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Odyssey of the MInd 22-23

Odyssey of the Mind returned to Loudoun County on Saturday, February 25, 2023, after three years of COVID-induced virtual reality. Eighty-six teams from Catoctin Region 14 and Dulles Region 16 packed Riverside High School’s hallways, gyms, cafeteria, library and classrooms. Participants were eager to show off their creative solutions at the first in-person Odyssey of the Mind tournament since COVID closed schools in March 2020.

“Circumstances have limited us to virtual tournaments throughout Virginia for the past three years,” said Region 14/16 Director Tom Coate. “It was wonderful to see everybody back in person. Feeling the sheer level of creative energy in the building once again was fantastic.” 

Region 14/16 Director Sheryl Lemma agreed with Coate: “It was wonderful to hear from so many first-time participants, coaches, judges and parents about how much they enjoyed the experience, how impressed they were with the creativity they saw in the students, and how they can’t wait to come back next year.”

The competition saw performances from 44 teams from the Catoctin Region and 42 from the Dulles Region. Teams from each Region who placed first in their long-term Problem and grade-based Division were invited to the Virginia State Competition, which will be held at Tuscarora High School on April 15, 2023. The winning teams are listed below.

In addition to awarding trophies for 1st place performances and certificates for 2nd and 3rd place winners, the Regional Board handed out two special honors at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday night.

The OMer Award recognizes individuals or teams that embody the “spirit of Odyssey of the Mind.” Lindsey Lesar, the school coordinator from the newly opened Elaine E. Thompson Elementary School, was honored for her efforts to start the Odyssey of the Mind program at the school and find coaches, students, judges and volunteers to support 11 teams. The nomination credited Lesar for building up a robust program and providing an opportunity for so many students to grow and demonstrate their creativity. 

Lesar said she was surprised and honored by the award. “While I am incredibly grateful for the recognition of the dedication that goes into building a large Odyssey of the Mind program at a new school, the success is attributed to our school community. I’m extremely proud of our school.”

The second award – the coveted Ranatra Fusca, which celebrates exceptional creativity or risk-taking – was presented to the Problem 3 team from Belmont Ridge Middle School for what the nominating judges called their “truly ‘outside the box’ solution to the ‘wall’ and ‘Trojan horse’ components required by this year’s Classics problem, The Walls of Troy.”

According to coach Doug Cossa, the Belmont Ridge Middle School team formed pre-COVID.  At the same time, they were students at Steuart W. Weller Elementary School and competed in virtual competitions at the State and Worlds level in 2021. After placing first at virtual States last year and attending the in-person World Finals at Iowa State University, Cossa said the team of now 6th graders “set out early last fall to think of the most creative storyline about overcoming an obstacle.”

Anyone interested in seeing these students’ creativity on display – along with that of the 20 other 1st place teams from Loudoun County – is invited to attend the Virginia State Competition in April. In the meantime, to learn more about the Odyssey of the Mind program locally and worldwide, visit and

Published March 17, 2023