By Tim Leeds
The Havre High School Academic Challenge Team got off to a goodstart in its second year of competition, winning three rounds on Jan. 9 to qualify for state semifinals later this year.
The Havre team won the state competition in 2000.
The Havre team defeated Browning in its first round this year, 340 to 110; Whitewater in the semi-finals round 250 to 200, and Joplin-Inverness in the Great Falls League first day finals, 290 to 120. The rounds will be broadcast on KRTV, the Great Falls CBS-affiliated television station beginning in February, with the round against Browning airing at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10; against Whitewater at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, and against J-I at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 10.
Havre will face the Fairfield team, which defeated Malta in the second-round finals on Jan. 10, in the semi-finals for the state, the date of which will be announced later. The winner of that round will face the winner of a semi-finals between the winners of the Billings and Glendive leagues, whose competitions have not been conducted yet.
The Havre team, consisting of seniors Lindsey Brandt and Jayson Nissen, juniors Chris Barts and Nick Obie, sophomores Mario Pizzini and Matt Welch, and freshman Jeff Sprinkle, competed in Great Falls. The Great Falls League consists of 16 teams, with competition split into two single-elimination tournaments.
Carol Pleninger, who coached the team along with Gary Staudinger and Diane Way, said the team members had to work hard for their victory. They spent a lot of time working on the competition, giving up their lunch hours to do so, she said.
"It paid off," Pleninger said. "The competition was difficult. They pulled together as a team, learned to work together and listen to each other (through their practices.)"
Pleninger said the second round, against Whitefish, was especially close, with Whitefish actually leading early in the round.
Each team in the competition must consist of five members, one from each grade with one at-large representative and alternates. Brandt was the at-large representative, and Pizzini and Obie were alternates, but were substituted in for the second and third rounds.
The students had to ring in and answer questions on a variety of topics; geography; U.S. presidents; the U.S. Constitution; Montana people, places and history; questions about words beginning with"a," "b" or "c;" abbreviations and acronyms; science and technology; mathematics, and history of the ancient world. The competition is hosted by project coordinator Ian Marquand.
The program is sponsored by Montana Cooperatives, including Central Montana Communications, the Havre High sponsor, and Triangle Telephone and Hill County Electric Cooperative; Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative; Range Telephone Cooperative; Glacier Electric Cooperative; Marias River Electric Cooperative; Northern Telephone Cooperative, and Three Rivers Cooperative.