Eleven days after running in the state track and field meet in Bloomington and helping set a school record in the 4×800 relay, Abby Voss departed for basic training.
While everyone at Seymour High School knew of her athletic achievements, nobody at Fort Jackson in South Carolina had heard of the Seymour native.
It didn’t take long for the Indiana National Guard recruit to make an impression and rise to the top of her field.
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The 2018 alumnus not only recently finished at the top of her company for the Physical Fitness Test, but she also was recognized as the best overall soldier with the Advanced Individual Training’s honor graduate award.
The PFT is a three-event physical performance test. Recruits are required to do two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a timed two-mile run.
In her company, which was around 300, Voss scored first overall among men and women.
She did 98 push-ups, 86 sit-ups and ran a 12-minute, 13-second two-mile for a score of 384.
“She crushed it,” said Specialist Justin Stuart, an Indiana Army National Guard recruiter in Seymour. “The highest score is a 300, which everyone strives for. People usually get in the 180 to 280 range. She scored in the 370s in basic, and then at the AIT, she broke her record and got a 384. That is one of the highest scores ever. It’s unheard of.
“We’ve had people in the Guard exceed the score, but nobody as high as her, especially females. She went past the max on the male test.”
Stuart knew Voss was capable of putting up big numbers.
“It didn’t surprise me because she had just made it to state. She is our golden child,” he said. “She is my third recruit and is just killing it.”
Voss said she didn’t do any additional physical training between high school graduation and basic.
“Overall, I’m just pretty active,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to be there. There was a medical issue, so I didn’t think I would be shipped to basic. That is when I realized that I really wanted to do it. I told myself I would work hard. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it.”
Voss credited Seymour High School swimming and diving coach Dave Boggs and cross-country and track and field coach Spencer Sunbury for having her physically fit.
“Running and swimming helped me a lot,” Voss said. “Especially swimming, which gave me the shoulders for push-ups. I didn’t get tired as easily as other people. I feel like that really helped a lot.”
At graduation, Voss led the soldier’s creed in front of the entire battalion.
“I didn’t know I was going to get an award,” she said. “We were practicing for graduation, and I was leading our platoon. I was the platoon guide, and some people were yelling my name, and they told me I was getting an award. I was really surprised. My parents got to sit in the VIP section, but I wanted to surprise them, so they sat to the side. At graduation, I got to start off the soldier’s creed in front of everyone.”
In AIT, Voss was at the top of her class for finance. That, paired with her skills in physical fitness, rifling and decision-making, awarded her honor grad status.
“All through AIT, people asked if I was the soldier’s creed girl,” Voss said. “I was the platoon guide, and toward the end in the last month, I was a student first sergeant. I was in charge of the company instead of the platoon.”
A platoon guide, which is the training version of a platoon sergeant, is in charge of making decisions on an hour-by-hour basis in basic training. She was in charge of all four groups of 70 in AIT.
Now back in Seymour, Voss said she’s glad she decided to join the Guard.
“All of that got me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I’m really shy, but I wanted to do it. I’m glad they put me in those positions. I feel like I’m now more confident and a better leader.”
Stuart said Voss has made the Guard proud.
“She proved she knew what a solider should know. Then she showed she was the best at what she did,” he said.
Voss will now attend Purdue University and study nursing. She said she is considering ROTC but will likely enlist.
“The big thing we pitch to people her age is that we have the best health insurance and pay 100 percent of her school and pay her while she is in school,” Stuart said. “She also got on-the-job finance training and life skills.”