For the Edison High School Firelands Challenge team seven was a great number Thursday. The team is comprised of seven members. It earned a perfect score on seven of the regular categories in Thursday’s final championship round (as well as in their bonus team choice category). And, of course, the team took home the championship trophy for the seventh consecutive year — setting a new record yet again.
This was an unconventional win, however. Edison didn’t win any of the three individual matches that comprise the championship.
Huron High School won Thursday’s third and final match, which Edison hosted, beating the Chargers and the third team in the competition, Perkins High School, 52-48-23 respectively. Huron also won the second match, which it hosted on Feb. 14.
Perkins won the first match, which it hosted on Feb. 13.
However, because the academic competition’s champ is determined by cumulative points — not individual match winners — Edison took the crown. The final cumulative scores were Edison 131, Huron 126 and Perkins 91.
The Firelands Challenge board does not acknowledge any points for appeals that will not change the outcome of the championship, however, if it did, Edison would have won back points on three of its question categories. Had the points been applied, Edison not only would have won cumulatively, but also would have been the match winner instead of Huron.
The Chargers said this was one of the most difficult championships of any of its previous six. But the team saw the truth of its mantra when it cinched the win.
Adviser Shirley Wallrabenstein said the team had a quote team co-captain Morgan Otto kept reminding them of throughout the championship.
“’The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning,” Otto said quoting Brazillian soccer player Pelé.
Wallrabenstein, affectionately known as Mrs. Walley, said it was fitting because the whole championship was “especially difficult.”
“The two teams we played were very prepared and they gave us a run for our money,” she said. “It’s not over until it’s over but today we came out on top. This was more difficult for us than last year definitely, (and) more nerve wracking, but their hard work paid off and I couldn’t be more proud of any of them.”
Wallrabenstein, who helped in tracking the score for the third match, said she concentrates very hard so as not to react to her team’s successes or difficulties when she’s helping with scoring. But after such a difficult first half of the match, where her team missed half of its questions, the adviser said she couldn’t help herself when they finally pulled ahead.
“I’m so tense after (the match) because I’m sitting there and trying not to react but when they went ahead I applauded,” she said. “I had to applaud. And I probably shouldn’t have, but that was the defining moment. ... I’m very proud of each and every one of my team members. They’ve worked extremely hard. We played two outstanding teams. I’m just kind of numb right now — just wow.”
Otto and co-captain Isabel Chasney said they were “extremely relieved” after the scores came in.
“We’re very happy right now. It was a hard match,” Chasney said. “It’s very weird winning the championship without winning any championship matches.”
“There were stressful moments and I’d say this is the most hard-fought time that we’ve had to go through a championship round,” Otto added. “It’s very rewarding. Now all of our hard work has paid off and it’s shown.”
Huron pulled ahead in the first half of Thursday’s match, sitting in a position to take the title a few times — creating a true tug-of-war. The intensity at times was palpable as both teams attempted to buzz in for any points that could be accumulated through steals and bonus rounds.
“This has been one heck of a championship,” event’s emcee William Muthig said afterward.
The Edison team members said they were most nervous during that first section of the competition “because we were missing a few things here and there.” It wasn’t until the last minute Otto said he felt like they could breath a sigh of relief.
“I’d say going into the final lightning round (was when we could finally relax),” he said, “because we did the math and no matter what Huron did they weren’t going to be able to get nine points. Only eight points can be obtained in the lightening round so as long as we were careful and didn’t lose any points there was no way they’d catch up to us. That’s when I finally felt like I could relax.
As seniors, this will be the co-captains’ last year in the competition. Chasney hasn’t chosen a college yet, but said she plans to major in political sciences. Otto intends to major in mechanical engineering at Ohio University before going into the automotive field.
“And I’d definitely like to continue this because I know (Ohio University) has a ton of clubs down there and even if they don’t have one like this I’d like to have some sort of quizbowl team,” he said. “I just love working hard to try and beat other people. I know that sounds condescending, but it’s a really good feeling once you’ve done it.”
Looking ahead to next year, the co-captains said they’re confident in the rest of the team and their ability to carry the winning streak — despite this being the other five members’ first year on the team.
“They’ve been a great help this year so I’m sure they’ll do great things,” Chasney said.
And, of course, none of the success would have been possible without the undying support of Mrs. Walley.
“I’m so thankful for Mrs. Walley,” Otto said. “She does all the current events, were so organized because of her. She doesn’t know history very well ... but she does her best to try and help us in absolutely everything. I think she’s on top of the world right now.”
“She does so much. She tries to brush it all off on us, but she does so much for us and the team,” Chasney added.