By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

A sport of the mind rather than the body has catapulted two teams of Del Norte County children to a state competition in Sacramento next weekend.

The worldwide Odyssey of the Mind competition is celebrating the mental agility of six Mountain School students and six from Smith River School. Both teams were elevated through local, then regional, competitions in Santa Rosa. Their next task is to match wits with teams from around the state.

Theyre hungry for it. Its five months of work that culminates in a 10-minute performance on one day and were ready to go, said Kacy Jones, one of the parent coaches for the Smith River team.

Competition started in November when teams from schools in 70 different nations around the world were given a choice of seven multi-faceted problem-solving challenges.

Both schools chose a bird-oriented problem called Wild Winged Wonders.

All six students must work as a team using their engineering, theatrical and spontaneous thinking skills to present their solution to the problem.

The crux of solving the Wild Winged Wonder problem required making a quickly constructed bird actually fly, untethered for at least five seconds.

It cant touch anything for five seconds and thats a long time when you have to put it together so quickly, Jones said.

The Smith River team was led by teacher Jim Ramsey, who was honored at last weekends regional competition for participating in Odyssey of the Mind for seven years straight.

Ramseys team took first in his division of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders for the states northern region.

His first place students were Alix Craddock, Ryan Stoner, Robyn Suzuki, Mykal Stoner, Katy Suzuki and Irene Moraeno.

Parent Tina Suzuki served as an assistant coach for Ramsey.

Mountain Schools team took second place in their division of 7th and 8th graders. Teachers Gary Gatti and Jim Karanopoulas lead that team.

If youve ever been in sports and gone to a state-level competition, this is what Odyssey of the Mind is like. Instead of being athletic, its mental, Gatti said.

Thirty-six teams from around the state will meet in Sacramento next weekend for the competition. Gatti said it feels great to have two of those teams coming from Del Norte County.

Teams that win their division in Sacramento will progress to the world competition in Washington DC.

Were keeping our fingers crossed, Gatti said.

Mountain School team members included Erik Burlingame, Tatum Schultz, Amanda Wetherell, Jason Dodge and Bradley Richins.

Another Del Norte County school team got a third place showing in the upper-grade division. Bill Andersons students of Del Norte High School chose a Balsa Wood Structure problem to wrap their minds around.

Andersons team was made up of Nick Bosteder, Karina Gianola Matt Pingle, Daisy Reynolds, Tony Toreson and Gib Williams.

Parents, teachers and principals have worked together to get the students ready and transported to the competitions, according to parent coach Jones.

Our theme is to have fun and learn something in the process, Jones said.