County academic teams advance to March 14 championship
Downingtown, PA – Three high school academic teams will be competing for the Chester County Academic Competition championship after winning their recent semifinal matches. The championship will take place at the Technical College High School Brandywine Campus in Downingtown on March 14 starting at 7:00 p.m., and will determine who will represent Chester County at the state competition.
The West Chester East, Conestoga, and Unionville academic teams have all secured a spot in the varsity academic competition championship. Three junior varsity teams will also advance to the championship: Downingtown East, Conestoga and West Chester East.
In order to compete in the semifinals, teams had to first accumulate the highest number of points during the regular season. Starting in October 2012, 21 Chester County high schools began competing against one another in a "college-bowl" format where students answered a wide variety of challenging questions. The subject areas include literature, math, science, American and world history, geography, and current events.
The Chester County Academic competition, now in its 29th year, is coordinated by CCIU and sponsored by Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union.
The semifinals kicked off with two junior varsity matches featuring the six top-scoring teams during the regular season.
The first junior varsity match consisted of Downingtown East, Great Valley, and West Chester East, during which Downingtown East emerged victorious and, thus, secured a spot in the JV finals. Conestoga won the second JV match against Downingtown West and Unionville.
Junior varsity rules state that the two semifinal winners and the next highest scoring team advance to the junior varsity finals, meaning that Downingtown East, Conestoga and West Chester East will all compete in the final JV match.
Following a lunch intermission, the top nine varsity teams geared up for their matches.
Match one proved to be a hard-fought match between West Chester East, Phoenixville, and West Chester Rustin. However, first-ranked West Chester East was able to gain an early lead and hold on to it throughout the match. Final score: West Chester East – 140; Phoenixville – 75; West Chester Rustin – 95.
West Chester East senior and team captain Mihir Yavalkar is confident in his team’s chances going into the finals.
“Last year, we made it to the finals as well and lost in a tiebreaker at the end of the match against Devon Prep so we know what it feels like to reach the finals and feel that kind of pressure. But I think this year is going to be our year – I think we have a really good shot,” said Yavalkar, who added that he is proud of the fact that his JV team will also be joining them in the finals.
Match two of the varsity semifinals saw second-ranked Conestoga take on fifth-ranked Downingtown East and eighth-ranked Kennett. Final score: Conestoga – 165; Downingtown East – 95; Kennett – 95.
Conestoga’s score was not only enough to earn a spot in the finals, but also ended up being the highest team score for the afternoon.
“For me, academic competition is all about the thrill of having to be not only the first one to buzz in, but also the first one with the right answer,” said Conestoga team captain Michael Bennett, who has been a member of the team for all four years of his high school career. “I want to see how far our team can get – I think we’re pretty good and I’m really excited that we’ve been able to make it to the finals this year.”
The third and final match would complete the afternoon’s trend of a top-seeded team advancing to the finals. Third-ranked Unionville defeated fourth-ranked West Chester Henderson and seventh-ranked Coatesville. Final score of regulation play: Unionville – 120; West Chester Henderson – 120; Coatesville – 95. Unionville defeated West Chester Henderson in the tiebreaker following regulation play.
Unionville High School senior and team captain Steven Silverman described the final moments of the match as nerve-wracking, but also part of what makes the Chester County Academic Competition so great.
“I really love the camaraderie of being on the team and going to team practices, but also the fun of the competition atmosphere. There are a lot of great teams in Chester County and it’s nice to be able to go up against some really bright students,” said Silverman, who added that the team would continue practicing just as hard as they have been through the year to prepare for March 14.
The winner of the March showdown between West Chester East, Conestoga, and Unionville will yield one champion who will represent Chester County in the Pennsylvania Academic Competition that will take place in Harrisburg on May 3. West Chester Henderson will also compete as the state’s back-to-back reigning champion.
The championship matches can be seen live on CCIU’s Internet television network on March 14 beginning at 7:00 p.m. by visiting http://ccitv.cciu.org.
In case of inclement weather, the semifinals will be held on March 18 at the same time and location.
To view all teams scores for the season or to view historical information on the competition, visit www.cciu.org/AcademicComp.