Barb Portzen and grandson host Rubik’s cube competition at SPASH
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — Rubik’s cubes may seem impossible to solve for some, but for the kids that competed in Stevens Point on Sept 10, they made it look easy. Local residents Barb and Ty Portzen hosted the competition at SPASH, where over 100 speedcubers from around the Midwest traveled to compete. Zeke Mackay also assisted in organizing the event, as did many volunteers.
Barb explained the concept of the competition and said she gives all of the credit to her grandson, Ty. He came up with the idea of starting a competition like this in grade school.
“Well, it all started in fifth grade when my teacher brought in a Rubik’s cube,” Ty explained. “It took me a year and a half to solve one, but eventually, I wanted to get faster and faster.”
He also said inspiration sparked when he saw a student create one at Ben Franklin Junior High School in Stevens Point.
Kids were able to compete in 2x2x2, 3x3x3, 4x4x4, clock, and skewb competitions. The 3×3 cube competition had the top 50 advance to the second round, and then the top 16 advanced to the finals. Competitors had an average of five attempts. Brian Johnson, the world’s 17th-ranked solver with this cube via the World Cube Association, took first place in the 3x3x3 competition. He averaged 7.42 seconds to solve. His fastest time was 6.20 seconds. Johnson also won the 4x4x4 cube with an average time of 28.09.
Portzen explained his goal when he wanted to showcase this kind of talent.
“It’s just another hobby,” he said. “It’s honestly just a hobby that everyone loves to do.”
The three other competitions only had a first round and a final round. Carter Kucala won the 2x2x2 cube competition with an average time to solve of 2.40 seconds. His best time was 1.66. His record is .62 seconds, which ties for 26th in the world via the World Cube Association. The clock and skewb competitions saw sub-six second times. Nathan Rahn won the clock competition with a 5.94-second average. Lastly, Simon Kellum took an average of 2.01 seconds to solve the skewb. His best time was 1.56.
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