Left to right: Front Row – Yunxuan Pei, Aubrey Wiechecki (5th Place Individual), Cathelyn Wang (7th Place Individual), Rachael Heisey. Back Row – Dr. Martin Rabenhorst (Coach), Antonio Vega, William Mast, Dyani Frye, Anna Lowien, Barret Wessel (Asst. Coach), Jonathan Moy, Isabella Bruno.
On April 18 and 19, the University of Maryland Terrapins captured first place in the 59th
National Soils Competition hosted by the California Polytechnic and State University and held in
the vicinity of San Luis Obispo, CA, where twenty six universities from seven regions around
the country were competing for the prize. Although the Terps struggled in the group portion of
the competition on Friday, their strength in the individual portion of the contest on Thursday,
with the two UMD contestants finishing in the top 10 (among a field of 101) (Aubrey Wiechecki
in 5th place and Cathelyn Wang in 7th place), carried them to the 1st place finish overall, ahead of Virginia Tech (2nd), Univ. of Nebraska (3rd, coached by former Terp Soil Judger Dr. Judy Turk), North Carolina State Univ. (4th) and Kansas State Univ. (5th).
The practice and contest pits included an interesting collection of soils that were mostly
Mollisols, Vertisols and Aridisols. These were formed in variety parent materials including
alluvium (on fans, terraces and floodplains), colluvium, and residuum. Other schools
representing the NE region at the contest in California included Penn State Univ. (8th), Rhode
Island (13th), and Delaware Valley University (15th).
This is the 5th time Maryland has won the national title over the 59 year history of the event.
Coach Martin Rabenhorst was a member of the 1972 National Championship team that won in
Blacksburg, VA and was coach of the 1984 team that won in San Luis Obispo, CA and of the
2017 team that won in Dekalb, Illinois. Assoc. Professor Brian Needelman coached the team
that won the championship held in Platteville, WI in 2013.
Three members of the Terp SJ team will be graduating this May (Frye, Lowien, and Wiechecki –
Heisey graduated in December, but was still qualified to participate in the SLO event). The
others (Bruno, Mast, Moy, Pei, Vega, and Wang) will hopefully be back on the team this coming
Fall for the NE regional contest that will be hosted by UMD. In the meantime, they will be
enjoying this victory.