KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Hardin Valley Academy AeroHAWKS team was crowned National Champions at the world’s largest student rocket contest. 

The competitive aeronautics club is now taking its talents overseas for the International Rocketry Challenge. 

The AeroHAWKS Team 1 won first place at the American Rocketry Challenge, which means the rocket champions will represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge in Paris this month. 

“Since this is our first year, we haven’t really had experience like other teams have and I’m just really proud of everyone,” Bailey Mounts, a team member on AeroHAWKS Team 1, said. 

Mounts and her teammates pulled off an exciting victory even after their rocket misfired at the start of the competition. 

“We were like that’s not great because our igniter wasn’t in the rocket all the way. We were pretty confident that we were going to be at least in the top 10 or top 3, but we never really expected first,” Mounts said. 

The AeroHAWKS Team 2 earned 10th place in the competition. Aidan Finney hopes the club’s success attracts some new recruits. 

“We’ve talked about it a little bit and we’re going to have like an officer team and a rookie team so we’re hoping that this brings in a lot of attention and a lot of new members next year from underclassman and just students,” said Finney. 

Combined, the two teams earned over $20,000 in prize money for their achievements.

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Tim Smyrl, the team sponsor, is proud to see their hard work pay off. 

“I’m super proud of them! It’s pretty amazing to see where they started versus where they ended up,” Smyrl said.

The two teams also received an invitation to participate in NASA’s Student Launch initiative to continue their exploration of rocketry.