CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Recognition Day is the day where freshmen start preparing for their sophomore year, but first, they had to complete the Gauntlet.

Flipping tires, swinging ropes and many other grueling exercises; this is the Gauntlet. It’s a tradition where freshmen, or “knobs” as they’re called at The Citadel, start preparing for their sophomore year.

“Today is the final challenge of the Fourth-Class System,” South Carolina Corps of Cadets commandant Col. Tom Gordon said. “The class of 2026 matriculated back in August and that’s when the Fourth-Class System began. It’s been a series of long and arduous days, and this is the final event.”

Citadel leaders say the strenuous finale is meant to bring the class closer together, and be acknowledged by their peers.

“This event signifies to the corps,” Gordon said, “that they are now going to be recognized; they will now be accepted. They have earned the respect and trust of their classmates, of their cadre and of the alumni.”

Eric Wilson Jr., who is now a senior at The Citadel, endured this intense hour-long workout three years ago. He says the Gauntlet is both a tremendous physical and mental challenge.

“At first,” Wilson said, “you’re very energetic, you have a lot of energy that you’re just waiting to release. But once you get into that second station and that third station, you really start to feel all of the wear and tear of all these exercises hit you. And at that point, that’s when it becomes a mental battle.”

But, he says if knobs push through that mental and physical strain, they come out stronger and more prepared to impact the world.

“What we’re doing here really impacts not just what The Citadel does,” Wilson said, “but what the world does. After The Citadel, the experiences you have here transcend your character, transcend your honor, transcend your entire being. So, when people leave here after going through the experiences here, it makes the world a better place.”

Now that the class of 2026 has completed the Gauntlet, they are no longer knobs. And on Saturday, the class will participate in the “March to Marion Square” to celebrate Corps Day.