Owensboro Innovation Academy’s Cybersecurity recently placed 15th out of 65 teams in the National Technology Student Association competition in Dallas, Texas.
Incoming juniors Luke Wellman and Gunny Howard said the competitions were capture-the-flag-based matches. Prior to nationals, they placed first in the state competition.
The competition was new to both players but they said they competed in a similar match called CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
While 15th in the nation was a feat, both think going into their junior season, they can accomplish much higher.
“We could see the teams that were higher than us were juniors and seniors,” Howard said. “There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement that we could have. It’s definitely apparent that we might be able to get top 10, maybe even top three.”
The students said in the off-season they will practiced and work at the school to get an extra leg up on the competition when October rolls around.
“We use a lot of open-source platforms, try hacking and stuff ,just to get used to what these problems are going to be like,” Wellman said. “We do this on our own time. We have a cybersecurity class at Innovation Academy which helps us get recognized for these problems.”
Coach Logan Walker said that the team is looking forward to October for their first meet with CyberPatriot. There they compete in the open field against other high schools in various competition styles.
Some of the competitions that Walker mentioned are individual, like parts of the regionals tournament where Howard and Wellman placed first and second place, respectively.