Northmont Academic Challenge team sets sights on national ranking

As David Jones reads a question, eight young minds kick into gear searching for the answer.

As he calmly counts down the time available with his hand, they may confer or someone will indicate they have an answer.

More often than not they answered correctly during this particular practice by the Northmont Academic Challenge team.

The difficulty of many questions raised eyebrows of visitors to the after-school practice, while the team members took it all in stride. They’ve worked together for a series of competitions this school year and, for most, at least two years prior.

Jones, a district teacher and former team member himself, is the coach.

“We’ve got a good group,” Jones said of the team that participates in Academic Challenge, or Quiz Bowl, competitions in Ohio and several other states.

Northmont’s team is fourth best of the 20 teams active in the state, Jones said.

“We are trying to see how we rank against other states. My goal is to finish in the top 10 in the country in History Bowl nationals in April. I think we can do that,” he said.

The team in February won its eleventh straight GWOC title and qualified in January for the national history bee championship in Washington, D.C. next month. Last weekend, the team won its second straight and fifth overall state History Bowl championship, beating Beavercreek 310-80.

Team members include Zach Weeks, Jazlyn Simon, Samantha Street, Athena Dobles, Sean Scranton, Seth Eggleston, Amara Nwanoro and Reaghan Doppelt.

Street, a sophomore, is in her third year on the team.

“I really enjoy learning stuff outside of the school curriculum. This gives me the opportunity to do that,” she said.

Scranton, a sophomore, also is in his third year.

“I really like history, and I am surprisingly good at being a history player,” he said.

Jones said the students’ enthusiasm for travel with the team and competing keeps him involved in the program.

“It takes a lot of my free time on evenings and weekends, but seeing what the students get out of it is worth it to me,” he said.

Jones said people need to know how hard the students work.

“These are kids who study for fun and really like being able to grow their knowledge. More importantly, they also get to represent their school and this community and compete for Northmont,” he said. “Academic team usually doesn’t get a lot of attention because it really isn’t a ‘spectator sport,’ but I think these kids work as hard as any team in the school to improve at their craft.”

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