Yet, Edison — the school that has won the academic competition’s past six titles — heads into the final round with the cumulative lead.
That’s because host Huron High School dominated Thursday’s match, earning 46 points. Edison finished second with 34 while Perkins had 17.
It was a reversal of the championship round’s opening match, when host Perkins dominated and Huron struggled.
Barring any appeals, the cumulative scores put Edison in first place with 80 points, following by Huron (73) and Perkins (66).
The final match will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at Edison High School, with the cumulative scores determining whether the Chargers will keep their crown — setting a new 7th-consecutive-year championship record — or if Huron or Perkins can steal the title.
Thursday’s match in Huron was a challenging one, with no one able to correctly answer the questions posed during the vocabulary and physical sciences categories. And each team missed three or more of the 11 regular categories. The event’s emcee, William Muthig, said the difficulty was bumped up a little since it is a championship match.
“When I contact the writers, I tell them when it comes to team choice and the championship they can ramp it up because these are the top teams,” he said. “There’s a variety of ways you can do that. Like with American government (questions) we saw a two-parter. They had to identify with the Supreme Court, what right was involved, but then also identify the amendment. In the regular round, it might just have been one of those.”
Muthig said the players’ determination and scores being neck and neck adds to the excitement of the championship.
“This match really evened things up and brought Huron back into play, which is important for Huron and nice they were able to do that in front of their home crowd,” Muthig said.
Huron players Wyatt Kromer, Katlyn Vandergoot and Ronnie Eytchison — all seniors — agreed.
“We were excited because last match we didn’t do so well, but this match we made a lot of ground,” Kromer said. “I think this puts us in a place that if we have another good match at Edison, we could take the lead and win it all.”
“Yesterday it was looking a little rough because we were down by about 20 points, but after today we’re within striking distance,” Eytchison added. “We just studied on areas we needed to study and hoped for the best.”
Muthig said the real importance lies in the cumulative scores though, since those will determine the ultimate winner after the third and final match. With just a seven-point margin for first place, anything could happen.
During every match each team has the opportunity to take a bonus team choice question, where it chooses the subject matter from a list provided by Muthig. If answered correctly, the question will earn them six points. However, if wrong, the team will have two points deducted from its score. Edison chose music theory Thursday and correctly answered what adviser Shirley Wallrabenstein called “a little more difficult” of a question. However, it was then announced an error had been made as that question had already been asked earlier in the season, disqualifying it from use, and the Chargers would have to take a stab at a new question in the same category to earn the points.
“It really shook us up because you’re relieved and then you have to go back. And then the second question they had, of course, was so much more difficult,” Wallrabenstein said.
Team co-captain Morgan Otto said he felt the team “pulled through with what we needed to,” but also noted that he was “shaking the rest of the match” after the team choice. Edison played the match down one player who was out sick, and had other players who were playing while battling illness themselves.
“We were all kind thrown a bit, but we came around and we’re OK with where we’re at,” co-captain Isabel Chasney said.
Wallrabenstein said her team did “very well” and said they’re ready to take a breather and then “amp up for the home match.” As always, the adviser is proud and confident in her students’ abilities and said this team has proven it is “super dedicated.”
“I hadn’t planned on having practice (Wednesday night), but my team said ‘Let’s have a practice,’” she said adding they stayed late after school to fit time in for preparation in between the first two rounds. “They know what they need to do and they really work hard. ... They’re great. They’re awesome. They’re beautiful. They’re fantastic. I can’t say enough about my team.”
Heading into the last match the teams have their plans in place.
Huron said it intends to study more “pore over notes,” reread the assigned book and remind themselves “don’t stress out too much.”
Edison noted this isn’t its first rodeo and that it will draw on past experiences.
“We’ve had close (championships) before,” Otto said. “(Chasney’s and my) first one in our sophomore year was also an extremely close match. ... I definitely feel like it keeps us on our toes and forces us to do what we need to do because you can’t just have one great match. We just have to stay consistent.”
“We’re definitely excited for our home crowd,” Chasney added.