The Colorado Wing’s Air Academy Cadet Squadron team placed third nationally March 20 in the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition XIV finals, giving Civil Air Patrol teams 11 top-three finishes in 14 years, including three overall titles.
The Air Academy squadron also finished third in the Cisco NetAcad Challenge this year.
The team consisted of:
- Cadet Lt. Col. Jenna Jones, team captain.
- Cadet 1st Lt. Rachael Johnson.
- Cadet Chief Master Sgts. Brylon Broughton and Isabella Olivarez.
- Cadet Airman Natalie Feng.
Capt. Donna Fay coached the team.
The Air Academy team and entries from the California Wing’s Fullerton Composite Squadron 56 and North Carolina Wing’s Union County Composite Squadron were all making encore appearances in the national finals in Rockville, Maryland. The title round was held in person for the first time since 2019 after online championship finals in 2020 and 2021 because of coronavirus-related restrictions.
The 13 national finalists – from not only CAP but also Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy Junior ROTC and the Navy Sea Cadet Corps – competed in securing seven computers running 10 critical networked services. A professional red team attacked each system to disable services and disrupt operations while also distracting the teams.
For the Cisco challenge, teams had to answer questions on a quiz and also secure a large company network that included access control lists, VPNs, virtual networks, and other advanced networking concepts.
The Fullerton squadron team members were:
- Cadet Col. Jesse James II, team captain.
- Cadet 2nd Lt. Ryan Kim.
- Cadet Senior Airman Kaylyn Courtade.
- Cadet Airmen 1st Class Lauren Lee and David Song.
- Cadet Airman Minseo Kim.
Capt Brian Vu served as coach..
Last year, the Fullerton Composite Squadron 56 cadet team complemented its third-place overall finish by winning the Cisco challenge.
The Union County team members were:
- Cadet Staff Sgt. Benjamin Donahue, team captain.
- Cadet Capt. Davy Hallihan.
- Cadet 2nd Lt. Mason Wise.
- Cadet Tech. Sgt. Connor Woodman.
- Cadet Senior Airman Ryan Hallihan.
Maj. Rick Hallihan coached the team.
The Fullerton squadron made its fourth national finals appearance, having previously reached the championship round in 2018, 2019 and last year. The Air Academy squadron team reached the national stage for the third time, having previously done so in 2011 as well as in 2021. The Union County squadron made the finals for the second straight year.
The competition’s initial round was held Oct. 22-24, with nearly 450 Civil Air Patrol cadet teams across the U.S. participating. In all, 347 CAP teams competed, along with 102 teams of cadets in middle school.
Each team was guaranteed three rounds of live online competition. The second and third rounds occurred in November and December. Eliminations began following the third round, with only the top-scoring teams advancing to the semifinals.
CAP has participated in CyberPatriot since the very beginning. A CAP team was involved in the prototype competition in Florida for CyberPatriot I. All CAP units were eligible to compete starting with CyberPatriot II.
CyberPatriot, the nation’s largest cyber defense competition, puts high school and middle school students in charge of securing virtual networks, challenging them to harden simulated computer systems and resolve real- life cybersecurity situations faced by industry professionals.
CAP teams won the overall All Service Division championship in 2011, 2012, and 2017 and the inaugural Middle School Division title in 2014.
CAP cadets placed second nationally in the All Service Division in 2010, 2015, and 2020 and third in 2010, 2016, 2018, and 2021 as well as this year.