Havre team outscores Glendive by 110 points in championship round
By Tim Leeds
Havre High School's Montana Academic Challenge team won its second straight state title in its second year of competition yesterday.
Havre defeated Dawson County High School from Glendive in the final round, 300 to 190. The Havre team was seniors Lindsey Brandt and Jayson Nissen, juniors Chris Barts and Nick Obie, sophomores Mario Pizzini and Matt Welch, and freshman Jeff Sprinkle.
Coach Carol Pleninger said she was concerned the Havre team would be intimidated going into the round. Dawson, the winner of the Glendive League in league competition last January, defeated Roy High School, the winner of the Billings League, 450-140. But she said once the round started, it looked like Dawson may have been intimidated by Havre, not the other way around.
Pleninger said the finals was a really good match, with the scores fairly even early on. The first round of the match was low-scoring, with Havre at 30 and Dawson at 20. After the next round, the spread was only 30 points, with Havre at 120 and Dawson at 90. The spread was still 30 points after the fourth round as well.
"I was sweating bullets, but the kids were pretty calm," Pleninger said.
She said the Havre team didn't even let Dawson ring in during the fifth round, and ended up winning by 110 points.
Pleninger said the first match, against Fairfield, was also a good match, very close in the early round but with Havre taking the lead later on. Fairfield just wasn't able to catch up in the third and fourth rounds of the match, she said, resulting in the 200 point spread.
She said her concerns about the finals round came from the larger spread in the Dawson-Roy match, but that she thinks the speed and cooperation of the Havre team may have been more intimidating to the Dawson team.
"As far as quickness and things like that," she said. "(The Havre kids) did work really well together."
Pleninger said they now will have to go through the process to apply for next year's competition. She said in the first few years in the competition, now in its eighth season, once a team got into the competition it usually was back the next year. Entering the event has become much more competitive now, Pleninger said. Havre High will have to write a letter asking for sponsorship to compete again next year.
The program is sponsored by the Montana cooperatives association. Havre's Central Montana Communications was Havre High's sponsor this year. Other sponsors are Hill County Electric and Triangle Telephone Cooperative of Havre, Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative of Circle, Range Telephone Cooperative of Forsyth, Glacier Electric Cooperative of Cut Bank, Marias River Electric Cooperative of Shelby, Northern Telephone Cooperative of Sunburst, 3 Rivers Telephone Cooperative of Fairfield and Vision Net, Inc., of Great Falls.
Part of the sponsorship of the cooperatives is to provide trophies and cash prizes to the winners of the competitions. Havre High has established an account for any prizes won to provide money for future competitions in this and other academic events.