By Alan Sorensen
by Alan Sorensen
The Havre Daily News
Monday, May 17
TV viewers throughout the state watched Sunday morning as a Blue Sky High School quintet came up second best in the 1998-99 Montana Academic Challenge.
In only its second year of competition, the Blue Sky academic challenge team of seniors Jared Wendland and Ryan Patrick, junior Murry Warhank, sophomore Hanna Warhank, and freshman Cassidy Han defeated three teams on the way to the championship round against Dawson County High School of Glendive.
The Hi-Line squad dropped Valier, Chinook, and Stanford teams before winning its semi-final contest against Cut Bank by forfeit.
The Hingham and Rudyard kids fell to the defending champion Dawson County High School of Glendive in a tape-delayed finals that were telecast over KRTV Channel 3 of Great Falls at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. The final score was 290 to 190.
Coach Laurel Walker said the competition was actually held in Helena on Thursday, April 29.
We woke up to eight inches of new snow and it was just ugly, Walker said.
The Cut Bank team was turned back by blizzard conditions in Wolf Creek Canyon and was forced to forfeit the match with Blue Sky. Dawson County dispatched the Billings team in its semi-final match before taking on Blue Sky, who came in without the benefit of a warm-up match.
Walker said the trophy is on display in the school office window. It is bigger than the track trophy, so we havent moved it, she said.
Walker admitted that Blue Sky has had its share of successes throughout the year, co-oping with KG to win the state Class C six-man football title, and then performing exceptionally well in speech and drama at the state level.
Weve had a really successful year with all these really bright kids, Walker said. We took the state title in Class C speech and finished fourth in drama. We had won our division in both.
And then to go right into academic challenge and to do so well in that, it may have been one of our best competitive years so far.
Alternates for the team were junior Mike Jurenka, sophomore Lindsey Letang, and freshman Mark Hybner. The team mentor and bus driver was Ken Pettapiece from Chester.
It was just exciting, Walker said of the experience. The people were so nice all the way through. When we were in Helena, Ian Marquand, the moderator, had invited several people to be there.
The students got to meet State Auditor Mark OKeefe, Lt. Gov. Judy Martz, Secretary of State Mike Cooney, and others.
She said the students also got to walk around the old capitol before the renovation began. Several Blue Sky fans living in Helena, Livingston and other locations were able to attend and cheer the kids on, too, she said.
General questions in this years competition included:
American literature of Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Faulkner.
Vocabulary words with D, E, and F.
History of the 1960s.
Montana Academic Challenge is the only televised academic competition in the state. The program, begun in 1994, is sponsored by Montanas electrical and telephone cooperatives and independent communications providers.
Blue Skys telecasts were sponsored by Hill County Electric Cooperative Inc.
There was nothing in our literature that said we have to acknowledge it, Walker said of the cooperatives sponsorship, but we really appreciate it because it allowed us to shine.