Lejeune athlete competes in Ultimate HITT competition

23 Sep 2016 | Cpl. Mark Watola Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

This summer Marines across the globe competed in the preliminary High Intensity Tactical Training competition looking to be the best HITT Tactical Athlete at their installation. The top female and male athlete from each base earned the chance to move on the HITT Tactical Athlete Championship.

The competition was held on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California recently.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s top male athlete, Staff Sgt. Dennis Merritt, competed and won amongst Lejeune’s other top athletes on June 10 and travelled to Miramar for the championships.

"I’m excited to have the opportunity to compete," said Merritt, Marine Raider Regiment armory chief. "Athletically challenging myself has bettered all aspects of my life – mental outlook, physical capabilities and overall performance."

Merritt learned about the competition while attending a professional military education career course and was interested in participating.

"I’ve done other fitness competitions in the past and always have enjoyed myself," said Merritt. "As soon as I heard there was a HITT competition, I shifted my schedule to prioritize the preliminaries."

During preliminaries, Marines were tested on speed, endurance, agility and strength through various events such as a kettlebell burpee pyramid and the tactical shuttle, similar to a combat fitness test.

"A large majority of our careers focus on athletic ability," said Merritt. "We are athletes but we are not training for a big game; we are preparing for the physical and mental demands of war. We always need to be physically equipped to better accomplish the mission at a moment’s notice."

HITT keeps Marines mission ready but also helps bring out the competitive nature of Marines which ultimately drives them to better themselves.

"I’ve always been competitive and I enjoy the act of competing," said Merritt. "It’s rewarding to go out there, workout, test how far I can push my body and appreciate how my training has prepared me for the events."

HITT provides Marines physical training that directly correlates with their warfighting capabilities in addition to keeping them physically fit.

"(Merritt) was one of our top athletes," John Heger, Lejeune-New River HITT program coordinator. "He had the best cardio and muscular endurance; he was the best athlete we could send out there."

Marines who compete in the championship showcase their strength and endurance running.

"Marines are competitive and most are in remarkable shape," said Merritt. "The events in the competition add in the element of surprise to take one outside their comfort zone in the best way. Win or lose, it was still a fun, challenging workout and experience."