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ILHS wins state Academic Challenge title

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by David Bender/Special to Carolina Gateway
Indian Land High School won its second State Academic Challenge Championship on March 29.
Since the Indian Land team’s inception in 2011, it has proved to be perennially strong. It won its first state championship in 2013. Since then, the program has competed at the highest level at the regional and state competitions, finishing second in the state in 2017.
“This is our second state win in several years, which I think illustrates the quality of both the staff and students here at Indian Land High,” coach Matt Hodge said.
An Academic Challenge match tests the teams’ knowledge in math, literature and grammar, history, science, geography and a potpourri of other topics. In the Old English Consortium, which includes Lancaster County schools, the norm is four-round matches.
For two rounds, the five-member team collaborates before giving an answer. In the last two rounds, a player on either team buzzes in their answers without input from the other team members. Each correct answer scores one point. Players must answer the questions within 10 seconds. The questioner reads each question once.
Ideally, teammates will have different areas of expertise, giving the team a better opportunity to answer more questions.
The state competition, hosted by Winthrop University, was held in Withers Hall.
The state semi-final round pitted Indian Land against Latta High School, which won the 2018 state title.
The 2019 Latta team arrived determined to defend its title. Halfway into the first round against Indian Land, it was well on its way, forging a 4-point lead. Indian Land rallied to tighten the score to 6-7 by the end of the first round, which was tied 12-12 after two rounds. In round 3, the first buzzer round, Indian Land surged to a commanding 24-18 lead. But in the final round, Latta rallied impressively, closing to within a single point before Indian Land pulled out the 30-26 victory. Madison Williams and Natasha Ramesh tied as top scorers for that game.
Indian Land’s semi-final victory set up an exciting match against Camden High School, staged in the upper auditorium of Withers Hall. In the first round, the lead changed hands several times, ending in a 6-6 tie. In round two, Indian Land took the lead at 16-12, and its steady play maintained that 4-point advantage by the end of the third round, 24-20. But Camden had a strong team, which refused to concede. In the last round, the Camden team gained momentum, slowly creeping up on Indian Land. Camden took a 1-point lead in the final round, and was threatening to widen its lead. At this tense moment in the competition, it was Indian Land’s turn to rally. It scored points on four consecutive questions, with each point scored by a different player – James Bender, Lauren Liebman, Ramesh and Williams. The rally secured Indian Land’s 30-28 victory and its second state academic championship. Bender was the high scorer of the final match.
“Our team has worked hard this season. This was evident in winning season, regionals and state competitions,” said coach Jamie Johnston. “All team members are important to this team and are a great representation of what Indian Land offers to their students.” 
Indian Land’s final regular season record was 14-3, with no losses in their division. By the end of the regular season, Indian Land’s high scorers were Bender, Ramesh and Williams.
Regional win
On March 21, the Indian Land team was seeded first at the regional competition at Liberty Baptist Church in York. Its regional semi-final victory set up a match against Fairfield Central High School in the finals. The Indian Land team defeated Fairfield in the 2018 regional championship and scored two decisive victories in the 2019 regular season. The trend continued in the 2019 regional final, with Indian Land pulling out a 13-6 victory. Regional matches were only two rounds. That victory earned Indian Land the chance to compete in the state championship.
Headed by captains Zach Kaim and Liebman, both juniors, the ILHS team included juniors Williams and Ramesh, sophomores Bender, Katie Chung, Macie Johnston, Lorelai Schellberg, Mya Petty and Hunter Koenig, and freshmen Jason Connors and Aidan Urquhart.

Sample questions

Those unfamiliar with Academic Challenge competitions often ask for sample competition questions. Here are four sample questions:
A) In the iconic poem, “Casey at the Bat,” what word in the last line contains a diphthong?
B) What negotiator and signer of the Treaty of Paris also served as the first Supreme Court chief justice?
C) What is the name of the synovial joint in which the rounded surface of one bone fits into the compression of another bone?
D) What is the name of the river which, at a length of 6,300 kilometers, is the longest in Asia?
Answers to the sample questions above: A) “out.” B) John Jay. C) Ball-and-socket joint. D) Yangtze River.

Answers to the sample questions above: A) “out.” B) John Jay. C) Ball-and-socket joint. D) Yangtze River.