• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS academic team earns highest national ranking

WCHS ACADEMIC TEAM members are, from left, front, Savannah Karbach, Sarah Karbach, Claire Pinkston, Colin McGowan, Kathryn Whitaker, Emily Brookfield and Sarah Potts; second row, Alfie Painter, Trevor Wells, JC Dyer, Olivia Raybourne, James Batts, Keaton Martin, Shaun Lavin and Sam Eagen; third row, Jarom Bradshaw, Connor Akers, Derek Forte, Kyle Silbereisen, Joshua Zeefe, Nathan Jackson, Aidan Bottom and Wesley Forte; and back, Cayce Jones, Sam Hite, Logan Craig, Joe Kowalke and Caleb May. Not pictured are Seth Allen, Logan Curtis and Avery Schanbacher. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Woodford County High School’s academic team reached its highest national ranking in program history this season. Being ranked as high as 40th in the country and remaining in the top-50 nationally are huge accomplishments for a school in Central Kentucky competing in National Academic Quiz Tournaments.

One of the highlights so far this season has been a first-place finish at a tournament involving some of the best academic teams in Tennessee. WCHS defeated Henderson County, Ky. – probably its biggest rival – in the finals.

In addition to its success in Tennessee, this season has been bolstered by strong performances up-and-down the WCHS roster. So when a starter can’t make the trip to a tournament, a teammate steps up to fill the void.

“We have a strong culture of people buying-in, people having personal investment in improving themselves,” said WCHS Coach April York. “And also, I think we’re doing a really good job of working as a team ... Thinking about the whole picture and not just ourselves as individuals.” WCHS junior Connor Akers was willing to fill the void left by Ryan Mink, a senior on last year’s varsity quick-recall team, because he knew his team needed him to step up.

“Connor has really brought a lot to the team,” said York.

In addition to making sure he was able to provide a boost in math and science, which were both areas of strength for Ryan, Connor has brought some intangibles to this year’s quick-recall team.

“Connor’s secret sauce is his cheerfulness,” said team captain Wesley Forte. “He’s great for morale and that really helps us.”

WCHS hosted a Trivia Night fundraiser recently, and an array of teams in the community showed their support for the high school’s academic team program with their participation. Coupled with the support of parents, students on the WCHS academic team are gaining valuable experience beyond Kentucky’s borders.

“The out-of-state tournaments,” said Wesley, “we look forward to them because they’re a lot of fun and they’re the most competitive.” He and his teammates were preparing for another highly-competitive tournament in Alabama (with 60 teams from across the country) last week when they reflected on their season so far.

“We’ve only gotten better since I’ve been a freshman,” said Wesley, now a WCHS senior.

He and his teammates have already qualified for NAQT Nationals. They’ll also compete in Kentucky Governor’s Cup – hoping to win an 11th straight District 41 championship.

Earlier this season, Woodford County High School’s junior varsity academic team won the JV Challenge.

The Brain Jackets scored 66 points to defeat Western Hills for the championship and also took home a quick-recall title.

“I saw a lot of strength in the quick-recall team,” said York, “and we’re seeing a lot of depth in the ninth- and tenth-graders – that maybe we don’t have at the upperclassmen level … So that really bodes well for the long term…”

In written assessment at the JV Challenge, Trevor Wells, Alfie Painter and Logan Craig swept first, second and third for WCHS in social studies; Claire Pinkston finished first and Cayce Jones was fourth in language arts; Keaton Martin finished first and Cayce Jones was fifth in arts and humanities; Logan Craig was second and Claire Pinkston was fifth in composition; Derek Forte finished fourth in math; and Caleb May was fourth in science.

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