Courtesy of ECMS Academic Team
The Edmonson County Middle School academic team advanced to the Kentucky Association for Academic Competitions Governor’s Cup State Finals in quick recall, and several ECMS students advanced in testing events. The quick recall team overcame serious challenges from competing schools and winter weather to win both the district and regional championships in order to advance to the state competition.
St. Joseph School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, served as the district host. On the first day of district, the ECMS future problem solving team and English composition writers competed against students from Bowling Green Junior High School, Butler County, Moss Middle School, and St. Joseph School. Prior to the event, the ECMS future problem solving team had prepared for the district topic of disappearing languages. Students’ research made them aware of various challenges and possible solutions to the fact that nearly 50% of earth’s languages may disappear in this century. The ECMS team composed of Breanna Dennison, Taylor Dooley, Ava Kate Lich, and Kaylee Russell placed second in future problem solving. Ava Kate Lich advanced to regional competition with her argumentative essay from the English composition competition.
The winter weather delayed the remainder of the event for over a week. When the district tournament resumed, students competed in written assessment one evening after school and in quick recall the following evening. Several ECMS students placed in the district testing competition. Gavin Dooley placed first in language arts and second in arts and humanities testing. Eli Pedigo gained first place in social studies and fourth place in science. Arey Durbin placed fourth in arts and humanities. Gavin Rose earned fourth place in social studies. Meredith Hennion placed fifth in language arts. All students placing in the top five advanced to the regional competition.
The ECMS quick recall team defeated Butler County by a score of 31 to 8 in round one. In round two, ECMS held a five-point lead against Bowling Green Junior High at halftime and cruised to victory in the second half. ECMS had a bye in round 3. The ECMS team faced a recharged Bowling Green team in round 4. Bowling Green opened the game aggressively and had a 17 to 13 half-time lead. ECMS never sustained a long enough scoring run to overcome Bowling Green and lost by a final score of 25 to 28. The championship game was another story. The ECMS team captain, Eli Pedigo, dominated play in the first half with seven tossup questions. The half-time score showed a 19 to 8 ECMS lead. The entire ECMS quick recall team played well in the second half, and ECMS won the championship game by a score of 34 to 21. The district championship earned ECMS its 26th consecutive trip to regional quick recall competition.
Bazzell Middle School of Scottsville, Kentucky, served as the regional Governor’s Cup host. After a snow delay, the teams competed in the regional future problem solving and English composition on Thursday, February 11, 2016. The team wrote about challenges to helping populations recover from natural disasters. The team’s efforts resulted in a fourth place regional finish, the best for the ECMS in several years.
Four ECMS students placed in regional testing events on Saturday, February 13th, and will advance to the KAAC State Finals. In social studies, Eli Pedigo placed first and Gavin Rose placed third. Arey Durbin placed fourth in arts and humanities testing. Sixth grader Meredith Hennion placed fourth in language arts.
The regional quick recall competition proved to be a combination of a mental marathon and an emotional roller coaster. Warren East defeated ECMS in round one of regional play. Warren East held a 14 to 12 lead at halftime. ECMS started the second half strongly to take a 19 to 15 lead, but Warren East did not fold under pressure and countered with a seven point scoring run. The final score indicated a 25 to 23 loss for ECMS. Many people at the tournament were stunned at the ECMS loss. Others were overjoyed because they felt the loss was the end for ECMS that day.
ECMS recovered from its loss and played well in round two. ECMS outscored Russellville 18 to 4 in the first half of play and ended the game with a 27 to 11 victory.
Glasgow Middle School fell to ECMS in round three. ECMS took a commanding 21 to 10 half-time lead over Glasgow. Seventh grader Sarah Stewart led the team with 10 tossup points in the game, as ECMS won by a final score of 37 to 25.
ECMS faced Bowling Green in a classic quarterfinal match in round four. Spectators watched the score intently in the first half as the teams tied three times and swapped the lead four times with ECMS holding on to a 19 to 16 lead. The competition remained fierce in the second half. With about 1 minute left in the second half, ECMS held a three point, 29 to 26 lead. Bowling Green correctly answered questions 30 and 31 to close the gap to one point. Next, the Bowling Green team answered question 32 to tie the score and send the game into overtime. KAAC overtime rules provide victory for the first team to score five points. In overtime, team captain Eli Pedigo buzzed in and correctly answered three tossup questions while his team mates helped on two bonus questions to gain a 5 to 2 overtime victory.
In the semi-finals game, ECMS once again faced Warren East. Gavin Dooley scored the first point of the game, and ECMS never surrendered the lead. ECMS held a commanding 23 to 9 lead at half-time. The Wildcat academic team continued to play well on its way to a 37 to 19 victory.
In order to win the championship, ECMS would have to win back-to-back games over Drakes Creek, a team undefeated for the entire season. Drakes Creek took the lead in the early minutes of the match. At question 15, ECMS tied the score at 5 to 5. ECMS took a 10 point lead in the remainder of the first half with the score board showing a 20 to 10 half-time score. The Wildcat team continued the second half with strong play to win by a final score of 37 to 24.
The championship game proved to be very different for the wildcats. The slower pace of the game proved to be a challenge for ECMS. Drakes Creek started the game with a 7 to 0 run. ECMS coach Greg Grey called timeout to refocus his team. The team responded with a 6 to 1 scoring run, but Drakes Creek ended the first half with a 12 to 7 lead. At question 22 in the second half, Drakes Creek held a 5 point lead with less than 3 minutes left in play. ECMS correctly answered questions 24, 26, 27, 28, and 29 to tie the score at 22 to 22 with 22 seconds left on the clock. The moderator read, “This dish of finely chopped fermented cabbage,” before the Drakes Creek captain interrupted and buzzed in to respond kimchi. The moderator stated that the response was incorrect. Sarah Stewart buzzed in with the response of sauerkraut, and the moderator stated correct as time expired. ECMS won with a final score of 23 to 22.
Coach Greg Gray released the following statement:
Mental toughness is what separates good teams from champions. In both our district and regional competitions, our players had to overcome numerous challenges to prevail. Snow in our area delayed both the district and regional events and cost our team several practices. Additionally, our preparation time for regional was cut because of delays to district. The team members’ success in testing at both levels reflected their dedication to the team with both afterschool and home practice. At district, we overcame our loss to Bowling Green by inspired play by Captain Eli Pedigo. At region, we overcame a first round loss with a wonderful combined team effort. Someone asked one ECMS alumni if our first round loss was a new strategy on our part. His response was, “I know Greg Grey and his coaching staff well enough to know they never plan to lose.” Our coaching staff has talked to the team about always playing to win rather than playing not to lose, and that is what we did. Our region has several very good teams in it this year. Bowling Green and Warren East would both be going to state in quick recall if they were in about half of the remaining regions in the state. Glasgow and South Warren have good teams as well. I really do not like to single out individuals for recognition in quick recall, but honor is due to some of our players. Seventh grader Sarah Stewart may have been the regional tournament MVP. She contributed with many points after the first game and scored the two final tossups including the game winner in the championship game. Gavin Dooley played exceptionally well in the final two games against Drakes Creek. He came up with a “Hail Mary” math answer in the final game that really made a difference. Our team captain, Eli Pedigo, provided calm and steady leadership throughout our regional run. Our final quick recall starter, Arey Durbin, scored points when they were really needed in nearly every game. While individuals deserve recognition, it was really team play that made all the difference. No matter how difficult or stressful the situation might have been, every ECMS player remained positive and supportive to the team and his or her teammates. I can never recall a more challenging regional quick recall competition for ECMS. Finally, I want to praise a team that has made tremendous improvement since our season began in October. Meredith Hennion, Gavin Rose, and Arey Durbin made tremendous strides in each of their testing events to qualify for state. We will continue our preparations for our next challenge, the state finals.”