For the third year in a row, a team of students from the University of Maryland won the top prize in the Sports Turf Management Association Student Challenge.

The STMA Student Challenge takes place during the STMA conference in Denver, Colorado each January, testing teams’ knowledge and practical skills. Winning teams receive a $4,000 cash award benefitting the institution’s turf program.

The team from UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources included graduate Brian Hogen, and seniors Scott Hebert and Ryan Higgins. Their instructor, Dr. Kevin Mathias, and Alex Steinman, campus recreation services field manager, were the team’s coaches. The coaches had prepped the team since October with practice exams, study documents and hands-on experience.

This year’s challenge asked students to put together an irrigation design using pipe, valves and sprinkler heads using a diagram in 30 minutes. They were also tested on multiple choice and short answer responses. The UMD team was the only team to correctly identify eight different grass seeds.

The three students, along with a fourth team member, James Franck, are hoping for another win when they participate in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Collegiate Turf Bowl at the Golf Industry Show later in February.