SMA juniors bring home HOSA state titles

St. Marys Area High School juniors Scott Barber and Brian Merritt recently each brought home top honors from the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) state competition, held March 2-4 in Lancaster. Barber was awarded with a top prize in the Pathophysiology knowledge test, while Merritt captured first place in Sports Medicine.Joining Barber and Merritt in placing at the competition were Alyssa Fenton, Anna Prechtl and Samuel Guido, who worked as a group and took home third place in Creative Problem Solving, while Trenton Schreiber finished in fifth place in Medical Spelling. Additional place winners included fourth-place finishers Kristen Anderson, Taylor Bellina, Kristi Wendel and Jolene Young, all in the HOSA Bowl. This year the HOSA club is under the direction of first-year advisors Jennifer Breindel and Jessica Krug.Barber and Merritt described more about their categories and what they needed to do in the competition. "Pathophysiology is the study of disease and how it effects the body's function," Barber explained. As part of the competition, he had to answer 100 questions, along with complete an essay within a 90-minute time period. He succeeded in having the highest score out of 11 fellow competitors.Barber said he would like to study optometry after high school and eventually become an eye doctor. He explained that a bulk of the information he utilized during the competition, he learned in school during Mrs. Moyer's health classes.In addition to HOSA, Barber has participated in soccer for the past three years, track and field, football during his sophomore and junior years, swimming during his freshman and sophomore years and has been involved in job shadowing at Elk Regional Health Center, Altoona Hospital's trauma department and at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.Merritt explained that while honing his skills in sports medicine, he worked with SMAHS' athletic trainer Ashley Mulcahy over a three-month time period. He noted that he dedicated a significant amount of time out of school in preparing for the competition."Last year we learned about range of motion in health class," Merritt added. "I also reviewed two athletic training books."As part of the competition, Merritt was required to complete a 50-question test and perform various stretches and range of motion exercises, as well as properly tape a subject for preparation for a sporting event.In the future, Merritt is considering becoming a physician assistant or orthopedic surgeon."HOSA provides me with good experience to get basic medical training down before going more in-depth with it," Merritt said. "HOSA shows us how well-prepared we are for our field," Barber added.