The 2007 Hudson County Academic Bowl got down to the final two teams Wednesday afternoon at Weehawken High School, and both teams, impressively, were from High Tech.
One had just defeated Memorial High School in West New York to get into the finals, and the other had defeated Secaucus.
For the first time in the 18-year history of the Academic Bowl competition, the two finalists come from the same school.
"I do predict High Tech will win," said High Tech health/physical education teacher Dorothy Gilmartin, one of the coaches for the High Tech Academic Bowl. "I think it's safe to say that you can engrave High Tech on the trophy."
The two teams of High Tech's academic geniuses will face off Wednesday, March 28, to determine the overall county champion. But High Tech will be the winner, one way or the other.
"It's very unique to get 18 teams in a competition and have two teams from the same school reach the finals," said Gilmartin, who has been coaching the High Tech Academic Bowl team for the last six years, having finished second twice. "Our teams did very well this year and showed good sportsmanship. It's a great tournament to be involved with and it's great for the kids."
It's like Jeopardy!
The Academic Bowl is a question-and-answer based competition, furnished by Questions Unlimited of Columbus, Ohio, which has provided the questions for the Hudson County Academic Bowl since its inception.
It's sort of like watching "Jeopardy!" and answering along, only in a team format. Each match features a series of 48 questions - eight questions in each of six different categories.
The easier questions are worth 10 points each, with the toughest questions worth 40 points.
When it is their turn, each four-member team is allowed to select one of the six categories. The categories usually include subjects taught in high school, like history, geography, literature, science and math, but may also include totally different categories as well.
One group of questions dealt with baseball. Not many of the students were baseball fans.
But it was all in fun and in the love of trivia.
"This was my first time to be involved and I thought it was going to be fascinating," said Brendan McKeon, one of High Tech's team captains. "I always watch 'Jeopardy!' and I always have fun doing trivia, so this is perfect for me. However, some of the questions were tougher than I expected. I guess the math questions were necessary. Science was tough as well."
High Tech's other captain, Ethan Elenberg, knew that his team would fare well.
"I sort of expected our team to do very well," Elenberg said. "I knew that a lot of the questions are pretty random, but if you use common sense, you have a good shot. And the four people combining to come up with one answer helps. We usually come up with the best answer between us. I like that we have four people working together. It's been a lot of fun."
Gilmartin said that the two teams practiced against each other to get ready for the tournament. She never thought that they would end up as the tournament's finalists.
"They all got together after school and did the questions together," Gilmartin said. "A lot of them practiced by taking the 'Jeopardy!' test online."
So who's going to win the showdown?
"I'm the captain of Team A and Brendan is the captain for Team B," Elenberg said. "I like to think we're Team A because we're better."
But a prediction?
"I'll say someone from High Tech will win," Elenberg said. "I'd like to think we're going to win, but I'm not predicting anything."
"It's going to be fun, regardless who wins," McKeon said. "We have a friendly competition with them, but we really want to win."
The other members of the High Tech A team are Tim Rounds, Cassie Tarakajian and Amir Kader, with substitutes Akash Shah and Chris Bado. The B team consists of McKeon, Darshan Patel, Jonathon Bourdet, Daniel Barringer and subs Madaser Saleem and Alex Mozieka. Guidance counselor Vincenza Morella is the other coach.
"The kids are very enthusiastic," Gilmartin said. "They take it seriously, much like athletes do. It's great for the kids that they got this far. At least, we know we'll be a champion this year."