool breeze while heavy clouds create sporadic downpours to announce the first day of fall.

The wet weather was the first condition greeting the competitors of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Best Medic Competition at Fort Bragg, Sept. 24.

The annual competition tests medics across the division and prepares them to compete in the Army Best Medic Competition.

Five medics began the day with a Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment and then showed their abilities to do their job under extreme stress in a situational training exercise at the Medical Simulation Training Center. They continued with an obstacle course, a land navigation course and a 12-mile ruck march.

The conditions of the competition were set to emulate tasks and drills, physical and academic, that combat medics apply on real world missions.

Sgt. Maj. Carl Youngs, the division’s chief medical noncommissioned officer, and noncommissioned officer in charge of the competition, said he wanted this year’s training and competition to mirror the events that the competitors will encounter during the Army-wide competition at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“We definitely got a lot of repetitions and a lot of time to just focus fully on the competition,” said Sgt. Roberto Sanchez, a medic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div.

Sanchez and Sgt. John Reilly, a medic assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div., were recognized as the division’s top medics at a ceremony held Oct. 5.

“It’s very humbling (and) awesome to just go out and compete with my peers,” said Sanchez. “It was a great and challenging experience.”

Sanchez and Riley will continue to train for the next three weeks, just as they have since July. They will represent the 82nd Abn Div. and compete in the Army Best Medic Competition scheduled for Oct. 28 to 30.

“What division and Army competitions do is prepare a vast majority of medics to train and compete,” said Youngs. “Overall there are hundreds of medics who will work to get to the final competition, but as a whole we are creating a lot of good medics Army-wide.”