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K-State Today

March 20, 2024

K-State Baja SAE team takes second place at winter competition

Submitted by Grant Guggisberg

The Wildcat Offroad competition team traveled to Houghton, Michigan, to compete in the 43rd annual Winter Baja competition, putting two cars in the top five of the standings. Members of the team in attendance, from left: Kolton Sims, Bryce Zavadil, Jacob Denholm, Dennis Meyer, Tanner Gould, Ethan Gabrielson, Will Beemer, Emery Kaylor, Dillon McGinn, Colton Madden, Ari Srivastava, Weston Kraus and Cory Embers.

Wildcat Offroad, the K-State Baja SAE team, put two cars in the top five of the standings at the 43rd annual Winter Baja competition hosted by Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.

The contest features the off-road racing of recreational vehicles built within the guidelines of the Society of Automotive Engineers. This unofficial SAE competition is unique because the main endurance race is run on a snowmobile course covered in thick ice and snow. K-State took 13 students and four different vehicles on the trip.

The top K-State car, named "Prowler," finished in second place among a field of 35 cars and 20 competing teams and was driven by Jacob Denholm, Kolton Sims and Bryce Zavadil. The team of Dennis Meyer, Tanner Gould and Weston Kraus drove "Maverick" and finished in fourth place.

Kraus, president of Wildcat Offroad and senior in mechanical engineering, said the four-wheel drive cars, including Maverick, handled the terrain better, making the finish by the Prowler driving team even more impressive.

"Ironically, Prowler is a two-wheel-drive car and got second due to the ruts limiting the available places for the four-wheel-drive vehicles to pass," he said. "Because our drivers didn't make mistakes and didn't spin out, they could hold their position and prevented the four-wheel-drive cars from passing.

"The only reason Maverick got fourth is due to the steering column becoming disconnected in the last 30 minutes, which allowed Prowler to pass Maverick by two laps before she got back on the track."

Emery Kaylor, sophomore in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, said he enjoyed making the trip and competing at the event.

"My favorite thing was seeing all the different teams' take on how to design and build a car," he said.

Sims, junior in mechanical engineering, said the team was excited following the strong showing.

"Dinner after the race was my favorite part of the trip," he said. "Spirits were high, and the food was good. We had a blast."

Wildcat Offroad will next travel to an even larger competition for SAE Williamsport, an official SAE event held May 16-19 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.