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February 14. 2013 8:10PM

Granite State Challenge back on NHPTV


The Hanover High School Marauders, at right, from left -- Captain Graham Reid, Matt Jin, Niels Kuehlert and Siddhartha Jayanti, with alternate Hannah Sobel off camera won the first-round game of the Granite State Challenge on New Hampshire Public television Sunday night against Coe-Brown Northwood, at left, from left -- Captain Emily Davis, Henry Snow, Sam Fortier and Erik Gunderson. (Courtesy)

DURHAM - The Hanover High School Quiz Bowl team the Marauders bested Coe-Brown Northwood Academy in the premiere of the 29th season of New Hampshire Public Television's Granite State Challenge that aired Sunday night.

The Marauders' veteran Quiz Bowl coach Bill Murphy, who is also director of the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League, said the win was exciting but it is more thrilling that the televised competition is back after a year hiatus due to lack of funding.

"The highlights are the Granite State Challenge is back on the air," Murphy said. "The Granite State Challenge is sort of the highlight of Quiz Bowling activities. The kids get excited about it and people love seeing it on TV, so it's wonderful to be one of two teams to kick it off on TV."

The Hanover Marauders - Captain Graham Reid, Matt Jin, Niels Kuehlert, Siddhartha Jayanti and alternate Hannah Sobel - won the first-round game by a score of 305 to 160. Coe-Brown Northwood was represented by Captain Emily Davis, Henry Snow, Sam Fortier, Erik Gunderson, alternates Kyle Stevens and Dan Rivera, and were coached by Lorraine Drake.

The scores were close, with Hanover in a slight lead in the beginning of the game, but the Marauders jumped further ahead thanks to the bonus questions.

The win means the Marauders will advance in the competition, which starts with 16 New Hampshire high school teams and leads up to the Granite State vs. Bay State Governors' Cups grand finale match.

The competitions are running Sundays at 6:30 p.m. This week the challenge is between Kingswood Regional High School and Winnacunnet High School.

Murphy credits lead show sponsor Unitil Corporation, a New England natural gas and electricity company, for the return of the competition show.

There are many changes to the competition this year that make it more exciting, he said. First, the grand prize in the past had been $1,000 to the winning school. This year each member of the team personally is awarded $1,000, Murphy said. "It goes from the school getting the prize to the students getting the prize."

He and his team didn't know the new prize award until they had already started competing, he said. "You kind of look at each other and say 'oh.' That kind of upped the stress there," Murphy said.

Secondly, only 16 teams are allowed to compete in the Granite State Challenge and there are 32 Quiz Bowl teams. In the past teams were rotated, but this year a written test was used to pick the teams that would compete on TV, so right off the bat the competition is fiercer, he said.

"I like the idea that everybody has a shot to be on it each year," Murphy said.

The game emphasizes the quick recall of facts in the major disciplines - math, science, social studies, language and fine arts. But questions about current events, entertainment, sports and regional topics are also asked.

While most students who participate are on the honor roll, Murphy said his years of experience have taught him that students with a passion for the game often excel even when they don't stand out academically.

Are they good under pressure, fast on the buzzer and do they love to watch Jeopardy and the Granite State Challenge? "If you get somebody that gets excited about these things, it's amazing what can be done," he said. "One of my best social studies kids on the Quiz Bowl team got a C from me in the class. He just didn't want to do the work in the class, but ask him a question about history."


mpierce@newstote.com


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