BKW Finds Way to Championship

Altamont Enterprise, April 12, 2001

By Tim Matteson

BERNE - There was a recent move at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School. The trophy case in the main lobby has a new addition. A huge silver cup won by the Orienteering Club had to fit in the case. The club won the Chesapeake Challenge United States Interscholastic Championships. The event was held on March 31 and April 1 at the Elk Neck State Park in Maryland.

The trophy was finally set in place and takes up a lot of space in the case. "The best part is that they had to move all those basketball trophies to make room for our trophy," Orienteer Sean Wolfe said. It was a nice move on BKW's part. Last year's champions were from a school in North Carolina, which would not allow their trophy to be placed in the school's case, Coach Sue Hawkes-Teeter said. The members of the BKW club are Marty Hawkes-Teeter, Kris Geist, Sarah Domermuth, Wolfe, Jack Norray, and Ashley Willsey. The competition allowed kids in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades to compete in the middle school division.

In orienteering, an individual has a map and a compass and tries to find flags, or control points, that are set up in a wooded area. The flags are represented on the map as a circle with a number in it. The competitors have to find the flags in the correct order and in the fastest time. The orienteers punch a hole at the control point, and when they have been to all the points, they run back to try to beat the other competitors. Individual times are recorded and the judges make sure the control points are found in the right order.

At the Interscholastic championships, times from the top three finishers on a team are added up from both days of the competition to determine a team champion. The Bulldogs entered five members in the competition, even though only the top three scorers counted. The team did this just in case one of the orienteers went out of order or times were slower. However, that did not happen. All the Bulldogs completed the course in order. Even Willsey, who was an alternate, finished a different course.

The top three finishers on the first day were - Hawkes-Teeter, Wolfe, and Norray. Hawkes-Teeter, Geist, and Wolfe were the top three on the second day. Three of the BKW team members finished in the top 10. "I'm really proud of them," Sue Hawkes-Teeter said. "I'm happy they all finished."

The team was in second place after the first day of the competition. They trailed by 24 minutes. A team from a school outside of New York City had the lead after the first day. However, that team had only three competitors and one of them went out of order when searching for the control points. BKW came back to win the championship. They finished 21:54 ahead of the second-place team, Fork Union Military Academy Middle School of Virginia. "We were down after the first day, but we did well an the second day and we knew we could win," Geist said.

The team has a combination of experienced orienteers and newcomers to the sport. Marty Hawkes-Teeter and Norray have a lot of experience. Both have been involved with the club. Marty's parents are also veteran orienteers. His mother is the team's coach and his father, Philip, is the president of the Empire Orienteering Club, of which the BKW team is a member. Wolfe and Willsey both have a little experience in orienteering, as does Geist. The member with the least experience is Domermuth. She started this year. "The kids are skilled or are getting skills," said Sue Hawkes-Teeter.

Most of the team is good at the sport, but some members have their weak spots. "Running is the hardest part" Willsey said. "Reading the map was the hardest for me; I can run," Domermuth added. Domermuth, a ninth-grader, is on the varsity cross-country, track, and basketball teams at BKW. Most of the team members play other sports or do other activities. Practice time for orienteering must be scheduled around other interests. But the orienteers say it's worth juggling their schedules.

"I enjoy it a lot. I've been around to different meets across the country," said Marty Hawkes-Teeter, who was wearing a black shirt Tuesday that said U.S. Orienteering. He helped with training the less-experienced team members. He followed them around while they found control points during practices. All the kids on the team said they were excited about winning. They also said that the trip was a great experience and a lot of fun.

Domermuth and Norray are the only orienteers who cannot compete in the competition next year. They both will tenth-graders. The rest of the team members will be ninth graders.

"It was better because we didn't expect to win after the first day," Marty Hawkes-Teeter said. The whole team said that the course on the first day was harder than the one on the second day. "It was fun, but it was also tiring," Norray said about his sprint to the finish.

The team members stayed in a Boy Scout camp near the course. They were the only kids in the place. The team had to pay for the trip so staying at the camp and cooking their own food saved them money. Willsey's father drove his van so the team saved money on travel as well. The team, however, got lost in Newark, N.J. on the way home. They got back on track rather quickly, though. "They got to see downtown Newark," Sue Hawkes-Teeter said.

"It took the whole seat to transport it home," said Marty Hawkes-Teeter said of the huge silver cup. With most of the team able to compete next year, the school better clear another spot in the trophy case.


Sue and the team by the van

The team at the start
Marty finishes Sarah finishes
Kris clears his "dipstick" (electronic punch) Ashley finishes
Sean gets ready to start Jack finishes

The team with the trophy

The team with the trophy