JROTC Orienteers: How Do They Rank?

As you probably know JROTC Orienteering is a very big part of the Florida orienteering community. What is JROTC? It is a high school educational program. The JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and while the program has a military flavor it is not primarily designed to produce military recruits. They do seem to produce good and caring citizens.

The individual and team rankings for Florida JROTC orienteering are up-to-date and posted.

They include all Florida individuals including those competing in Area 8 and Area 12 JROTC events out of state.

Individual rankings include one’s best five events in the 2022-23 school year and one ‘wrap-around event’ that took place after last year’s Ranking results were concluded (FAM)

Team Rankings include the team’s best five results over the last 12 months. For instance at the end of January two events from Jan ’22 will be dropped and the three events in Jan ’23 will be added.

All the rankings – six classes for individuals and four for teams are posted to a single Google Sheet.



Another Year of Best Ever Orienteering is Winding Down

With one event to go, the Florida and Suncoast Orienteering seasons are getting ready for the Christmas Break.

When we consider that FLO had two events cancelled due to the preparation for and then the effects of Hurricane Ian perhaps it wasn’t the best year for everybody.

However, we have had large turnouts, both by the JROTC and the general public, at the 15 events the two clubs have hosted in 2022.  Three newly mapped areas were put into the competition circuit and considerable revisions were done for the other competition maps. Read on.

The 2022-23 JROTC Rankings for both individuals and teams have been brought up to date and with one event to go we have some very close competitions for the top spots shaping up. The JROTC cadets compete in six categories -male and female at the novice, intermediate and advanced level. Their teams are also ranked compared to how they do against the other teams in the competitions they attend.

Here is a brief explanation:

The winner of an individual competition gets 40 points and the rest who successfully complete the course get a reducing number of points down to a minimum of six. State and regional championships award a larger scale of points. A cadet’s best five ‘point totals’ throughout the year count for the final total. Each school year starts a new competition.

In the team rankings a team earns one point for being at the competition then one more point for each team in beats in that category. The first, second and third place teams earn 5-3-1 bonus points. Teams score their best five results over the last 12 months.  So we have the unusual situation of Lakewood Ranch not having a single cadet in the individual rankings for 2022-23 but they lead every one of the team rankings. How can they do that? Their best five results, all their results, came in the January to April period of 2022, enough to give them a solid lead.  But watch out in 2023. Come the end of January a couple of those results will fall off the chart and if they are not replaced by 2023 events….. well, you can figure out what will happen.

Would you like to look at the JROTC rankings? They are on-line at a google sheet with separate pages for the six individual and four team categories. See them here:



JROTC Rankings Updated Regularly

Rankings? What are Those?

In many sports creating ways to compare the athletes based on their competition results is a popular feature. When we read about Sports we are often reading stories about how certain teams or athletes have moved up or down in a sport’s Rankings.

Orienteering is no different. Our national level events are called NREs – National Ranking Events – and many of America’s top orienteers will build their schedule of events around where they can improve their standing in the Ranking points.

The Florida JROTC competitions have their own Rankings system. It is unofficial and does not return any awards to the top ranked JROTC orienteers but the Rankings do recognize achievement and it seems that is enough.

Why is there a Ranking system? By orienteering norms Florida JROTC competitions are large events. On some days there can be upwards of 100 entries in a single class. Only the top three to five will be recognized with medals. What about the rest? Shouldn’t those finishing ‘just off the podium’ have a chance to have that achievement noted. Shouldn’t the coaches and team leaders want to know and have a record of who is making progress through the ranks? I thought so. In 2014 I started experimenting with a Rankings and it has grown from there.

How does the Ranking system work?  Cadets earn points for their placing in each JROTC orienteering competition. Most events have 40 points for a win with a downward scale until we get to six points for every successful finish of a course. DQ’s. DNF’s and MP’s earn no points. Regional and State Championships earn points on a higher scale.

All Florida JROTC competitions are ranked and so are the results of Florida cadets going to competitions out of state.

The individual rankings are updated after each competition. The 2022-23 Rankings are posted here.



“Do Your Own Thing”

For many years the sport of orienteering has been about “self-chosen routes through unknown terrain”. Self as alone, done on your own.  Of course, if you are competing as a team such as in an adventure race or Rogaine the team can discuss their route choices. However, it is a strict rule in individual competitions that we are not to follow or seek any help from others.

Call it following. Call it cooperation. Call it collusion.  Whatever you call it, it is one of the worst problems in competitive orienteering. Two or more people get together to go around a course and they compare information when they are supposed to be moving on their own. It is grounds for a DQ if someone launches a complaint.

In Florida we are mostly pretty loosey-goosey about that.  Among our adult crowd we are generally not out to best anyone else. We just want to experience the thrill of finding things by way of reading that map.  Not so with the youth in the JROTC competitions. They are going for medals, trophies and ranking points.

In competitive orienteering the participants are meant to be moving on their own and making their own decisions. Naturally, they are going to see other participants while on their courses. Yes, it is fair game to keep an eye on the others but keep your distance. It is not fair game to follow and/or ask for advice and/or collude on a route choice.

Here is the funny thing about collusion: participants who get together to compare notes of where they are often end up actually losing time. One of them may get important information but the giver of the information has no way to get that time back.

Another dangerous thing about collusion is that one or both may become distracted from their intended route. For example, here attached are the split times for some orienteers on a Green course at a recent competition. I have removed the names. The names are not important. This could happen to anybody. In the lines of numbers, the first line for each person represents the cumulative time to each control. The second line is the time between controls.


Look at A. One took 3:14 to get to the second control. That was a good time but not the best. The other took 10 minutes allowing his teammate to catch up to him. We can see that they definitely ran together and ran well to control 9. One of them moved ahead of the eventual winner by two minutes at that point.  (Circles B). Then they seem to have lost concentration. Both lost concentration and they missed out two controls.

In competitive orienteering it is an unforgiving sport. There is no forgiveness for missed controls or punching at incorrect controls or punching out of order without correcting the order.

These two guys are good orienteers. I hope they learned an important lessons about running on their own and keeping concentration. Hard lessons learned for sure.

I hope all instructors and orienteering coaches can take this lesson and pass it on to their orienteers and urge them to  DO YOUR OWN THING!

Best regards,

Gord Hunter

Suncoast Orienteering


One Down, Eight to Go

The first event of the Suncoast Orienteering 2022-23 season is done. The participants, some 160 of them, have come, done their orienteering, the JROTC have picked up their medals and Eagle Lake Park in Largo is as clean as ever, if not cleaner.

The results have been posted and this old coach could not help but send what I hope are useful hints to the team leaders.

There were some competitive highlights for sure. We had a couple of international orienteers, Nick and Sarah-Jane Barrable, two British orienteers who now live, work and orienteer in Sweden. They are on a brief holiday in Florida and took advantage of the chance to experience our orienteering while also doing some trail runs and a half-marathon. And, oh yes, four-year-old daughter Lara said something about wanting to visit Disney castles.

On the JROTC side of the competition usual strong teams Central and Charlotte were again predominant with Admiral Farragut showing they are building on their strong start last year. South Sumter showed signs of a come-back coming as they won the Yellow Team prize.

With Eagle Lake in the books we have eight more events to come. Check the Suncoast Orienteering schedule and sign up where you want to go. Signing up in advance saves at least 33% off the ‘day of’ rate as well as earning additional ‘frequent orienteer’ discounts.

Gord Hunter

Suncoast Orienteering


Come to Eagle Lake Park on Saturday

The 2022-23 Suncoast Orienteering First Event is coming up Saturday November 5th at Eagle Lake Park in Largo.  That’s not Key Largo or Port Largo but just Largo, the city that is part of the St Petersburg/ Clearwater complex in Pinellas County.

Sign up and be there. You will not regret it. It is a gem of a park, wet and wild in parts, interlaced with trails and fields and boardwalks, fenced dog parks and kiddie parks. Enjoy a navigating run in the park and then stay for a picnic afterwards.

And you will have a chance to meet Nick Barrable and Sarah Jane Gaffney, two of the best known and most travelled orienteers in the world.  Nick is the managing editor of CompassSport, the leading English language orienteering publication in the world. They were at the very first orienteering event I staged in Florida, the 2012 state championships and a long-distance orienteering race called the Bubba Goat, held the next day, both at Lake Louisa State Park. I’m particularly encouraged that they have decided to come back this way. They say it is not just because 5-year-old daughter Lara is insisting on some Disney castle time.

Back to Eagle Lake. The thing I like about this park is that with all the trails, fence lines and other features to use as ‘handrails’ you can almost put the compass aside and navigate just by reading the map and relating it to the terrain. I think you will like it, too.

Remember to sign up in advance so you can take advantage of the lower price and have your map there ready and waiting for you. Sign up at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1X1SF0ccd4SoFq3SwMkAxQ409YE45IZSuLkzS9wR-tv0/edit#gid=0

I’ll look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Gord Hunter

Sarah-Jane Gaffney and Nick Barrable display their medals at the 2012 FLO orienteering championships (Lake Louisa State Park)

An advance look at the orienteering map of Eagle Lake Park.


Canoe Orienteering Comes To Florida

October 21, 2022, by Gord Hunter

Edward Medard Park

Adventure racers do it all the time, but this will be the first all-canoe/kayak/SUP (stand-up paddleboard) orienteering event for Suncoast Orienteering.

It has taken some time to find the perfect venue. Edward Medard Park, just south of Plant City, is a gem of a park. Part land, part lakes, Medard Park is what is left when the phosphate miners move out and nature reasserts control (with the help of some great county planning).

On Saturday, January 29, 2023, we will be holding our first orienteering event at Medard. It will feature the regular JROTC competition and a three-course (yellow, orange & green) public “foot orienteering”, as well. But wait, there’s more …

At the same time in the same park, we will have a non-motorized watercraft score-orienteering event. Participants will use an orienteering map to navigate to checkpoints, called controls, and gain proof of being there by taking a photo or copying down the special code symbol. Leaving the watercraft is not allowed by the park authorities.

After finishing the “water-O” event, participants will be welcome to try one of the “foot-O” courses for a reduced price of $5. Do the double events and make it your own adventure race. Challenge your friends! Enjoy the day!

See 2022-23 Open Entries for Suncoast Orienteering Events to provide your entry details.


How To Pick Route Choices

October 20, 2022, by Gord Hunter

There are scads of videos on the web that describe how the best of the best orienteers run their courses. However, in this one, a 12-year-old relatively new orienteer describes how she ran her course, while her dad offers advice to help reinforce her decision-making.

You don’t have to be an expert to use the tools of orienteering – route choice, linear features (hand rails), attack points, collecting features, etc. Start seeing your course through Hanna’s eyes and you will start to “get” this sport.


Guest Course Setters

October 17 2022, by Gord Hunter

Usually behind the scenes and way before an orienteering event occurs a key event official gets to work.  The person responsible for designing the competition courses starts looking over the map and assessing where control points might be placed. Somewhat like a painter planning the layout of a canvas or an architect designing a building the orienteering course setter wants to get all the pieces in the right places.

When the participants come to our events it is the course setter’s responsibility to provide them with navigation challenges right for their ability and with route choice options that will create decision-making challenges along with the distance test of the course. Someone choosing to go on a novice-level Yellow course will not get the same distance or navigation challenges that someone on the Advanced-level Green or Blue courses will face. That would be like tossing a non-swimmer into the deep end of a pool.

Just as in the worlds of art and architecture where some are considered better than others, so it is with orienteering course setting. For the 2022-23 season, Suncoast Orienteering has reached out to some of the best, most experienced course setters in North America for their advice on course setting for our events. Four have agreed to give up some (perhaps a lot) of their time to design courses. In each case, we expect their advice will be over the Internet and involve the important initial design on the computer. Wish we could afford to bring them all in for field checking but nonetheless, I am thrilled that they have agreed to the initial course design and follow-up revisions from a distance. At least two of our guests have experience orienteering in Florida.

Mike Minium of Cincinnati has been involved in orienteering at all levels since as long as there has been an orienteering club in southwestern Ohio. He has set courses for events up to the Nationals and from Sprints to long distances. Mike is one of the few IOF event advisors in North America.  Mike coaches the orienteering team at Union County (Indiana) High School and Middle School, the 2022 National Champion team for Middle School.  He has been the amazing director of Orienteering Cincinnati’s Flying Pig National Event annually (except 2020 and 2021 due to COVID) since 1996. As busy as he is, Mike will be the guest course setter for the Dec 3rd event at Elinor Klapp Phipps Park in Tallahassee.

Charlie Shabazian has been a sparkplug for orienteering development in Chicagoland and Wisconsin where he founded the Badgers OC. When you start a club you do it all until you can bring in others to share the load and you teach those others as you go.  Charlie will be lending his experience to the courses for Alafia River State Park on Feb 18th

Stefan Bergstrom started orienteering course setting as a teenager in his native Sweden where he was the course setter for two major events in the early 1980s , one national event in the Stockholm area and once for the Stockholm district relay championships. He also set courses for many smaller club events. In Canada he course set for the 2010 Canadian Middle distance Championships and many local events. He was the controller for the NAOC2014 in Ottawa, and Event Advisor for the NAOC2016 in New Hampshire, and of course the World Games 2022.

Jonathan Campbell, currently living in the Boston area, learned his orienteering, both as a competitor and event leader at the US Military Academy at West Point. As Jon and wife Tori, also a West Point graduate, have moved to different postings around the US an uptick in the quality of orienteering has followed wherever they have gone. Most recently our older orienteers were raving about the job Jonathan did as course setter for the 2022 US Masters Nationals in Connecticut. Jonathan has agreed to be the guest course setter for the State JROTC orienteering championships being held on March 25th at the Holder Mine area near Inverness.

I know you will enjoy the experience of benefitting from our guest course setters.

Using Route Gadget or LiveLox

October 3, 2022, by Gord Hunter

That was a close one … I assume if you are reading here you are a fan of Orienteering. I hope you also are or will become a fan of Route Gadget or Livelox or both. These programs allow the viewer to see the tracks of orienteers on the course on the map they used in a real competition. They can track themselves with a cell phone app (Livelox) or with either program they can upload their GPS track or manually draw in their route. Both programs/ apps also give the time each competitor took for the course and to each control point.
Mostly I like these programs because they reliably show me where I went and what were the consequences of my route choices, where I gained time, and where I lost time. They show everyone that for themselves and for everyone else in the race.

For those working with juniors, they are a great way to play back the competitions and teach, teach, teach.

Why am I telling you this?

I have two clubmates in Ottawa, Canada that I have known both for many years. Stefan Bergstrom (M65) I have known since he and his young family moved to the Ottawa area in the 1980s but we first competed in the same event in the O’Ringen in Sweden in 1972 when I was aspiring to be on the Canadian team and Stefan was a promising junior and already a noted course-setter with his Swedish club. Cherie Revells (F 45) as a top Canadian junior would load, with her parents and brothers, into the family station wagon and travel from New Brunswick to events across Canada.

Now Cherie and Stefan participate on the same courses in local and national events. They are usually within two to three minutes of each other. But last Sunday at a local Ottawa event the difference was three seconds. Three seconds!! Both loaded their tracks to Route Gadget. So, I had to select their icons to race head-to-head. What a competition! They traded the lead and ended up apart by three seconds!

People say there is no spectator appeal to orienteering because it is done out of sight in the forests and at timed intervals but put the Cherie icon up against the Stefan icon and we have a race!

And that’s just one example. It happens with every event tracked on Route Gadget and Livelox.

Want to see it? Click Route Gadget … on the right sidebar menu choose “class/course”, select “Adv Short”. Then select “GPS Revells Cherie” and “GPS Bergstrom Stefan”, and any other asterick you may wish to see. Then “Load Animation”. When the Start, Stop, Pause, etc. buttons appear, press “Start”, and then sit back and watch the action unfold.

Select “Short Advanced” and click on the GPS routes for Cherie Revells and Stefan Bergstrom. (Cherie’s GPS took a little time to get settled but once it did they were off to the races.) Who won? Well, you will know that. But who was in the lead at most controls? Were they ever tied? They had lots of route differences? Which routes would have been your choices?

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