A trio of Patchogue-Medford high schoolers took the top three spots earlier this month in a countywide contest for their ability to build bridges.

Briana Shortell, a senior at Patchogue-Medford High School, won first place in Brookhaven National Laboratory's 2013 Model Bridge Building Contest, which attracted more than 160 students from 10 Suffolk County schools.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The contest challenged teens to design and build model wood bridges with the goal of making the lightest bridge that held the most weight, lab officials said.

Shortell's winning bridge weighed 20.7 grams and held 89.18 pounds, which equated to 1,954 times its weight.

Patchogue-Medford classmates Michael Grazio and Justin Schulz took second and third place, respectively. Grazio's bridge weighed 21.01 grams and held 89.83 pounds, while Schulz's bridge weighed 14.59 grams and held 60.78 pounds.

For taking the top two spots, Shortell and Grazio were eligible to compete at the national level on Saturday in Chicago. The local award for most aesthetically pleasing bridge went to Nikoli Rinaldi of Elwood-John H. Glenn High School.

The competition was coordinated by the laboratory's Office of Educational Programs.