Brad Choat (Twitter: @choatsnews)

PARIS (KMOX) – “I’m still not sure I believe it, to be honest with you. It’s just incredible.”

That was the reaction from Festus High School Rocket Club advisor Devin Lorenz to KMOX News on Friday, after his students won the gold medal at the International Rocketry Challenge in Paris, France.

They defeated teams from Great Britain, France and Japan in the finals.

“At the beginning of this school year, 9 out of the 10 students had never even flown a rocket before. It’s been an incredible thing to watch their journey, coming from nothing to becoming international champions,” Lorenz said.

“It was unreal. I have to be honest, I cried for the first time in a long time,” 17-year-old Festus team member Joel Marler said.

“I didn’t think I’d ever really travel out of the country, especially this early on. Getting to do it for something like this, with some of my closest friends, is definitely something worthwhile,” 17-year-old team member Ryan Brown said about winning the national title and advancing to worlds in France.

The students from Festus became the third straight U.S. squad to win the yearly honor.

“You could not have written a better story for the Festus Team in a movie script,” said Aerospace Industries Association President & CEO David F. Melcher. “It was an impressive performance from each team, and we are especially proud of our students for winning a third consecutive international title for the United States.”

“The International Rocketry Challenge is a powerful way to inspire the next generation of technological innovators we need to solve some of the great challenges of our day,” said Thomas A. Kennedy, chairman and CEO of Raytheon, a corporate sponsor for Team USA and who made the trip from Missouri to Paris possible for the Festus students.


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