Wildcats Boast First Ever National Title
Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson County Middle School Academic Team has just been named 2018 National Champions after final scoring has been completed for the tournament system.
According to Head Coach Greg Grey, the championship is similar to a college football bowl system with different criteria. The stats and performances from each of the four regional champions are then compared in order to name the final national winner.
ECMS defeated Paideia Middle School from the Atlanta area in the New Orleans championship game on Sunday, May 27, 2018. It was their 8th win in a row during the tournament and they finished as the only team in the New Orleans competition undefeated. It's also important to note that the Wildcats were able to defeat high profile, private schools in the tournament. Many were stunned by the performance of the Edmonson County, which of course is in a rural, public school system.
Chip Beall, the director of National Academic Championship, informed Mr. Grey this morning that they had officially been named Junior National Academic Champions. According to Mr. Beall, EC edged out Johnson County Middle School (KY) for the National Championship. Johnson County won the Orlando division of the tournament with a perfect 8-0. Edmonson County averaged 414 points per game, while Johnson County averaged 393 points per game.
Based on the rules of tournament, the selection committee has named Edmonson County Middle School as national champions.
Coach Grey reflected on this year's team and discussed how the entire season has been a very long term investment.
"We started practicing in August of 2017 for this tournament and we wound up playing in May and still weren't named national champions until June of this year, so that speaks of just the time investment for just one year," he said.
“Even though Jonas Miller and Brody Johnson led the team in scoring and the tournament staff named Jonas New Orleans MVP, I want to stress that every point by every player really mattered,” he added. "It was truly a team effort. Probably without some points scored at particular times from Taylor Dooley and Meredith Hennion when they did, we probably wouldn't be number one right now, we'd be number two."
Grey said the major difference maker for this team is that they were consistent all year long.
"They never gave up and no matter what the situation has been, they never seem disturbed or shook up. They've just always been able to keep their calm."
Principal Brandon Prunty said the National Championship is a very fitting ending to the already successful season the team has enjoyed.
"Mr. Grey and his coaching staff work tirelessly to prepare these students for the various competitions in which they participate during the year," he said. "To see the entire group rewarded for their hard work is wonderful."
He also added that being able to accomplish such a feat as a small public school in a rural area makes the news much sweeter.
"They outperformed many, many private schools who have virtually unlimited resources. It's all a true testament to how special this group is, including Mr. Grey. I'm definitely a proud principal."
Johnson County, in Paintsville, was named runner-up. It's also a small, rural public Kentucky school.
Now that this season has concluded, the bar has been set at the highest rung. We asked Mr. Grey where the team is going from here:
"Tomorrow I'm taking three middle schoolers to academic camp and we start getting ready for next season," he said.
He has his sights set on winning the state recall tournament, a competition in which they've come up just short, and of course, defending their national title.
"I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of this team. I probably spend more time with them than any of their family members, other than their parents. We practice, go to tournaments on weekends, do things together, and this year has been special. It's really pretty amazing."
Grey said the team plans to construct a parade float for the September Lions Club Fair parade and a new national championship banner is likely coming soon. He also said stay on the lookout for championship t-shirts and merchandise that will hopefully be available soon.