Georgetown trio wins national model rocket competition


by ANDREW CHUNG, photojournalist JOHN FISHER, and editor ROB DIAZ/KVUE NEWS

Andrew Chung

Posted on May 19, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Updated Sunday, May 19 at 11:21 PM

Georgetown -- Launching model rockets into the skies over Georgetown is second nature for homeschooled brothers Matthew and Mark Janecka, and their friend Daniel Kelton, a sophomore at East View High School.

Together, they make up the Georgetown 4-H model rocket team. You can now also call them national champions.

"It is awesome," said Matthew, a high school junior.

On Saturday, May 11, they won the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia, beating more than 700 other teams from the around the country.

"Amazing. That's all I can say. Just amazing. Incredible," said Mark, a seventh-grader.

In this contest, each team must launch a raw Grade A chicken egg aboard a rocket, to an altitude of 750 feet.

That rocket must return to the ground, under a 15-inch parachute, within 48 to 50 seconds without breaking the egg.

Before competing in Virginia, the team tested their rocket countless times to get it right and broke only one egg. "Some of them were exciting; some of them were frustrating, 'cause we didn't get the score that we hoped to, but most of them were exciting," explained Mark.

It's good the boys have an open field where they can launch their rockets, but they need to consider a couple of other things: there are trees surrounding the field next to the Janeckas’ home, windy conditions are not good for launching, and the boys must watch out for aircraft flying in the area.

In Virginia, when the winning team was announced, Kelton said he and his teammates felt, "Shock and disbelief...'cause it was very unofficial. We were just recording our scores with the judge, and he's just sitting at the computer, typing results, and goes, 'Well, that puts you in first place.' And (we were) like, 'oh'. Most of us just couldn't believe it."

“Whenever they told us that we won, I was just like, I just can't describe it. It's such a good feeling," said Mark.

"I was actually, did not expect it at all; I was shocked, but really happy," said Matthew.

Now, the trio will compete against a team from the United Kingdom and a team from France in Paris on June 18th. "That feels really good to be able to represent the United States in internationals," Matthew said.

The Janeckas' sisters, Amy and Kimberly, cheered their brothers on in Virginia. And while the boys were in disbelief, Amy said, "We were ecstatic. Especially when they won, they were just like all smiles, but we were the ones screaming and yelling for them.”

Kimberly said, "I like to see that they.. started from scratch..something that, like, (was) not even existent, and they took it all the way to national competition and now internationals, so it's really amazing."

They'll join the guys in Paris, where the trio hopes to show the world they have that they have the "right stuff".

For more information on the Team America Rocketry Challenge, click here.


News Video
More Video