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Supermileage team takes second, third in state

WILLMAR -- Willmar's Supermileage Challenge team brought home trophies and plaques from the state competition in Brainerd earlier this month.

The team placed second in the stock class and third in the modified class in the competition on the track at Brainerd International Raceway.

The shiny Cardinal red cars were built by a team of 10 students, under the direction of teacher/adviser Mike Kroeker.

The students' task is to build the small, lightweight cars to obtain the highest mileage possible, Kroeker said.

Willmar's stock car averaged 382 mpg over six runs and had a top run of 450 mpg. The modified car had a six-run average of 481 mph and a top run of 519 mpg.

Team members Josh and Ed Gesch, both 18-year-old seniors from Willmar, said the team had a good trip to Brainerd.

"It was just a great experience seeing our cars out there," Josh said.

The reward for him "was seeing the actual car out on the track," Ed said, and after that he didn't worry too much about where the team finished in the competition.

The students were full of praise for Kroeker and the Tech Challenge class at Willmar Senior High.

"Thanks to this class, I chose my career," Josh said. "I'm going into mechanical engineering." He and his brother Ed plan to study at Northwest Technical Institute in Eagan next fall.

"This class is probably one of the best classes anybody can take if they want to be an engi-neer," Ed said. "It gives you a chance to create something before you go to college."

The work of building a project makes the numbers and angles on a drawing mean a lot more, he added. He plans to go into aerospace engineering and hopes to work at Lockheed Martin someday.

"We learned so much," Josh said. "So much more than I thought I would learn; in this class, you apply everything. ... This class helps you see how it all fits together."

Josh summed up his feelings about tech challenge: "This class is priceless."

--Linda Vanderwerf