SAHS top Navy squad at CyberPatriot finals
Here's the scenario: Five South Aiken NJROTC cadets, 10 computers and more viruses and hacks and other obstacles than the average computer user would ever see in 20 years - and having to locate and neutralize as many as possible in about five hours.The cadets found most of them at the CyberPatriot National Finals last weekend, resulting in South Aiken finishing as the top Navy ROTC squad in the nation.Six cadets made the trip for South Aiken, one of 12 teams competing in the All-Services Division. The overall winner was the Colorado Springs, Cadet Squadron, Civil Air Patrol from Colorado.The cybersecurity competition is just in its third season nationally. South Aiken was among those teams participating in a pilot program two years ago before the program went national in 2010-11.•When we started, we had no expectations,• said team captain Matt Bauerlin, the only senior. •But it was a great set of skills to know - how to use computers and making sure you're safe. The world is evolving into a computer-oriented place.•In the first full competition last year, the South Aiken squad finished second nationally among Naval Junior ROTC squads.The other team members are Adrian Coleman, Sarah Henegan, Mark Reboul, Josh Livingston, Jacob Przywara, Reese Boatwright, Zachary Glave, Cullen Hightower and Nathan Witebsky.•The cadets are truly excited about what they have accomplished,• said NJROTC Cmdr. Larry Laughlin. •It certainly was an honor for us to represent South Aiken High School, Aiken County schools, South Carolina and the Navy.•Laughlin is grateful to the School Board and district administrators for their support and assistance for the CyberPatriot team. He also expressed his appreciation to the team mentor, Randy Coleman, and Coleman's wife Kay for their teaching and encouragement.Coleman's son Zachary was on the team for the past two years. He graduated in 2011, but Coleman, a cybersecurity specialist at the Savannah River Site, continues to work with the squad.After the team's unexpected success last year, the returning members and new additions were motivated to keep moving forward, Coleman said.•I knew they had the ability to do it, as they knew what was involved,• he said. •(Each round) steps it up a notch and makes it more difficult for the kids. But they have done well.•The Air Force Association coordinates the CyberPatriot competition in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman Foundation.During the finals, Przywara said, the team members had to deal with more than the viruses already on the computers. Two college students were assigned to throw in new viruses at random to the competitors.•They called themselves 'Mr. Happy,'• Przywara said. •They would send out messages like 'happy, happy, joy, joy,' and we would know there was something else we'd have to get rid of.•Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.