Academic Challenge proceeds to regionals

By Emily Beuter, Opinion Editor — Not many people choose to stay after school about twice a week to answer an array of questions pertaining to math, literature, science, geography, history and many other topics. However, a group of seven students commit themselves to this for a little more than three months. This group of students is known as the Academic Challenge team.

“The team has a superb balance of scholastic knowledge and a competitive spirit, particularly when put together as a team. Everyone in their own style is driven to do well as possible,” coach Matthew Brown said.

This year the team went undefeated, the first time under Brown. The varsity team is comprised of Colin Svatos, Kyle Monnot, Paige Hamsher, Gavin Hayes, Nick Golina, Christian McCartney and Kenny So. The varsity’s success was passed to the junior varsity squad as well as they went 10-1. The junior varsity squad is made up of Alex Nupp, Gavin Nupp, Kyla Simon, Ian MacDonald, Logan Brown, Tia Swallow, Emily Beuter, Talia Zelle, Matt Alberta and Matt Hallas. All of these students made the team through audition. The audition was a 100 question oral examination of basic scholastic knowledge. The top 17 students were chosen.

“I joined the team to challenge myself and learn new things,” sophomore Paige Hamsher said. She has been on the team since her freshmen year.

The varsity team improved since last year when they lost one match and this year they lost none. They defeated Central Catholic, a team that has been coming on strong. The team also beat Hoover, which came as a surprise because, according to Brown, they have normally been a superb team.

“Our most memorable moment was against Central Catholic. After battling it out almost evenly two rounds, we managed to pull away and win the match,” senior Kyle Monnot said who has been on the team for two years.

The team went to the league tournament and won every match up to the final one. They lost the final match against Central Catholic by a score of 39-26.

“The questions during the entire tournament were crazy difficult, and when an easy one did come up, we often didn’t capitalize on it,” Monnot said.

Although they lost the League tournament, they are able to advance to the Regional Tournament since they had a perfect season. Held in April teams from Stark County, Summit, Medina, Wayne and Holmes county come together to participate in the tournament. There the top four teams advance to states.

“I’m looking forward to Regionals. Although we finished 5th last year, I’m hoping we can get at least second and earn a spot in the state tournament,” Monnot said.

The composition of the team helped their success as well as teamwork.

“Academic Challenge is a team sport,” Monnot said. “I’m not the greatest person alone, and neither is anybody else. When we put together out strengths, that’s when we are great.”

Team work also requires a great amount of trust and communication with one another. Before the team answers a question, they converse with one another.

“We listen to each other and make sure the correct answer is give,” Hamsher said. “Communication is key.”

The team sends screens their answers during non-lightning rounds (which are rounds where each team receives their own question where only they can answer first) with team captain senior Colin Svatos.

“I enjoy being captain. It’s truly great to be able to work with so many fun, intelligent people,” Svatos said.

Svatos has been on the team all four years of high school and Brown feels he knows the “ins and outs” of Academic Challenge.

“He is a born leader with regard to our team, with the aggressiveness and boldness necessary to answer questions quickly and accurately,” Brown said. “Success is a big deal to him, and the example he provided to others on the team, particularly those in the team for the first year, is invaluable.”

Everyone on the team agrees that they lost several great seniors but were still able to have a winning season.

“Coming into this season, we were down some talented seniors that graduated last year,” Hamsher said. “Even so, we stepped it up and had one of the team’s few undefeated seasons It was awesome to be able to continue the tradition of success.”

Hamsher, Monnot and Svatos all hope that their success will carry onto regionals as well as next year.

“I’m looking forward to the next two seasons to come,” Hamsher said. “There are great things in store for the Academic Challenge team.”

[Updated Aug. 10, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]