Even after four years of continued success, it’s the end of a career few seniors ever dreamed of. When the Evergreen High School quiz team takes the stage at the Small School National Championship Tournament April 28-30, for the first time in school history, it’ll be a bittersweet ending to a string of impressive seasons.
The path began in December of 2014, when then sophomores Dillon Bick, Austin Cobb, Lauren Mayhugh, and Mike Pupos helped lead the team to winning both the Fulton County and the inaugural Fulton/Henry County tournments.
That same season, the team would go on to be the overall regular season Northern Buckeye Academic League (NBAL) champions, another first for the school, and the NBAL post-season tournament champions. The team’s first appearance on Bowling Green State University’s BrainGame would see a run all the way to the championship match, losing against Toledo’s St. Francis de Sales High School.
The next season, the team would go on to again be crowned the NBAL regular season champions and take second at the post-season tournament. Qualifying to the regional tournament, the team would place fourth, topping their sixth place finish a year earlier. Progressing to the semifinals of the BrainGame, the Vikings took a heartbreaking loss from a revengeful Ottawa Hills, who had been beat by Evergreen the previous year.
In the most recent 2016-2017 season, the quizzers would take runner-up at the Fulton/Henry County Tournament, as well as finish second in both the NBAL regular season and postseason tournament. Falling just short of qualifying to regionals for a third year in a row, coach Bill Blanchong decided to try an alternative route instead.
Over the school’s spring break, the team participated in an entirely different formatted tournament for a chance to qualify for the national tournament. Earning a third place finish and the overall top small school (out of schools with less than 500 enrolled in grades 9-12), was enough for Evergreen to secure their spot on the national stage.
The Small School National Championship Tournament will take place April 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in a suburb of Chicago, Ill. The tournament registration fee and the majority of lodging costs has been approved by the Evergreen Local Schools Board of Education, team members are expected to pay for the remainder of the hotel cost and incidentals.
The trip will provide an opportunity for culture, competition, and fun, giving team members the chance to expand their horizons.
“I hope to be competitive with other schools from around the country. I want the students to enjoy the experience and enjoy Chicago, many of them have never been there,” Blanchong said.
In addition to this year’s third and fourth year senior class, the team is made up of seniors Jamie Hausknecht and Catherine Krempec, juniors Jonah Blanchard, Patrick Brandt, Grace Bryson, Kenny Cutcher, Nick Eckleberry, and Harleigh Snyder, sophomores Jacob Baranowski, Trevor Cobb, Adam Dumas, and Kyle Peet, and freshman Chandler Ruetz.
Out of the 94 schools in competition at the national tournament, Evergreen will be joined by local rival Swanton. The two boasted some of the best records and closest match ups in the NBAL this season.
Whatever comes their way in Chicago, the vikes are proud of the legacy they’ve already left behind.
“It’s incredible. I am proud of the students and their intelligence, teamwork, and dedication to the team. I am excited to have Evergreen be on the national stage and excited to see the kids represent our school,” Blanchong said.
Reach Cory Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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