Greenwood High takes second in regional Academic Challenge Tournament

From left are Rose Whitt, Jacob Smith, JD Clegg, Griffin Newbold, Keira Crawford, Robert Tinkler, Brady Bagwell, Don Tran, Ava Zhou, Kritu Patel, Jazlyn Witt and oach Kristen Hallerud.

WPEC held a two-day tournament on Dec. 2 and 3 to decide who would represent the conference at the Academic Challenge State Championship. Monday night the teams faced off in three rounds of double elimination to determine who advances to the second day of play. Greenwood High won their first match against Mid-Carolina High School. The second match ended with Greenwood getting their first loss as they faced against defending state champions, Laurens District 55 High School.

The Eagles’ last round of the night was against the team from Emerald High School ending with a close, three-point game, knocking Emerald out of the tournament. While Greenwood and Emerald were going head-to-head, Laurens was defeated by Clinton High School in the third round. Greenwood went home knowing they would have to face Laurens again the next day to decide who would advance to the finals.

That match between Greenwood and Laurens began the next day. The Eagles knew it would not be an easy feat to beat the team that had given them their first loss in the tournament, but they were determined to defeat the odds. The game could not have been any closer as the two were tied 6-6 after the first round of discussion questions. Two rounds later The Eagles would head into the final round of 25 questions with a four-point lead on Laurens. When the dust settled, the two teams were tied and would begin a five question tie-breker round. These five questions ended in a tie as well as Greenwood’s GriffinNewbold answered the final question to even the score. Tension was high, and nerves filled the room as the teams now had to face off in a sudden-death round. The first team to answer correctly would win the match. The proctor read, “In older times, people believed tomatoes to be poisonous when the real culprit was what” and was interrupted by the sound of Greenwood High School’s JD Clegg buzzing in, who answered, “Lead” to gain a point and win the game. When asked about the victory, Clegg said, “Answering that question seemed like something of an underdog story. This moment was a highlight of the year for me as the team swarmed around me and embraced me. Just an amazing moment.”

Shortly after this heart-wrenching victory by Greenwood High, they would lose a hard-fought match to an undefeated Clinton High School. Clinton had placed second in 2018’s tournament and followed it up by taking first in 2019. This was the final match for seniors Brady Bagwell and Rose Whitt, two of the teams pivotal members throughout the tournament. It was evident that this year’s individuals in the lineup had their strengths, such as Bagwell and Whitt’s knowledge of topics ranging from physics to musical symbols. The school’s juniors and sophomores contributed much to the knowledge pool as well.

Don Tran leads the way in mathematical fields. Keira Crawford has a great expanse of knowledge concerning literature and art history. Robert Tinkler, Griffin Newbold, JD Clegg, and Jacob Smith round out the team’s knowledge of social studies and science. Despite all of these individual strengths, this year more than ever, the group had become a team as well as a family. Coaches and students feel the team has improved since the previous season and cannot wait for what is to come. One of Greenwood Coaches Kristen Hallerud had this to say about 2019’s Academic Team: “ I am proud of how the individuals within the team focused on playing to the strengths of the team rather than individual success.

It was a great display of management and more importantly, leadership skills they continue to learn.” Though the team’s two seniors will be missed, Greenwood is looking forward to having the next generation of bright minds in District 50 participate in years to come.

The Academic State Championship will be hosted at Lander University on March 5.

Submitted by Johnathan Graves