Alma Bryant has had its share of close calls recently in the HiQ academic competition. The Hurricanes lost to Davidson in the championship match by 1 point three years ago, and by 5 points in 2017. Last year, they missed the finals after falling by 2 points in the semis.
Bryant language arts teacher James Kimbrough, who sponsors the team along with math teacher Kent Patrick, said those close calls were fuel for this season.
Alma Bryant won a tightly contested final match for the 2019 HiQ championship, scoring 43 points to Baker’s 38 and McGill-Toolen’s 31. It was Alma Bryant’s third HiQ championship and its first since 2011.
“I can say that this year’s team was the hardest working group of students I have had the honor of coaching,” said Kimbrough, who has been a sponsor of the team since 2012. “They are all very intelligent, but all of our teams have been. This group’s work ethic sets them apart.”
Bryant’s team this year consisted of five seniors and two underclassmen. The seniors are Victoria Serra, Skye Sutton, Jonathan Belle Isle, Michael Crawford and Larry Harbison. Suttree de Lorge is a junior and Braden Vick is a freshman.
Vick played a key role in the final match, Kimbrough said, pinch hitting for one of the seniors, who had to miss the final for an honor band event. Vick answered a question on American government that put the Hurricanes ahead for good, and the team finished off the victory with a correct answer on a math question.
Unlike some other academic competitions, HiQ has a set curriculum, which students have an opportunity to study before the matches. That makes it as much a test of students’ study habits as their overall general knowledge.
Alma Bryant will receive a prize of $2,000 for winning the competition, sponsored by New Horizons Credit Union and MCPSS, and each team member will receive a scientific calculator. Second-place finisher Baker will receive $1,500 and third-place McGill-Toolen gets $1,000.
Alma Bryant will now compete in a national HiQ competition against teams from other states on Friday at 11 a.m. The teams will compete via video conference, with the Hurricanes based in the board room on the MCPSS Central Campus.
UPDATE: The Hurricanes finished second out of four teams in the national HiQ championship. The Hurricanes posted 45 points to 59 for Garnet Valley HS (Pa.), 28 for Stanwood HS (Wash.), and 22 for Marinette HS (Wisc).
“These kids put a ton of effort into preparing,” Patrick said after the national match. “They’re tremendous kids, they’re dedicated — they’re winners. It was a tremendous honor to be here.”