Cadets continue tradition of running Army-Navy game ball 160 miles from West Point to South Philly

Tim Jimenez
December 13, 2019 - 11:17 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s become an Army-Navy game tradition: A group of cadets carry the game ball and run with it from West Point, New York, all the way to South Philadelphia. 

Along the 160-mile journey, members of the Army West Point Marathon Team stopped in Ringoes, New Jersey for an early-morning and much-deserved break.

Since 2005, Reagent Chemical on Route 202 has provided breakfast for the 16 cadets and their West Point support team.

“Everybody says we probably bring in enough food to feed an army, which is what we’re doing!” laughed Bob Dritschel, Reagent Chemical manager and organizer of the annual breakfast. “People bring in homemade baked goods and we go to the local businesses and put out a good breakfast spread for them, just for a nice rest break.”

Reagent Chemical employees got up early to cheer them on and thank the team.

“We just like to honor the cadets,” Dritschel added. “They’re putting in their time and service.”

The “midnight riders,” as they’re called, ran through a cold Thursday night, but Cadet Emily Danallo was pumped up — game ball in hand.

“This game is just the best college football game in the United States of America. The fans are all energetic,” she said. “Yeah, we’re rivals for four hours, but in reality, we all come together. You see the camaraderie between Army and Navy.”

Runner Ryan French said he’s honored to be able to deliver the game ball.

“Every year the ball is specially designed with the symbol of the unit we’re recognizing. This year, we’re doing 1st Cavalry, and so there are cross sabres on the football,” he explained. “That just adds to the experience.”

And it’s an experience he’ll never forget, as he nears the finish line of his time at West Point in the months ahead.

“Being able to be a part of this now, and then eventually graduating and being part of the larger Army as a whole, it’s absolutely amazing,” he said.

The team will arrive in Philadelphia Friday afternoon. They plan to leave the Rocky steps at 3:15 p.m., and anyone can join them for the last 5 miles to Lincoln Financial Field.

Putting the camaraderie and traditions aside briefly, Danallo couldn’t help but say, “We are gonna beat the heck out of Navy.”