Greencastle English, Math teams earn state titles; sixth straight for English

Sunday, May 6, 2018

WEST LAFAYETTE -- A six-pack. A double three-peat. One for the other thumb ...

Sports teams have come up with some creative ways over the years to quantify winning six championships.

But the six-championship streak for the Greencastle High School English Team has left even coach Nicole Burkhalter at a loss for words.

"I'm not sure about team winning streaks," she said after the English Team captured its sixth straight Class 3 championship in the Senior Division competition of the 2018 Indiana Academic Super Bowl at Purdue University that also saw the GHS Math Team taking home a state title.

"Someone at IASP (Indiana Association of School Principals) might know (about whether six straight is a record for the competition)," Burkhalter added. "All I know is I plan to keep going and following the formula that has worked for us for as long as I am able."

Greencastle High School English Team members are (from left) Ben Gellman, Bailey Williams, Simon Foss and coach Nicole Burkhalter. The GHS English Team not only won the state title on Saturday but captured its sixth straight championship in Class 3 competition. Courtesy photo

That winning formula has included major studying efforts and practices for English Team members Ben Gellman, Bailey Williams and Simon Foss. Each melded his or her strengths and talents into a team effort that wouldn't quit even after GHS missed four out of five questions in the middle of Saturday's English competition and had to come from behind for title No. 6 by answering the final 13 questions correctly.

Overall Greencastle answered 21 of 25 questions correctly, posting the best English score of any team in any class.

"I reiterate all my quotes about team captain Ben Gellman from after the area competition," Burkhalter said, having praised Gellman's first official efforts as captain and his camaraderie with fellow senior Foss and newcomer Williams.

"Kelly Hansen (2017 graduate) left huge captain shoes to fill and he (Gellman) did an incredible job," Burkhalter continued."No one in the history of Greencastle's English Team has ever prepared more -- and that's saying a lot. I have a picture of Ben taking English Team notes in his tux five minutes before prom pictures last year. He is a phenomenal kid with an unparalleled work ethic.

"The future also looks bright with freshman Bailey Williams," Burkhalter added, perhaps already thinking about winning title No. 7 next year. "She was our vocab/allusion flashcard master. The question writer wasn't going to stump her with a tricky vocab question."

Then there was Foss, who led the way individually for GHS as a member of both state championship-winning teams and the third-place Interdisciplinary squad.

"This year's novel was 'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway," Burkhalter noted of the World War I-themed competition. "The novel is set in Italy and sprinkled with Italian. Simon Foss is fluent in Italian, so that was unbelievably helpful."

Greencastle High School Math Team members are (from left) Michael White, Kristi Huang, Simon Foss, Sean Ramey and Ben Wilkerson. Courtesy photo

The GHS Math Team, which finished as Class 3 runner-up in the 2017 competition, won the title Saturday with Sean Ramey, Michael White, Kristi Huang, Simon Foss and Ben Wilkerson competing for the Gayle Hansen-coached squad.

"I am very proud of my math team this year," Hansen praised. "This team was runner-up last year at state and really wanted to win it this year.

"They had to work very hard for this, which included meeting weekly since the beginning of January," she continued. "In between practices they studied the material and worked problems."

The GHS Math Team competitors not only had to think outside the box but beyond the textbook and classroom.

"Some of the topics in the math round," Hansen noted, "are topics not in the high school math curriculum."

Meanwhile, the GHS Interdisciplinary Team claimed third place. Competing in the Interdisciplinary finals for GHS were Susanna Howard, Sean Ramey, Ben Gellman and Simon Foss.

Science, which did not place in the top three, was the fourth Greencastle squad that qualified for the state finals in Class 3. The Science Team, coached by Brad Kingma, has been made up of Connor Crary, Jack Howard, Sean Ramey, Ben Wilkerson and Bailey Williams.

Besides Foss leading the way individually as a member of two title-winning teams and a third-place squad, Gellman and Ramey each earned a first- and third-place medal.

The GHS English Team's score of 21 with tiebreakers of 5, 3 and 13, which was better than any other team in any class. English correctly answered the last 13 questions to come from behind after 12 questions.

Meanwhile, the Math Team scored 20 with tiebreakers of 5, 3 and 6. The 5 means it got the all of the last five questions correct. The 3 means it got the last three questions correct. The 6 means that the most questions GHS answered right consecutively was six.

So Greencastle won the math competition in the tie-breaker by answering more of the last five questions right than the runner-up Scecina Memorial, which answered three out of last five correctly.

Saturday's results marked the 27th and 28th titles Greencastle has earned overall in the Hoosier Academic Super Bowl event since its Science Team brought home the school's initial championship hardware in 1990. Four times previously GHS has won multiple titles and posted two straight years of capturing three of the six Class 3 state titles in 2015 and 2016.

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