Shiprock JROTC wins back-to-back state titles


While most visit Shiprock’s Chieftain Pit for basketball, Larissa Clah always looked for the color guards.

She enjoyed the games, but not as much watching the young men and women of Shiprock High’s Marine Corps JROTC carrying the flags onto the floor.

“I mainly used to go to games to see my sisters perform for color guard. That interested me,” Clah said. “I wondered why they wore uniforms, and why they did this and that. I used to see them (her sisters) with their uniforms in their rooms, hanging up. I was, like, ‘When is it my turn to do that?’”

A couple of years later, Clah not only earned a JROTC uniform but won back-to-back Class A-5A JROTC state championships with her teammates. The JROTC team earned their second consecutive state title on April 7 in Albuquerque. They defeated Grants, who came in second, and Bloomfield, who finished third.

The team competed in four different categories: armed drill, unarmed, marksmanship, and physical fitness.

They placed in the top three positions in three events and took first in physical fitness.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Ira Harris, Shiprock’s Marine Corps JROTC assistant Marine instructor, said the first-place finish was a pleasant surprise considering the team is fairly young.

“It’s been a very interesting year for us,” he said. “Winning the state title this year was totally unexpected. I kind of consider ourselves in the rebuild phase … those freshmen this year they stepped up, and I’m very proud of them because of that.”

The team, led by Harris and Senior Marine Instructor Sgt. Maj. Leonard Maldonado, lost most senior leadership to graduation last year and gained about 50 freshmen.

Just over 100 joined the JROTC team but the number was narrowed down to a solid 73.

Part of the incoming freshman class included Alijah Peshlakai who joined the unarmed team. She said her father participated in JROTC when he was in high school and is her inspiration.

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Categories: Basketball

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.