National Title Game Held Online Due To COVID-19:
ECMS Becomes Only Second School In Tournament History to 3Peat
Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson County Junior Academic Team has completed their 2020 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with their third consecutive national championship, which was accomplished in an online competition this year due to the virus.
The team competed in the Junior National Academic Championship from May 31 - June 6, where Edmonson County played it's way to a 5 - 1 record in the preliminary rounds and earned the #3 seed in the National Playoffs.
During those playoffs, the Wildcats began to show their depth of knowledge and their ability to play under pressure, where they first competed against Orlando Christian from Florida. Edmonson County came away with the convincing victory by a score of 605 to 160. In the quarterfinals, they faced off against Winburn B from Lexington, KY. Again, Edmonson dominated from early on in the game and never looked back, winning by a final score of 535 to 245.
The semifinal match was against Upper Dublin, from Pennsylvania. The Wildcats took an early lead, but Upper Dublin made a late charge in the fourth quarter. The change wasn't enough and the Cats held on for the 485 to 420 victory.
In the national championship game, Edmonson County faced off against Emerson School from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The two teams met in the preliminary rounds, with Edmonson winning that game 390 to 245. In the finals, the game was back-and-forth from the first to last question. In an unprecedented ending, the scored was tied 445 to 445. The executive director of the National Academic Association, Chip Beall, stated that a championship game that ended in a tie would not go to overtime, but instead both teams would be named national champions.
This is the third consecutive national championship for Edmonson County. Director Beall stated that Edmonson County became only the second academic team to ever win three straight junior division national championships, joining Longfellow Middle School from Virginia (2009-2011).
"It is an honor to be named national champions," said Coach Nick Skaggs. "There are several amazing academic team programs across the country that never win a national championship, yet we have been fortunate enough to be named national champions each of the past three years. These kids have continued to work hard and kept their focus through some very tough times. They were sad when the state tournament was canceled, but they looked forward to the opportunity to prove that we are still the best team in the nation."
The National Academic Association allows for junior division teams to play up to two ninth graders along with their traditional 6th - 8th grade students. Joining this year's ECMS team was ninth grader Brody Johnson, who was MVP of the 2019 National Tournament. The team members of the national championship team were Brody Johnson, Brayden Johnson, Evy Bolton, Lola Bolton, Brycen Daniels, Emma Sackett, Lyla Wood, Ian Dooley, Ace Daugherty, Ashton Johnson, Emberlei Stevens, and Kennedy Webb. The team is coached by Nick Skaggs, Alan Florence and Keela Skaggs.
ECMS Principal Brandon Prunty discussed his pride for this year's team.
"For the last several weeks, they've continued to have virtual practices online to prepare for nationals," he said. "All their hard work and preparation has paid off for them yet again. Being national champions for three years in a row is beyond impressive, but they've worked hard and they deserve it."
Edmonson County Middle School finished the season with a record of 38 wins and only 9 losses. They won the district championship, region championship, qualified for the state tournament (which was later canceled because of COVID-19), and won the national championship.