They departed in darkness and arrived at night. These bookends served as parentheses to the Academic Team’s first tournament of the year. Between them, Bus #2 transported thirteen students— nine of whom were first time players for this team— through the blooming cotton fields of Darlington to the Governor’s School for Math and Science in Hartsville. Our students arrived at one of our state’s most selective schools and felt the ‘flex’ of a meticulous and impressive campus populated by the Juniors and Seniors who board there. The Carlanna Hendrick Academic Tournament (CHAT) features many of the state’s top Quiz Bowl teams. CHAT was a bit historic for Porter-Gaud in that we had never before attended this tournament nor fielded a JV Team. The day would prove memorable.
Mrs. Downing and Mr. Greenwell, focusing on experience and team chemistry in the fall (as usual), divided our strengths into two varsity teams. Team A, composed of Senior Victoria Johnson (C) and Juniors Luke Flynn, Daniel Newlands, and new arrival Owen Seldon, would complete morning pool play with a 4/5 victory ratio… and yet, unbelievably, miss the championship round based on accrued points (evidence of the extremely high quality of the field). Team B was comprised of Seniors Ballard Morton and Courtenay White (C) with two new Sophomores: Sarah Allen and DuBose Egleston; the ‘Killer Bs’ would also qualify for the competition bracket with a strong overall point count. Surprisingly— but not really surprisingly— our JV Team also qualified for the second afternoon bracket (Porter-Gaud fielded three of six teams in the competitive middle bracket). Unsurprisingly, some of the closest matches of the afternoon were Civil Wars that affirmed— narrowly— our A, B, and C/JV rankings.
The eventual winner of the championship bracket, Thomas Jefferson Latin A, would also secure the best Small School of the selective sixteen participants (P-G was runner-up). However, our decision to take three full teams would appear to have been justified. Our A Team proved of Championship Round quality, our B Team confirmed that they are hardly ‘second’ and reminded everyone that team lines are very much fluid, and our C/JV team not only managed to displace several other strong schools’ B teams from the competition round in the afternoon, they would earn Top JV team honors (JV = Freshmen/Sophomore only). While our Academic Team has enjoyed a precocious, if short, history of collecting plaques at SCISA, the Top JV Team trophy is our first ‘hardware’ in an open tournament. The future looks bright thanks to a commendable first effort from Sophomore Sophie Levenson and Freshmen David Axon, Camille Greenwell, Ethan Lehrman, and Daniel Nirenblatt.
We first crossed Lake Marion with the sun rising on our right and returned— much delayed but well-fulfilled— with the sunset also on our right. The bus advertises who we are in foot-high letters as the Academic Team travels South Carolina. As much as accomplishment and experience matter for Quiz Bowl, we are all the more proud of these students who serve as ambassadors for our school, affirming our academic renown while establishing a reputation for polite good-sportsmanship. They are worth the drive.
Our Academic Team is populated by the available students with the highest number of cumulative practice/tournament points; as our competitiveness grows, specialization will become an important factor. For now, come out to practice Thursday after school to pad your own numbers in your quest for a spot. SCISA Regionals is sneaking up on us: 3 October.
Posted by Meagan Downing (aka "The Physics Maven" aka "Quiz Mom") and Christopher Greenwell (aka "Her Jester")
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