TUPELO – Teams from Guntown Middle School and Tupelo High School won the national bridge building championships late Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky.
Tupelo also had two second-place finishes, as all four teams from Lee County that qualified for the competition finished either first or second.
The Guntown team of Luke Smith, Paslay Adkins and Brandon Dillard won the seventh- and eighth-grade division, while the Tupelo High team of Katerina Kushla, Jo Orrick and Kai Brieck won the ninth- and 10th-grade division.
“They did such an amazing job, and they have worked so hard and have improved so much from when they started and from the state competition,” said Stephanie Phillips, who sponsored the Guntown team. “It is a big accomplishment for them.”
The event is sponsored by the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials. Three teams qualified in each division – as well as in the 11th- and 12th-grade division – based on a portfolio they submitted describing how they made their balsa wood bridge. At the competition, they also were judged on their bridge’s strength-weight ratio and on a presentation they gave.
“It was something to see all the chief engineers standing up and applauding them and recognizing them for their achievements,” said Connie Gusmus, who sponsored the two THS teams.
The Tupelo Middle School team of Sarah Daniels, Abigail Grant and Victor Milev was second in the seventh- and eighth-grade division. Two of that team’s original members – Maria Kaltchenko and Sam Sliman – were unable to make the competition.
“They pulled together and were able to present a high-quality product and a high-quality presentation,” said sponsor Julia Smith.
Meanwhile, Tupelo High’s team of James Grant, Clayton Sewell and Luke Tucker was second in the ninth- and 10th-grade division.