In a season of big accomplishments, the Hancock High School Business Professionals of America's Network Design team had one of the biggest.

The team of seniors Tanner Pahl and Peyton Rohloff, junior Emmaneul Chavira and sophomore Isaiah Flaten finished third in the nation at the national BPA competition in Anaheim, California, May 1-5. The team developed a network design for a bank that included routers, security, hardware, software and other features. The team was judged on how thorough the team's written plan was and on the team's presentation of its plan to judges.

Third place is the highest finish of any Hancock BPA team in the seven years its existed. The entire BPA team finished first in the nation in a category of community involvement and earned a top place for 30 percent growth in membership. Members Tanner Pahl, Amber Hausmann, Alexis Staples, Morgan Kisgen and Rylie Morrow each received Torch awards which are national ambassador awards related to community involvement. Team member Parker Schmidgall finished 27th in C Plus Plus computer programming.

"It was posted on (BPA) Facebook...and it seemed like a lot of people were proud of us," Rohloff said.

"Everywhere I go, people are congratulating me," BPA adviser Amy Dougherty said. While she accepts the congratulations on behalf of the students, she points out it's the students who did the work.

Network Design team members said they did work but they also had valuable help from from others including a regional BPA judge, staff at the school, faculty at Alexandria Technical College, Riverview LLP and Bremer Bank.

"It definitely helped to have that network of people," Chavira said.

"We had (help) from different types of people," Pahl said. The individuals each provided a different perspective on the team's project, he said.

Flaten said the team sought more help as soon as it completed regional competition. "...we were making sure we got everything we need ready for state," he said.

The team would face its first head-to-head competition at state because no other teams competed at regions.

State would be where the team would learn "how we compared with other people," Chavira said.

The team advanced from state to the national competition. It had about six weeks to prepare for nationals. The team used the time to fine tune the overall project and to improve the presentation.

The team made presentations to staff at Bremer Bank and to staff at Riverview..

Members said they had a different approach to the presentation than many of the teams competing at nationals.

"We saw people pulling out scripts," Chavira said.

They didn't need scripts because they knew the material so well. Each person was responsible for a particular portion of the presentation, yet, other team members were free to add information about that portion.

"If you'd screw up you knew someone would help you out," Flaten said.

The team was judged twice at the national competition. Each time involved one judge. The competition added a twist for each judging time. The first twist was the team needed to add signs to the overall project. The second twist was to evaulate to different types of software the bank needed for customers.

The team had about a half hour to adjust to these twists.

The third-place finish was gratifying and even more rewarding because the school is much smaller than many of those who competed, Rohloff said.

For more on the BPA chapter's success at nationals, click the link to these stories:,