GHS Academic Challenge finishes season in ninth place overall

GHS fourth among small schools; Mazur, Savage named All-State

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Sara Jones, Avery Howe, Ashlyn Ewen, Emily Bottom, Bailee Foster and Bailey Hill stand at the back while Eden Hanson, McKenzie Mazur and Stephanie Jones kneel in front for a photo at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. The GHS Academic Challenge team placed seventh overall and fourth among small schools at state last weekend. Photo Courtesy of Lynn Forcella

When it comes to tournaments, sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.

The Greybull High School academic challenge team learned that this weekend, after finishing ninth overall and fourth among small schools at the Academic Challenge state competition at Central Wyoming College in Riverton.

Their ninth-place finish comes as a departure for the team after a remarkably strong season; they’d won trophies, earned individual recognition with all-star points and emerged as one of the dominant forces in the region.

In an email to the Standard, Adviser Lynn Forcella wrote that the team’s finish “wasn’t where we planned to end up.” According to her, the all-girl team of six — Emily Bottom, McKenzie Mazur, Avery Howe, Ashlyn Ewen, Stephanie Jones and Eden Hanson — struggled against teams they had previously beaten.

“We struggled a bit in our first round, answering only four questions,” Forcella wrote. “[It] set us back and we had a good deal of ground to make up in the next three rounds.”

By the end of pool play on Saturday, the team had earned 345 points – finishing ahead of Pine Bluffs and Big Piney but behind eight others.

During the championship match, Campbell County was blown out 130– 260 by pool leader and eventual champion Cheyenne East. For the third and fourth place match, Douglas set a state playoff record with 280 points, repeating their 2016 domination of Sheridan, 280-130. Riverside came out on top against Lovell with a healthy 170–130 victory.

“It is always the luck of the draw if the questions are going to play to the strengths of our team-members and this time, unfortunately, it wasn’t our day,” Forcella wrote.

Despite their fizzle, she remains proud of the team’s performance throughout the season.

“They were a fine group of girls who represented our team and community well in both deed and action, it was a pleasure to work and travel with them this year,” she wrote.

With the season over, Forcella and the rest of the squad prepare to say goodbye to seniors Bottom and Anna Savage.

Forcella praised Bottom for what she describes as a stalwart commitment to the program; according to Forcella, Bottom has committed four years of her High School career to the competition. Savage was recognized for her consistently strong performance throughout the season with an all-state nomination from the Academic Challenge coaches; Savage is joined in the all-state honors by Mazur, a sophomore.

While Bottom’s and Savage’s departure will be a loss to the team, Forcella remains confident about next season’s cohort.

“Of the nine players I hope will return next year, seven are just sophomores which really bodes well for our future,” she wrote.