By Tim Leeds
Havre High School rose to the top in it's first year competing in the Montana Academic Challenge.
The Havre team defeated the Chinook team 300-220 in a semi-final round, then beat the Dawson County High School team from Glendive 220 -170 in the finals.
The Glendive team defeated the Rapelje team 360-260 in its semi-final round.
Representing Havre at the challenge were freshman Matt Welch, son of Tom and June Welch; sophomore Chris Barts, son of Michael and Kathy Barts; junior Jayson Nissen, son of Charles Nissen and Amy Booker; senior Thea Maristuen, daughter of Chris and Keith Maristuen; team captain Tom Billingsley, son of Owen and Margaret Billingsley; alternates senior John Boucher, son of Patty and Terry Boucher; freshman Mario Pizzini, son of Robert and Mary Pizzini; and senior Nichole Borst, daughter of Brett and Annette Borst.
Havre chemistry teacher Carol Pleninger said. Pleninger, along with Havre High teachers Diane Way, Gary Staudinger and John Ita, has helped the team prepare for the event. The team has spent at least one lunch hour every week since Christmas preparing for the challenge.
The event is sponsored by the Montana Cooperative Association. Havre's sponsor was Central Montana Communications.
While Rapelje, representing the Billings League and sponsored by Triangle Telephone Cooperative, was also in its first year in the challenge, Havre's other two competitors are veterans.
Chinook, representing the Great Falls League along with Havre as an at-large team with no specific sponsors, had its third year in the final four. Dawson County High School, representing the Glendive League and sponsored by Midrivers Telephone Cooperative from Circle, has won its league championship for five consecutive years and was the two-time defending state champion.
"We've really got to hand it to these kids," Pleninger said.
She said their dedication and hard work really paid off, winning them the state championship in the first year of Havre's competition as it did.
The semi-final round against Chinook will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday on CBS affiliate KTRV- Channel 3 out of Great Falls. The final round against Dawson County High School will be seen at 4 p.m., Saturday, May 6 on all three broadcast sponsors in the leagues, including KRTV.