| The Daily Star |
Area teams use their minds to win at Odyssey competition

By Amy L. Ashbridge

ONEONTA _ It doesn't matter what you look like or how tall you are if you want to participate in Odyssey of the Mind.

What matters, said some of those involved with the program, is what goes on inside your head.
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"It doesn't matter what your physical abilities are," regional director Erika Kwasnik said. "It's a chance for them to compete with their minds."

About 400 students participated in the regional competition Saturday at the State University College at Oneonta. Students had to win at their school level to get to regionals.

"It's the best day in the universe," Kwasnik said Saturday.

Teams who came in first place for their problem and division will go to the state competition March 31 at Binghamton University. First-place teams from states go to the world finals at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Kwasnik said this was the first year a blind student competed. Amanda Furr is a ninth-grader at Norwich High School and competed in the school's Division III team for "Around the World in Eight Minutes."

"I like challenging stuff," Furr said after competition ended. "I liked the quality time with (her friends)."

"Around the World in Eight Minutes" challenged students to create a skit involving a trip to three places _ the North Pole, another real place and a fictitious spot.

Students from Sidney Central School took a trip around the world to find world peace.

"The war is escalating," Casey Sprague said during the skit. "I don't know why I said escalating. I don't even know what that means."

Students on Sprague's team went to the North Pole and the Great Barrier Reef, and visited the ruler "Yendis." They went there in a boat and eventually a submarine.

"I was going to give it to a boy last year," Cora Martindale said of the submarine, "but he ended up on the naughty list."

The team has participated for several years, they said, but this was the first year Christopher Harvis and Brandon Hitchcock were on the team.

"It's hard in the beginning, but then it gets easier," Cora said.

Students worked since November on the project.

"I'm probably more nervous than they are," said Rita Maxwell, the mother of Rachel Maxwell and the coach of the team. "They just flourish."

The team won third place for its division and problem.

Students from Milford Central School created a "Leaning Tower of Pizza" that was taller than they were for their solution to that problem. Team members Trisha Gagnon, William Ward, Abigail Freer, Zoe Green, Fiona Brennan, Luke Courter and Hannah Saggese tackled global warming on their trip.

Milford, coached by Susan Bennis Ward and Cinta Brennan, won first place. The school will be going to the state competition in Binghamton at the end of March.

"Creativity comes in so many different ways," Bennis Ward said. "Creativity is in all of us."

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