Rocketry Team is 15th in Nation

Congratulations to the Rocketry Team!

The University School Rocketry Team finished 15th out of 100 finalist teams at the world's largest rocketry contest, the American Rocketry Challenge, in The Plains, Virginia. This is the third time the team has qualified for and competed at the national competition. In 2018 the team finished 88th and in 2022 they finished 48th. Nearly 800 teams and more than 4,500 total students entered this year's competition. 

The University School (US) team is known as "The US Space Program" and their members meet for two hours a week with their coach Mr. Seibyl '83. They spent countless hours outside of that preparing for and launching over 45 test flights this year in advance of the competition. The University School Rocketry Team members who traveled to the national competition are:  

David Baker '24, Andrew Beck '25, Isaac Duncan '24, Will Garceau '23, Ben Hoffman '25, Gavin Ippolito '23, Henry Laye '24, Raaghav Lele '23, Winston Massey '24, Tommy McGowan '24, Liam Monaghan '24, Beau Napolitano '25, Vio Pavlidis '25, and Danny Pikovskiy '25.

The team knows the general flight parameters in advance. This year, the rockets had to reach an altitude of 850 feet, but, as Mr. Seibyl explains, "The night before, they do a coin toss to determine the exact altitude for the finals. If it's heads, it's high (875 feet), if it's tails, it's low (825 feet). It turned out to be heads, which is what we wanted." To add to the complexity, the rockets must also carry a raw egg that must be returned safely and uncracked to the ground. David Baker '24 recounted, "For the first flight we got a 17 which put us in the top 10 overall, so we knew we made it to the second round." 

The team earned their spot in the national competition by completing a very successful test flight on the last day allowed by contest rules. Gavin Ippolito '23 and David Baker '24 launched the rocket, with Mr. Seibyl and an observer from the National Association of Rocketry on hand to make it official. 

The team's 15th-place finish earned them the chance to apply to compete at a college-level rocketry competition, the NASA Student Launch, next year. The rockets are launched up to a mile in the air and carry a robotic payload that must perform a specific task or reach a specific location after launch. Mr. Seibyl is excited to apply for the competition and will be attending a coaches training session in Huntsville, Alabama, this summer, "The teams and I have been working toward this opportunity for six years."

The competition was held the day before the class of 2023 commencement. Graduating seniors Will Garceau, Gavin Ippolito, Raaghav Lele, who took the bus with the rest of the team to Virginia on Friday, had to fly home to arrive in time for the commencement ceremony on Sunday. Raaghav will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall and will study aerospace engineering. "I would say this is one of the best weekends I've ever had," said Raaghav, who was back at school Monday morning to hang out with the team in their rocket-building room.  

His teammate Isaac Duncan '24, had already built a prototype for next year's competition using the parameters that have been released for the 2024 American Rocketry Challenge.  

About The American Rocketry Challenge
The American Rocketry Challenge is the world’s largest rocket contest with nearly 5,000 students nationwide competing each year. The contest gives middle and high school students the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets and hands-on experience solving engineering problems. For more information, including complete 2023 competition results, visit
    • The US Rocketry Team at the national competition in May.

Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
GRADES 9 – 12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves over 850 boys in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved.