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updated: 10/26/2013 6:40 PM

19 teams compete in catapult contest at Cantigny Park in Wheaton

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  • Steven Skulemowski, 11, of Chicago Ridge shoots his catapult during a contest Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Nineteen teams competed.

       Steven Skulemowski, 11, of Chicago Ridge shoots his catapult during a contest Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Nineteen teams competed.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Biggs of Hanover Park shoots some video of the catapult contest held Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Well over 100 spectators came to watch.

       Ken Biggs of Hanover Park shoots some video of the catapult contest held Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Well over 100 spectators came to watch.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

Building a catapult is all about following instructions and the raw excitement of launching objects as far as they can go.

That was the conclusion of Team Bumblebee, comprised of members of Girl Scouts Troop 42604 based in Hoffman Estates, which was among 19 teams in a catapult competition held Saturday morning at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

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"It wasn't too hard (to build it) because we were working together," 11-year-old Adryana Lentino said. "It's fun being here and looking at all the other catapults."

Participants worked on their catapults at home and assembled them on the field the morning of the competition. They were given baseballs to launch in the three competition categories -- distance, shot group and accuracy.

The event, now in its third year, is free to participants. Spectators like Dave Heslett of Wheaton and his daughters Erin, 11, and Kerry, 10, paid the $5 parking fee.

The girls were bundled up on lawn chairs while their dad shot photos with his new camera. "It's fun to watch," Erin said.

The Peacekeepers team, consisting of neighbors Jeffrey Mott and Randy Marsh of Lombard, took first place in the distance category, catapulting its baseball 430 feet and four inches. The team took first place in distance last year, too, Mott said.

"This year we beefed it up, so we went much farther, but it's is not designed to do very well in the rest (of the event)," Mott said.

Team Mother Chuckers consisted of brothers Jacob, 21, and Jason, 11, and their father John Butterfield, all of Elmhurst, and their uncle Gus Menoudakis, of Arlington Heights.

The catapult was Jason's idea, who picked the design online. He also welded much of it under his father's supervision.

"It's fun," Jason said. "I like to launch stuff and destroy stuff and build stuff."

The event is truly educational, said JD Kammes, public programs manager for First Division Museum of Cantigny.

"There is not a way to build a catapult without calculating and taking into effect the math and the physics of it," he said. "Plus, who doesn't like throwing things around?"

Twenty-three teams signed up, but inevitably someone drops out, Kammes said. "It always happens that someone has some catastrophic failure the week or the day before the event," he said.

Some also suffered catastrophe at the competition, like the disqualified Team Offensive, composed of members of Boy Scout Troop 99 in Lisle. "We didn't understand the rules," parent Tim Blystone said. "The sling had to be within six feet, but we thought it was only the arm."

Still, the troop was able to compete with its second team, Team Assault. "It was fun," said Blystone's 14-year-old son Bobby. "It was cool seeing all the other catapults and how far they can go."

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