MECC’s Cybersecurity Teams Succeed on National Stage

BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team, comprised of cybersecurity students, has placed second out of all Virginia community colleges and 18th out of 185 teams in the nation at two recent competitive events.

MECC’s CTF team for these events were students Macarthur Inbody (captain), Staci Fraley, Danielle Lamb, Noah Sturgill, Nathaniel Mullins and Shane Strong. Assistant Professor Ritchie Deel, who oversees MECC’s cybersecurity program, served as faculty mentor.

The team participated in two recent national CTF competitions—Radford University’s “RUSecure” competition and the National Cyber League’s (NCL) “Spring Season” contest. In the RUSecure event, MECC placed ahead of all other teams in the Southwest Virginia bracket, finishing second out of all Virginia community colleges and 18th out of 185 teams nationally. As a result, MECC was one of 30 teams invited to Radford’s campus to compete in the final “championship round” that was to be held in early April. Unfortunately, that event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the NCL individual competition, held April 3 – April 5, Inbody placed in the 92nd percentile (out of 657 participants) in the tournament’s highest “Gold” bracket. Fraley placed in the 76th percentile (out of 1,536 participants) in the “Silver” bracket and Sturgill competed in the “Bronze” bracket. Bracket assignments were based on each student’s performance in preliminary rounds.

CTFs are competitions that test teams’ ability to solve challenges that relate to the cybersecurity industry. With each challenge solved, a team acquires a “flag,” and the team with the most flags by the end of a competition is named the winner.

CTFs are becoming more common throughout the country as the cybersecurity industry expands rapidly, and employers often use them to find and recruit talent. Both the RUSecure and NLC events were open to all high school and college teams in the country, and their online formats allowed competitors to participate from their homes provided they had access to a computer and a working internet connection.

MECC offers a Cybersecurity Career Studies Program that can be completed in one year. Those interested in enrolling in the program can visit or contact Ritchie Deel at 276.523.2400 ext. 444.