'I played varsity for two years, then I decided to try something else'

EUGENE, Ore. - Four students from Willamette High are getting ready to start their burners.

On Sunday, they'll be competing in Oregon's ProStart Culinary Championship against 18 other schools.

"Last year our meal was simplistic," said Wil-Hi senior Ben Guerra. "This year our meal's a lot harder."

Cooking a three-course, five-star meal in an hour is just one obstacle they'll be facing.

"We only use two butane burners, no electrical tools," Guerra said.

But despite the cookoff's restrictions, the team seemed to have it all together during their practice this week.

"You're always making sure you're on time with everything, that everyone's on the same pace," said senior Kelsey Vansant.

This competition is important for Vansant: She ditched the basketball court for the kitchen her sophomore year.

"I played varsity for two years," she said, "and then I decided to try something else."

Wil-Hi last won this competition in 2007. If they make it to the top this year, they'll be heading to Minneapolis for a shot at the national championship.

"We've learned from the past what the judges want to see, so that's what we've done," said Martha Humphreys, the culinary team's coach.

"We're just trying to perfect everything we do," Guerra said.