When a sleepy quiz bowl team left Rappahannock County High School at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday (Feb. 28), the players didn’t really believe they could come back that evening with it all. After finishing a disappointing fourth at last year’s state tournament, the at least knew they had a shot — but the team ended up as 2015 Virginia High School League Scholastic Bowl 1-A Champions!
Defeating all three opponents in a round-robin tournament at the College of William and Mary, the Panthers brought a trophy and medals home from Williamsburg. Under coach David Naser, it was the fifth time Rapp made it to the state’s final four, and the second state title (the previous title coming in 2009 with captain A. J. Collins, who attended Alabama and now attends UVA Law School).
For the Rappahannock supporters, this would be an eventful day. In the first round, Rapp played Galax, reputedly a beatable team, and took a narrow early lead, 75-35. With seniors James MacLeod and Henry Mason leading the way, Rapp prevailed, 205-125. The next opponent would be the “other” Rappahannock (RHS of Richmond County), captained by Nick Jett, an aggressive, fast-on-the-buzzer player.
Jett won the first toss-up and then capitalized when MacLeod buzzed in too soon and was penalized. After five questions, the opponents led 40-0. MacLeod described the turning-point moment that followed: “I was honestly expecting a loss to our longtime rival . . . but of course, Jon Streu saved the day for us to bring us back for a small deficit of 25 points.” With Mason and he becoming dazed and cautious, senior Streu, silent on the buzzer in the Galax match, got the next question and two after that to turn MacLeod back on with a round-one final score of Richmond 65, Rapp 40. In the directed round, Rapp narrowed Richmond’s lead to 15. In round 3, the team finally came together, with MacLeod contributing 45, Streu 10, and finally Mason for 25 points, effectively holding Jett in check, allowing him only 10 points on the last eight questions.
When Rapp was declared the winner by score of 160-140, it finally dawned on the players that they could do no worse than runner-ups. The winners of the final match to be played after lunch would be the state champions.
“The players had some fear of Radford, after the seniors had lost to them last year,” said coach Naser. “Also the fact that since 1998 Radford has had six state runner-up trophies, and one title trophy, with all of their losses but one to George Mason,” he added. Since the realignment of the VHSL, the Panthers do not face them in postseason play. (George Mason would be runner-up to Maggie Walker Governor’s School this day.) “I told them not to worry as Radford proudly unfurled their team banner and placed it in front of their table.”
The Panthers’ fears appeared unfounded as Mason started the party and then MacLeod got the next four in a row, before finally allowing Radford on the board. Rapp lead 80-30 at the end of the first round. The hardest match of the day became the easiest, as Rapp padded the lead with 80 in round two to Radford’s 40, a 90-point lead, making victory certain if they played smart.
In the final round, Mason scored, then MacLeod, and then Mason three more times to mathematically lock it up. “At the start of the final round, we were up 90 points versus Radford, which is not a runaway, considering our opponent,” Mason said. “We kept our composure, because the last thing we wanted was for them to come back.”
He noted that those first four questions played to his and MacLeod’s strengths: poetry, the NBA, and opera for him, and a war question for MacLeod. Rapp soundly defeated the Radford team with their knowledge of social studies, literature, and science by a final score of 230-110, with James fittingly finishing by answering a “Civil War question.”
“The players shook hands graciously, but the true impact of the win didn’t sink in until the trophy presentation,“ said Naser.
While the “season” is over, the Panthers have a few more events coming up, including a taping of “It’s Academic!” and a national tournament in June, to give the seniors another chance before perhaps playing college quiz bowl. Naser is also looking at invitationals as a way to help next year’s players to develop.
With five seniors graduating, and no juniors, a young team will have to step up to fill some big shoes. Beside MacLeod, Mason, and Streu, the Panthers will also lose Jane Purnell and Nick Riedel. In Saturday’s tournament, Jacob Sheffield, Jon Riedel and Gabe Hernandez alternated as “the fourth man,” but all went scoreless.
“The competition at the state level can daze you into silence,” said Naser. “This will be a young team going forward, but they know what they have to do to return to states next year.”
Winter sports have finally reached their conclusions but winter weather — not content with the havoc wreaked on schedules thus far — continues to affect winter postseason and spring start-up practices. But Rapp athletes continue to make the best of it.
Scholastic Bowl takes the headlines with a state championship! (Details above.) Huge congratulations to the Scholastic Bowl team and their coaches, Dave Naser and Brad Weeks, for a tremendous season and a fantastic finale.
Varsity basketball saw their season come to a close last week, as the varsity girls advanced to the second round of the Rapp River Conference Playoffs but then fell short against defending champ (and last year’s state qualifier) Colonial Beach. Our girls were game, but just could not break the withering press and defense of the Drifters, who advanced to the championship game later in the week. (Our varsity boys team’s season ended last week in the first round of the RRC tourney, as reported in last week’s article.)
Despite the loss, coach Brandon Burley was adamant in his instruction to the girls to “hold your heads high” as they had much to celebrate from the season just ended and much, much more to look forward to in the seasons to come. Both Burley and boys coach Mike Atkins were pleased with the progress of their teams this past season and are already working on plans to help our Rapp basketballers reach the next level in the seasons ahead.
Spring sports got started, sort of, last week as our varsity and JV teams began practices Tuesday. Weather condition and inches-thick snowpack on fields have forced all practices to be indoors thus far, but coaches and players are making the most of the facilities we have to begin preparation for taking the fields and the pitch once the weather finally breaks.
Junion Panther sports (baseball, softball, girls’ soccer and track) have been postponed one more week, with tryouts now scheduled to begin the week of March 9. With all practices indoors for now, priority has to be given to the JV and varsity teams, all of which are scheduled to begin play next week, weather permitting. Currently all of our varsity sports except track have events scheduled for the week of March 9, with the weather (and field conditions) of course being the caveat.
The Winter Sports Awards and the Spring Sports Parent/Athlete Meeting have also been victims of the weather, with several postponements thus far for both events. As of this writing, the Winter Sports Awards Celebration is scheduled is 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday, March 5) in the high school auditorium. The Spring Sports meeting has been postponed indefinitely (it was scheduled for tonight) and is expected to be held the week of March 9 or March 16.
Fans, parents and athletes are urged to monitor rappahannockathletics.org for the latest schedule information and sports news.
Rappahannock County Public Schools, in conjunction with the Headwaters Foundation, is pleased to announce the completion of the Rainwater Harvesting Cistern Project at Rappahannock County High School.
As part of an ongoing effort to increase conservation measures in our schools, the completed project will recycle rainwater for use in the RCHS Greenhouse and will improve drainage from existing gutter downspouts. The project is an excellent example of water conservation and can be used to teach students one of the practical ways to apply conservation practices.
Facilities director Jimmy Swindler and Farm to Table Coordinator Sarah Moore worked with local contractors for the past 18 months to complete this project. Initial funding was obtained from a grant secured by RCPS grant writer Shannon Grimsley and Jenn Rattigan, previously employed by Headwaters to lead the Farm-to-Table program.
Thanks also go to RCHS instructor Rich Hogan and his talented students who gave valuable assistance during the final phase of the project. With the completion of this project, RCHS students will now be able to nurture their greenhouse products with untreated, chlorine-free water while at the same time reducing overall water usage at the school.
Carly Cairns of Sperryville has been named to the Provost’s Honor Roll for the fall 2014 semester at Glenville State College in Glenville, W.Va.. To be named to the Honor Roll, students must have grade point averages between 3.5 and 3.9 and be enrolled in a minimum of 12 semester hours.
The Owls traveled to Fredericksburg to Saint Michael the Archangel High School for the Delaney Athletic Conference swim championships on Feb. 7. Lucas DuMez was the champion in two events: The 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke, placing him on the All-DAC team twice. The boys’ team finished seventh and defeated Highland School; the girls’ team also finished seventh. Congratulations to the team and coach Brad Boelter on another good year in the pool.