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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


Brainiac Breakthrough: Academic Team Named Runner-Up at Regionals

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Academic Team competed in regionals at Dominion High School. After a long season of competing in preliminary tournaments and practicing, the work paid off when they earned the runner-up title for the first time in Rock Ridge history.
Shivu Sathe
Seniors Tanishka Enugu, Emily Dabre, Krish Kanwar, and Veer Sidhu listen attentively for the next question to win their team points.

With buzzers and brains ready, the academic team listens carefully for the incoming questions during their regional match-ups against the John Champe Knights, Heritage Pride, and Broad Run Spartans. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Rock Ridge Academic Team competed in three rounds against the Knights, Pride, and Spartans. Members met once a week before school and during cardinal activity blocks to prepare for their tournament. During these sessions, coach Sean Heron helped the team set up buzzers and go through practice questions. “Our practices usually fell into two parts,” Heron said. “We would identify a chunk of information and review [and say], ‘Hey, I’m gonna memorize this, I’m gonna memorize that.’ Then we would do some practice questions.” Once the topics that required more practice were identified, the group ran through slides and packets to memorize keywords and concepts that would help them get the answers as quickly as possible, which is essential for the buzzer rounds. 

Senior Veer Sidhu has been a part of the team since his sophomore year. “Sometimes I do Protobowl, [an online practice tool], but mostly I just go in and compete without doing anything too special beforehand,” Sidhu said. 

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Everyone on the team will be asked to focus on certain topics. Sidhu’s topic was science, math, and ancient and classical history. Junior Maanu Karthikeyan’s focus was on composers. “[We] pretty much focus on the weaker topics and answer as many questions as we can,” Karthikeyan said. 

During each segment of the round, four members of each team sit together at their respective tables to compete. There are three parts to every round. First comes the 15-question toss-up round. Here, anyone from any team can buzz in, volunteering themselves to answer, at any time. This part is a game of thinking on your feet and being the quickest to buzz in with the correct answer. Next is the directids round where each team gets a question, and the four members on the hot seat during that segment work together to brainstorm the correct answer. So what happens if the assigned team gets the question wrong? Just like in “Jeopardy!,” the other team gets the chance to steal, if both teams get the question wrong, no one earns the points. Each team gets 10 questions, making it 20 total in that section. The round finishes with another 15-question toss-up as a last opportunity to close out strong for the team. 

“We put in the effort and we’re finally able to achieve something great after so long, so it felt really gratifying and like all the effort we put in was worth it.”

— Senior Veer Sidhu

After three years of being on the team with some of his best friends, Sidhu has seen a lot. “My favorite memory [on the team] was just the feeling of getting runner-up at regionals,” Sidhu said. “We put in the effort and we’re finally able to achieve something great after so long, so it felt really gratifying and like all the effort we put in was worth it.” 

After going to regionals for the first time this year, the team finished out strong being named the runner-up for the first time in Phoenix history. After losing to the Knights, the Phoenix regained momentum winning their matches against the Pride and Spartans. “At the start of the year I don’t think any of our expectations were this high, so winning wasn’t expected,” Karthikeyan said. “The team was really motivated and ended up improving a lot which definitely showed at the end.”

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About the Contributors
Shivu Sathe
Shivu Sathe, News Editor
Shivu Sathe is a valued member of staff, always fast and efficient when it comes to editing articles in her role as News Editor. She’s always liked writing, so it was no surprise that she found a home in newspaper and journalism. Although she’s already beginning to prepare for her life as a college student, she enjoys staying active and up to date in terms of what’s going on around Rock Ridge as part of The Blaze.
Alexis Cortés
Alexis Cortés, Design Editor
Alexis Cortés Negrón is a staff writer and the design editor for "The Blaze," and is involved with other extracurriculars such as the Art & Literary Magazine. This year he looks forward to improving his craft of writing and editing, specifically in graphic design. He joined the school newspaper in order to work more on expanding his “genre horizon,” and looks forward to exploring other topics and stories such as in news and entertainment. Some other hobbies include writing novels, short stories, and poems as well as playing the violin, water coloring, and cooking.

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