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Nate Childers, left, Liathano Ramirez, Cassidy Pallin, Natalie Fritz, Quinn Zickert and Caden Stuart stand with costumes and props from the regional Odyssey of the Mind competition, where the fourth grade Crystal Lake Elementary students won a prestigious honor.

TRAVERSE CITY — A team of students from Crystal Lake Elementary School won top honors at a regional problem solving competition.

The six fourth-grade students from Crystal Lake Elementary won the Ranatra Fusca Award, presented for exhibiting outstanding creativity during Odyssey of the Mind problem solving events.

"We were overwhelmed, shocked, elated," said team co-coach Alicia Childers. "We just couldn't believe it."

Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem solving program for youths of all ages. A host of local students competed on Saturday at Traverse City East Middle School in the Michigan's Region 3 Odyssey of the Mind Tournament.

Jamie Wheelock, Region 3 director, said the Crystal Lake students were the first Region 3 Team to win a Ranatra Fusca award in five years.

"A judging team has to feel that this is creativity beyond anything they've ever seen, especially for the age and division of the kids," she said.

A handful of teams from the Grand Traverse region, including the Ranatra Fusca winners, qualified for the state Odyssey of the Mind tournament, which will take place at Traverse City Central High School and Northwestern Michigan College on March 29.

Liathano Ramirez, one of the members of the fourth-grade team at Crystal Lake Elementary, said she's eager to compete against the best Michigan has to offer.

"I think we're going to do great," Ramirez said. "We're really psyched about it."

Full results from Saturday's tournament are available at

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