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July 11, 2013

Allen ranks in national biotechnology competition

DUNCAN — Sam Allen had several things working against him in the national biotechnology competition in Nashville, Tenn.

First of all, Allen was a high school junior going up against seniors and more advanced students. Although he had been taking a biotechnology course through Red River Technology Center, many of his opponents had taken bio-technology as a core class.

But hard work paid off. Allen, the son of David and Heather Allen, not only made the Top 20 and the Top 10 in the competition, he managed to come in sixth place overall in the national competition.

“It was really crazy,” Allen said. “I met people from Arizona who take a course on it. I think every state was represented.”

Edith Suiter, RRTC Biomedical Science Academy instructor, took eight students to the competition. One was a health careers student, while the other seven (including Allen) were in the biomedical program.

To advance to the national competition, students had to place first at the state competition in Oklahoma City. Allen did place first in biotechnology at the state level, which allowed him to continue to nationals.

“Back in February, I took a  qualifying test. The Top 20 students got to go to state,” Allen said. “I got first in state so I got to go to nationals.”

Other Red River Technology students who competed at nationals were Donovan Heintzman, anatomy in clay and creative problem solving; Tim Alaniz, creative problem solving; Alex Smith, anatomy in clay; Alex Stephens, creative problem solving; Ashton Wright, creative problem solving; Allison Christian, veterinary medicine; Ashley Powers, prepared speaking.

Allen’s competition began with a written test, from which the top 23 students nationally moved to the next section. Next was the demonstration of two of the seven skills related to biotechnology.

Going into the competition, he didn’t know which skills he would have to know, and therefore, had to learn all of them in some detail. Allen said the skills were combined in a scenario, and he was closely watched as he worked his way through the scenario.

For each step a competitor missed in a skill, points were deducted. At the end of the competition, the rankings were determined by the number of mistakes or missed steps each person had. Suiter said Allen coming in sixth in the nation is a tribute of his intelligence and the hard work he put into the competition.

“He worked hard,” Suiter said.

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