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WHS JROTC Drill Teams Dominate at Nationals

Photo of Phantoms Drill Team May 3-5, Waller High School (WHS) JROTC Drill Teams competed in the National High School Drill Team Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. The WHS Drill Teams are made up of the all-girls Unarmed Phantoms Team and the boys Armed Warhawks Team. At Nationals, the teams compete in the Challenger Division and are judged in four events: inspection, regulation, color guard, and exhibition.

In preparation for Nationals, the drill teams dedicated a majority of their time to practice. The teams held three-hour practices in the fall semester and three-hour daily practices in the spring semester. Three Saturdays a month they participated in all-day competitions or practice.

“I am so proud of what these teams were able to accomplish,” Master Sergeant Joel Barnett said. “They started in August and literally practiced every weekday and competed most weekends in preparation for this event.”

The Phantoms have competed in the Unarmed National Championships the past two years. In 2017, they were the National Champions in Exhibition. This year they were named Overall National Champion after competing against 32 teams. This is the first year the Warhawks have competed as an Armed Drill Team. Against 31 teams, the Warhawks were awarded third place Overall.

“This is easily the top highlight of my career as an instructor/teacher,” Lieutenant Colonel Byrl Engel said. “I have not been so proud of a couple teams since being in Iraq on active duty.”

The team commanders were also awarded Commander Trophies for their leadership. Phantoms Flight Commander Cadet Lizabeth Wences claimed the first place Overall Commander Trophy. Wences has led the Phantoms for the past three years and has earned third place Commander Trophies for the past two years. Warhawks Flight Commander Cadet Logan Robertson took home the second place Commander Trophy. Robertson showed superior leadership in motivating his team and pulling everyone to work Photo of Warhawks Drill Team together throughout the year.

“It was great to see Cadet Wences and the seniors finally win the Championship. We felt that we had let it slip away a couple years ago, so it was great to finally see them win it all,” Master Sergeant Barnett said. “I can’t say enough about the Warhawks and their Flight Commander Robertson. He approached me in August and was very confident that he could have a team that could compete at the national level.”

Master Sergeant Barnett and Lieutenant Colonel Engel plan to continue to work with the drill teams and help them achieve excellence. Due to the teams’ outstanding performances they will be required to compete at the Master Level next year instead of the Challenge Level. The Master Level is exclusively for the finest Armed and Unarmed drill teams in the country.

“Our goal is to continue to stress hard work and dedication; not just for drill but how it positively impacts your focus in all walks of life,” Engel said.

“I have the same goal as always, take those who are willing to work hard and compete at the highest level,” Barnett said. “Watching them win trophies is always great but seeing the cadets grow into young adults is the most important part of my job. It's my hope that after they graduate they will look back on their JROTC experience and remember the lessons learned.”


  • Overall: Phantom (National Champions) and Warhawks (third)
  • Inspection: Phantom (first) and Warhawks (third)
  • Regulation: Phantom (second) and Warhawks (fourth)
  • Exhibition: Phantom (second) and Warhawks (11th)
  • Color Guard: Phantom (third) and Warhawks (ninth)
  • Commander Trophy: Lizabeth Wences (first) and Logan Robertson (second)