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Morgantown High School captures second consecutive Academic Showdown championship

West Virginia Press Association Staff Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In a nail biter that saw an overtime round and a forced final match, Morgantown High School edged out Bluefield to claim its second consecutive Academic Showdown state title. However, unlike in 2023, it was the competitor’s from Morgantown’s Team One who claimed the right to call themselves this year’s champions. 

Although Bluefield had lost a matchup earlier in the day, they fought their way to the finals as the winners of the Consolation Bracket. Morgantown’s Team One, who took the Winner’s Bracket on the strength of five-straight victories, lost an overtime heartbreaker to Bluefield, forcing the 27th and deciding match of the double-elimination tournament. 

Morgantown’s five point lead at the half ballooned into a 16 point lead by the end, for a final score of 27 to 11. The team consisting of Sawyer Rudy, Preston Hedrick, Julia Oliverio, Agatha Dahle, Logan Ross, and Coach Alex Godfrey now join their sister team from Morgantown, and the team from George Washington High School in Charleston as the third winners of the Academic Showdown State Championship. 

Bluefield High School – Nathan Yost, Quinn Brown, Liam Dietz, Titus Holcomb, Jack Schroeder, with Coach Taylor Bulson – took second place, while Wheeling Park High School – Patricia Jeffers, Grant Kenemond, Kathryn Prather, Kaleb Trimmer, Ally Johnson, and Coach Elizabeth Jeffers – finished third. Rounding out the field for Tuesday’s finale were teams from Huntington, Winfield, Spring Mills, George Washington, Buffalo, Grafton, Bridgeport, James Monroe, and Westside High Schools. Also in attendance to cheer on their team were the Westside High School cheerleaders, and entertaining the audience was the Wheeling Park High School band.

Described by the W.Va. Department of Education as an “academic head-to-head competition that brings West Virginia high school students from across the state together for regional matchups,” the Academic Showdown is now in its third year of active competition. The competition is modeled after a similar program from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area called “It’s Academic,” of which Senate President and W.Va.’s Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair was an avid fan growing up. 

In a written message to students, Blair said, “You truly are West Virginia’s best and brightest, and I am thrilled to have a competition where you can showcase your talents.”

“Regardless of who comes out on top, you have all done an amazing job,” Blair added.

The 2023 season boasted 36 teams. On the day of the 2023 finale, Blair promised that, “Next year is going to be twice as big.” The current season of the showdown began with 90 teams from 50 high schools in 31 counties, competing in five separate regional events at universities across West Virginia. The top  16 teams then advanced to the double-elimination championship round in Charleston. 

“We have grown immensely in three years,” W.Va. Superintendent of Schools Michelle Blatt told the players prior to the start of competition. “We have grown from 21 teams, to 90 teams that are competing this year. This was Sen. Blair’s vision, and he’s so excited about the growth that we’ve seen. He’s already challenged us to expand more for next year.”

For more information about the Academic Showdown, contact Coordinator Karn Linville at 304-558-5325, or via email at [email protected]. Information can also be found by visiting the West Virginia Department of Education’s website, at wvde.us

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