Sgt. Grant Reimers, a heavy vehicle driver with 1859th Light-Medium Transportation Company, Nevada National Guard, catches his breath after the 13.1-mile ruck march through Itasca State Park, Minn., for the 2017 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition on July 20, 2017. The soldiers completed a grueling three days of military skill, strength and endurance events prior to the ruck march. (Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. Sebastian Nemec)

Sgt. Grant Reimers, a heavy vehicle driver with 1859th Light-Medium Transportation Company, Nevada National Guard, catches his breath after the 13.1-mile ruck march through Itasca State Park, Minn., for the 2017 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition on July 20, 2017. The soldiers completed a grueling three days of military skill, strength and endurance events prior to the ruck march. (Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. Sebastian Nemec)

This elite Lake Stevens athlete competes in combat boots

LAKE STEVENS — Sgt. Grant Reimers, of Lake Stevens, was named the Army Guard’s Soldier of the Year after winning the 2017 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition.

The Best Warrior Competition was a three-day marathon of mental and physical trials. Fourteen soldiers and noncommissioned officers competed this year at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.

“Honestly, I couldn’t really believe it,” Reimers said in a National Guard story. “Throughout the competition, talking with some of the other guys, the competition was really steep. I had no idea I was going to win it.”

Reimers, 22, bested six other soldiers and will now move on to the 2017 Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition, scheduled for October.

The National Guard win, in July, came after Reimers won an eight-state regional Warrior competition in May, among other local wins before that.

Parents Martin and Kay Reimers spoke to The Herald from their Marysville home late last month about their son’s achievements.

“We’re just incredibly proud of him,” Martin Reimers said. “When he puts his mind to it, he’s pretty much going to do it. He’s always been focused on things that matter to him. It’s been fun to watch this.”

The couple were able to catch a live video feed of the latest announcement from their respective offices. Kay Reimers cheered and broke into tears; a client was happy to wait.

While a shock to see him win time and again, it’s not a surprise, Kay Reimers said. “He’s a competitor. As a kid, he didn’t like to lose games. He’s grown into the humility of that.”

Swimming for the Vikings helped him grow and learn not to give up. A 2013 graduate of Lake Stevens High School, Reimers swam at three state meets and also competed in track.

He works now as a heavy vehicle driver with the Nevada National Guard’s 1859th Light-Medium Transport Company.

He joined the National Guard to help pay for his studies at the University of Nevada in Reno, the city where his parents grew up and where he was born. He expects to graduate from the university this winter with a degree in business administration. Between studies and the Guard, he gets in some quality hunting and skiing.

For now, though, he’ll be taking a semester off to train for the next Warrior competition. He’s being sent to Georgia for training before the events in Virginia.

He says he has a lot of training to do.

The competitions aim to push soldiers to their limits. In the latest competition, one day had Reimers running for “about 20 hours, moving constantly.”

Events also included hitting targets with a variety of weapons, an obstacle course, calling in artillery fire, performing medical tasks, a 13-mile ruck march, a nighttime land navigation course, and numerous other events.

“You just don’t get the opportunity to train like that, especially for me being a truck driver,” Reimers said in the Guard story.

One event had competitors run an unknown distance while encountering numerous tactical challenges along the way.

“My knees hurt and there was so much weight with the (body armor) and the Kevlar (helmet) and I was like, ‘Man, this pretty much sucks,’” he said.

The experience drew the competitors closer.

“It’s really great when you can all embrace the suck together,” Reimers said. “It just helps all around embracing just how hard these events are. You can laugh and joke and get over it that way.”

Back home, the Reimers recall service being important to their son since first grade, the year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He came out of basic training for the Army National Guard “with a different perspective on life.” In between the May and July competitions, he earned the rank of sergeant.

“He’s soaking it up,” she said.

So are his family and friends who are cheering him on from a distance, including an older sister, Kelsey, who works in Redmond.

“I don’t know how more proud you could be,” his mother said.

Melissa Slager: mslager@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3432.

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