The official 5-AAAAA champions won the Georgia Academic Team Association’s Varsity State Tournament at Ola High School in McDonough after competing against the most competitive academic teams from across the state.
The Etowah team defeated every school it came up against with a 9-0 record for the day, beating out top schools like Chattahoochee, Norcross, Walton and Druid Hills.
Team members competing in the championship tournament are Sydney Carlson, Lindsey Dolhan, Duncan Morgan, Dylan Morgan, Lucas Read and Craig Wineman.
Academic Team coach Christina Hammonds, who also teaches Honors English at Etowah, said the students practice after school once a week but a majority of the memorization of questions requires intensive individual study.
“There are websites where they can get the questions and study, but it’s really about going to the competition, taking notes and listening,” the six-year coach said. “A lot of questions show up over and over so when they miss something, they write it down and keep their notes to study.”
She said her team of six is excited that all of the hard work has paid off and they now have the opportunity to compete against 255 other state winners at the National Academic Quiz Tournament, May 24 to 26 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
“They kind of have an ongoing momentum and they’re getting the confidence to break their limits and their own records,” Hammonds said.
With graduation the day before the Memorial Day Weekend competition, Hammonds said it says a lot about the team’s dedication. She said with the team’s Top 25 national ranking, they hope to at least place within that range.
“It would be amazing considering all the quiz bowl teams in the United States,” she said.
Despite their success, the team is all about having a good time while competing.
After expressing a desire to wear velour suits to competitions, the team and school administrators compromised on track jackets and sweat bands to show team spirit.
One of the team’s seniors, Lucas Read, son of Board of Education Chair Janet Read, said it’s all in good fun.
“It started as a joke since all these other teams wore polos and looked official, while we were just there for fun,” Lucas said. “But eventually we became known for that and it was our identity.”
Lucas said even last year, after taking fourth in the state competition, the group still has a lot to prove. He said he hopes the team at least makes it to the Top 50 finalists.