By Jim Misunas
ROZEL — The Pawnee Heights High School Scholars Bowl team earned a fifth-place finish in the Class 1A Division II State Scholars Bowl at Natoma High School.
Pawnee Heights won a tiebreaker to reach the bracket round after a 2-3 record in pool play. In pool play, Pawnee Heights defeated Western Plains 60-20 and Weskan 30-20. The Tigers lost 30-25 to Baileyville, 40-20 to Hutchinson Central Christian and 60-30 to Northern Valley.
The Tigers had four matches decided by one answer.
Pawnee Heights lost 30-20 to Rolla, the eventual Division II state champion in the bracket round. If Pawnee Heights beat Rolla, there would’ve been a four-way tie for first place. In bracket play, Pawnee Heights beat Baileyville 30-20 and lost 40-30 to Axtell, 30-10 to Wallace County and 40-10 to Central Christian.
“It was tough competition. It’s amazing to think how close all of the teams were to winning the whole thing,” said Britt Ewy, Pawnee Heights Scholars Bowl coach. “Any of the matches could’ve gone the other way. They were all competitive. I thought the team performed their best. Regionals and state competition was the best focused tournaments they competed in all season.”
Sixteen questions are asked in each match. The scores were low because the questions asked at state were extremely difficult.
“It was the toughest set of questions we’ve seen all season,” said coach Ewy. “Everyone struggled and dealt with the same issue. You could tell they were extremely difficult when the coaches would glance at each other when a question was read.”
Pawnee Heights had 23 students in high school when the official attendance count was made Sept. 20, 2011. Pawnee Heights is the second-smallest high school in Kansas.
Pawnee Heights celebrated its winter homecoming Friday evening and left early Saturday morning for Natoma.
Pawnee Heights Scholars Bowl state qualifiers were Scarlett Olson, Casey Spence, Aaron Clapham, Rayna Karst, Jayton Salmans and Jake Hardiman. Olson is the team’s lone senior.
All of the Pawnee Heights team members were introduced during the opening ceremony. Ewy said the team’s success made all the hard preparation work worthwhile.
“It was a good experience for the students. The students had a good attitude and put a lot of work into it,” he said. “They have learned they do anything they put their minds to if they put the effort into it. It doesn’t matter how many students your school has.”