De Soto High School student team seventh in NASA moonbuggy race
While attending a competition April 7 in Huntsville, Ala., the De Soto High School moonbuggy team encountered something they hadn't expected -- tornado weather.
The team spent several months designing and building a moonbuggy to compete in NASA's "Great Moonbuggy Race."
Although the team made it home safely -- many in time for prom on Saturday -- they missed out on a second run.
Normally, they would get two races to make their best time, but the second run was canceled because of the weather.
Seventh place wasn't exactly what De Soto's moonbuggy team had hoped for, but better than last year. Their time was seven minutes, 48 seconds, and the team was the third to actually finish the course.
"It was great going through the course without hearing a bunch of penalties," senior Lindsay Koehler said.
The moonbuggy must go over rough and rocky terrain and several schools that compete aren't even able to finish the course.
Last year, De Soto took two teams of students and one of the buggies fell apart before it was able to finish. This year, the team consolidated and brought out its secret weapon -- driver Carrie Buser. When the moonbuggy stuck in the sand, she got out and pushed the buggy with co-driver Luke Krehbiel inside.
"We definitely had the best two drivers out there," faculty sponsor Jim Bonar said.
The team only got two penalties -- one for hitting a hay bale and one for hitting an orange cone.
"We should have won the most improved award," Koehler said. "I don't know why we didn't."
Krehbiel said being on the moonbuggy team helped him develop skills he's planning to use as an aerospace engineer. The senior plans to attend Texas A & M University next year.
"I pretty much knew I was going to do it before I joined the team," he said. "That's why I signed up for it."
All but two juniors are graduating from the team this year. Bonar said the school probably won't enter the moonbuggy race next year, but may decide on a new school engineering project the year after that.
Junior Jake Boznak said he would love to try another engineering-type competition.
"I'm going to be in advanced drafting to keep my auto-CAD stuff up," he said. "I know I'm planning to do some type of engineering after college."