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St. Maria Goretti takes academic tournament for second time

April 03, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Look out Regis, the St. Maria Goretti High School Academic Team may be ready to conquer "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Erica Nooney, a senior at the Hagerstown Catholic school, showed off the champion's trophy Monday from this weekend's county-wide tournament. Six of her teammates celebrated the victory as well.

"This is the second time we participated. This is the second time we won," said Kathe Whipp, one of the team's coaches.

The Goretti team survived two rounds on Saturday to win the prize, beating out teams from Smithsburg and South Hagerstown high schools.

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The competition, modeled after the quiz show "It's Academic," pits three, three-member teams against each other in a battle of speed and wits.

The team prepared all year, studying textbooks, fielding questions, and - perhaps most importantly - practicing buzzing in.

"They gave up their lunch time, and we asked them questions," Whipp said.

Senior Nick Kline, 18, said there is no real formula for studying.

"It's an open forum. Anything can be asked," he said.

Added coach Kathryn Lander: "We try to find difficult questions to ask them."

Junior Steve Kamas said the practice paid off on Saturday.

"I think they were easier than the questions we prepared for," he said.

Kamas and senior Mark McGinley alternated during the competition. Nooney and senior Dominic Britti played both rounds.

"By the end of it, there were questions I let slip just because I had been up there for an hour and a half," Nooney said. "My brain was nowhere by then."

Kline, senior Jess Rave and junior Joe Barrett attended the competition at Hagerstown Community College but did not participate.

The students said the competition was stressful - intensified by a format that did not allow competitors to see their score or the marks of their opponents.

In fact, they never even found out the final score.

"It was closer than last year," Whipp said.

In addition to the daily drills, the Goretti team had one other piece of preparation, a computer competition via computer last fall. The students competed against about 2,200 schools from all over the world in the event, called the Knowledge Master Open.

The team will compete in the event again this month.

As for "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" the students said they think they could meet host Regis Philbin's challenge.

"Cake," Kline said.

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