Students from around the Riverbend area gathered in the Lewis and Clark Community College Riverbend Arena on April 7 to wage war against each other on a small scale.
Their weapons of choice were trebuchets, medieval siege engines, that they had constructed from PVC piping, wood, bits of metal and soda cans for a counter-weight on the throwing arm.
The competition saw teams from Jerseyville, Edwardsville, Collinsville, and even East Alton-Wood River, whose six teams accounted for nearly half of the competition.
Nathan Rassi, a physics teacher at Edwardsville High School who has participated in the annual tournament with his classes since 2008, praised the tournament and what it offered to the students involved. “I think it is a great opportunity for them to get engineering experience, design something, and build it. And it’s fun,” Rassi said.
Many teams took to the field with a full lineup of three trebuchets, the maximum allowed per team in the tournament rules. The sole team from Collinsville High School however, fielded only a single trebuchet, with a vastly different design than any of their competitors.
Trent Pauley, a sophomore at CHS said, “Originality is a big part of it. You don’t want to be the same as everyone else here… we’d rather have one that works that we know how to use than three that we just threw together.”
The event saw many members of the L&C community offering their time to help everything run smoothly, including Luke Clevenger, a radio broadcasting student and one of the event’s two emcees, who participated in the annual event for four years while in high school.
“Trebuchet competition was my favorite day in high school. It’s an amazingly fun competition and it taught a lot about the practical application of physics,” said Clevenger.
The tournament, which was double elimination, saw Edwardsville High School’s Tray Buckets Reunited face off against Jerseyville Community High School’s French Toast Mafia.
Jerseyville came into the match with one loss already on their record from earlier in the day, but managed to win two tense five-minute rounds to eliminate Tray Buckets Reunited. French Toast Mafia spokeswoman Anna Murray, a senior at JCHS, struggled to find words to convey the team’s feelings after their victory.
“We lost one, we got a little down, but we got back up. But, we knew we could win the rest of them. We needed to get down before we could get back up,” Murray said.