Central Crossing High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students admit that being among the best in the world takes hard work.

Central Crossing High School Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students admit that being among the best in the world takes hard work.

Their instructor, retired Marine Sgt. Major Don Bocook, knows well the hard work needed to be the best.

He reminds his team at drill team practice almost every day.

"You can't miss a beat," Bocook said last Thursday. "You gotta glide."

He was silent a moment, watching his students follow a cadence as they marched.

"Keep it tight," he said. "You know what it takes."

Bocook and his students were preparing for the National High School Drill Team Championships that will take place May 1 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Success will take work.

"Where's the intensity?" Bocook demanded. "We need to practice it like we're going to do it next week. This is the national high school championships. Treat it as such."

The national championships are nothing new to Central Crossing High's JROTC students. Never have they been awarded less than 10th place, and third is the highest score they've achieved.

According to its Web site, the national competition is the largest and most well-recognized collection of JROTC drill teams assembled in a single weekend. The three branches of the military send their finest schools to compete in the weekend of military excellence.

Senior Caleb Long will command the team while on the field. This will be his last competition. He's been to three national high school championships.

"I'm not going to lie; it's a lot of work," said the 18-year-old. "I think we do it because of the reputation of the school."

Avery McConnell, a junior, joined the drill team after moving from a high school in Texas. He said he was a member of his former high school's Air Force JROTC drill team.

"I like it here a lot better," he said. "It's just a lot more friendly."

Senior Elizabeth Householder said the team spends a lot of time together traveling on buses to different competitions throughout the year, which contributes to the team's esprit de corps.

"We're always together every day," she said. "We're in close quarters all the time."

The students will be in close quarters all weekend. They expect two 18-hour bus rides while traveling to and from Daytona Beach.

They leave April 29 at 8 p.m. on a chartered bus to Florida, the students said.

They will train the following day and will be up and ready to compete by 7 a.m. May 1.

Long said they'll compete against 57 U.S. schools and others from military bases across the world.

Bocook said they'll be at the competition until 9 p.m.

May 2 will be what the students called a "free day," if it can be considered that.

On the free day, they wake up and dress in their running gear for a 6 a.m. run on the beach, while Bocook leads them in Marine songs.

They will watch the sun rise as they run along the beach for more than a mile.

"It's a beautiful sunrise," Householder said.

The students will return May 3.

Householder said Bocook is the motivating force behind the drill team's success.

"If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be going to Daytona," she said.

Senior Jessica Allen said she looks forward to the "satisfaction of the hard work paying off" after the competition.

This will be the seniors' last chance to show off their marching skills while in high school.

"We want to make it the best one that we can do," Long said.

For Andrew Diemer, the one freshman on the team, the work has only just begun.

And "it's a lot of work," he said.