By Tim Leeds
The Havre High School Montana Academic Challenge team was in Helena this morning competing in the championship rounds of the event.
Seniors Lindsey Brandt and Jayson Nissen, juniors Chris Barts and Nick Obie, sophomores Mario Pizzini and Matt Welch, and freshman Jeff Sprinkle won the Great Falls League finals on Jan. 9 in Great Falls to qualify for the championship rounds.
Havre faced Fairfield High School, the other semifinalist from the Great Falls League, at 11 a.m. in the State Capitol Building. The winner of that round faced the winner of the face-off between the Billings and Glendive leagues, Roy High School and Dawson County High School in Glendive, which started at 10 a.m.
The Havre team went on to win the state finals last year, its first year competing in the event which is now in its eighth season.
Carol Pleninger, who coached this year's team with Gary Staudinger and Diane Way, said that the competition in the Great Falls League was difficult, but the hard work the students did preparing for it paid off. The students spent lunch hours at the high school practicing, answering sample trivia questions and learning to listen to each other and to work as a team.
Havre's first round on Jan. 9 was against Browning, which Havre won 340-110; then Whitewater, 250-200; and Joplin-Inverness in the final round, 290-120.
Each team must consist of five students from a single Montana school or consortium, and must be approved by the Academic Challenge in advance. Each team must have one student from each grade level and one at-large member from any grade. Alternate members may be substituted for any match.
All of the team members participated in different rounds in January, with Pizzini and Obie, the alternates, substituted in the second and third rounds.
Each match in the competition is broken into four segments; two open competitions where either team can ring in to answer a question, and timed competitions where each team is given a period of time to answer as many questions as they are able to.
Project Coordinator Ian Marquand hosts the event, and determines whether each answer given is correct or not and awards points accordingly. Only the previously selected team captain may give the team's answer on each question.
The questions range through a variety of academic subjects, such as geography; science; math; history; U.S. history; the U.S. Constitution, and the people, places and history of Montana.
The finals of the challenge is being recorded by KPAX-TV Productions out of Missoula, and will be broadcast by CBS-affiliated stations KRTV of Great Falls, KTVQ of Billings and KXGN of Glendive.