Iowa Schools Sweep First Three Places in 35th Annual USD Programming Contest

First Place Winners First place winners from Trinity Christian High School in Hull, Iowa.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The team from Trinity Christian High School of Hull, Iowa, won the 35th Annual Programming Contest at the University of South Dakota April 8, followed by teams from Western Christian High School of Hull, Iowa, and Odebolt-Arthur & Battle Creek-Ida Grove of Ida Grove, Iowa.

The competition featured 36 teams from 21 high schools in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

“The event came down to a dramatic and exciting moment when the robot from Team No. 1, Trinity Christian High School, raced down the maze to the exit gate in the fastest time of 119 seconds,” said QuocNam Tran, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science.

The juniors and seniors from the top 11 teams qualified for USD housing scholarships if the students are accepted at USD in the future. Each housing scholarship covers half the cost of a year in a residence hall, approximately $2,000, and can be renewed for a second year.

For the first time in this year’s contest the participating teams each built a robot from a kit and then programmed it to negotiate a table-top maze. The teams were allowed 10 minutes to send the computer through the maze as many times as they wished. Each run was timed, and the team with the shortest run time was declared the winner.

In addition to the housing scholarships the first three teams each won a trophy and electronic gear.

The contest is sponsored by the USD Department of Computer Science, the College of Arts & Sciences and the USD Office of Admissions.

Here are the results for all the teams that qualified for USD housing scholarships:
1st Place: Trinity Christian High School, Hull, Iowa; Ryan Kroese, Justin King and Ethan Brummel.
2nd Place: Western Christian High School, Hull, Iowa; Jordan Walhof.
3rd Place: Odebolt-Arthur & Battle Creek-Ida Grove, Ida Grove, Iowa; Trey Rohlk, Amanda Gundersen and Gabe Malcom.
4th Place: 3-way Tie:
Central Lyon High School, Rock Rapids, Iowa; Mitch Haselhoff, Jacob VanVeldhuizen and Michael Stillson.
Lincoln Southeast High School, Lincoln, Neb.; Brennan Roberson, Cody Peterson and Brandon Warren.
Trinity Christian High School, Hull, Iowa; Collin Heynen, Dillon Brummel and Jeremy Baker.
5th Place: O’Gorman High School, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Jack Donovan, Thomas Simon and Daniel Sathyanesan.
6th Place: Tie:
Mitchell Christian, Mitchell, S.D.; Levi Knight, Cody Gromer and Luke Knutson.
Lincoln Southeast High School, Lincoln, Neb.; Alec Schneider, Easton Bornemeier and Yuzhao Shen.
7th Place: Tie:
Belle Fourche High School, Belle Fourche, S.D.; Sam Queen, Haley Carbajal and Alexander Kiley.
North High School, Sioux City, Iowa; Diego Castaneda, Kimberly Knuth and Casey Strong.

Download team photos:
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place


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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Michael Ewald
USD News