Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 3, 2014

Verity quick recall team second in national event

ASHLAND — Dan Boyer, the coach of the Verity Middle School’s quick recall team, says the bar has been set high for a group of achieving eighth-graders.

The team turned in a runner-up finish in the prestigious Junior National Academic Championship in Washington, D.C., about a month ago.

“They did very well,” Boyer said. “Unfortunately (for Verity) they’re all eighth-graders. It will be quite the task (to replae them). They were all dedicated an hard-working.”

Verity was invited based upon success in academic competition over the course of the year, which included success in the Governor’s Cup competitions (second in the KAAC Regional tournament and making the Elite Eight at the KAAC State Tournament).

The National Academic Association, based in Sandy, Utah, invited 63 teams from across the United States to three separate sites — New Orleans, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

It was an honor to be invited but the Verity team very nearly won the tournament.

“It’s as well as we’ve done in a competition in recent history, at least the 20 years I’ve been doing this,” Boyer said. “It’s hard to get sixth-graders to compete with our current structure they these kids have been together since sixth grade. I imagine they’re going to keep it up. They’ll play JV for the high school next year and by the time they’re seniors, they should be challenging for a state championship.”

Boyer doesn’t mind putting those lofty expectations on the youngsters simply because he knows their work ethic and diversity.

The team consisted of eighth-graders Dawson Cooverf, Wren Jenkins (captain), Nate Rickman, and Zach Stafford. Freshman Hannah DePriest also made the trip with the team.

In the six-game preliminary matvhes, Verity went 5-1, missing a perfect record by a two-question defeated in round six. However, the five victories earned Versity a No. 2 seed in an eight-team, single-elimination playoff on the last day.

Verity defeated Lakeland, Pa., 480-210, setting up a match with local in-state rival Johnson County. The match was dead even at the end of the third quarter and was decided by Verity correctly answering the last two questions for a 370-330 victory.

“That was a big one,” Boyer said. “We’d played them a couple of times during the course of the season and they’d win one and then we’d win one.”

Johnson County Middle School was the Governor’s Cup champion in Quick Recall, Boyer said.

That victory over Johnson County propelled Verity into the championship match against Warren, N.J., a team they had beaten in sudden-death overtime in the preliminary round. However, this time Verity fell behind early and could never catch up.

“We got into such a hole,” Boyer said. “But to the kids’ credit, they never gave up. They kept fighting and made it close. It was disappointing to our kids because they  had beaten them the day before.”

Verity’s outstanding eighth-graders each had their own academic super power — Coovert (reading), Stafford (math), Rickman (science) and Jenkins (arts and humantities). That, Boyer said, made a difference.

“A big key to their success is all of them are readers,” he said. “They all read everything that you put in front of them.”

The format for the Quick Recall was identical to the High-Q television program, he said. In fact, Boyer said Ernie Anderson was one of the moderators.

The group also did some sightseeing around Washington, D.C., before returning home with the runner-up trophy.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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