WATERVILLE — A group of Thomas College students recently competed and placed virtually against top national colleges in the Society for Advancement of Management National Conference, according to a news release from MacKenzie Riley Young, assistant director of Media Relations at the college.

Students Kerri Abbott of Starks, Zach Gagne of Augusta, Brynn Patenaude of Lyman, Elliott Sharples of Monmouth, Dylan Veilleux of Waterville and Tiffany White, of Barnstead, New Hampshire, placed third overall, first in both knowledge bowl and business pitch, second in extemporaneous speech, and third in written case.

SAM is the oldest, most premier business organization in the U.S. Thomas students competed against top schools like Stephen F. Austin State University, New England Institute of Technology, Florida State University, and Marshall University.

“What amazes me about this group was their ability to pivot and prepare under such stressful circumstances. Usually, the group would spend the final two weeks before the competition working on refining their presentations as a group. Due to the pandemic, we had to close the campus, so that was not an option,” said Thomas College professor and team advisor Dr. Dan Leland, according to the release.

“As a business professor my number one goal is to prepare students for the real world. No one could plan for this. However, they came equipped and proved they can compete with any school in the country. They were determined to follow up last year’s success with a similar result. Being recognized by the competition committee is a humbling experience, and these students deserve it. I am so proud of them.”

Also, because of the switch to an online format, the team was inadvertently put in the open classification in written case study. So, this group of undergraduate students competed – and placed – in a graduate division for that specific competition, making the results even more impressive.

This is the third year in a row that Thomas students participated and won big at the SAM competition. In 2019, students placed first in case study, first in Knowledge Bowl and second for overall recognition among the business programs at the conference. In 2018, students placed third overall in the competition.