By Larry Austin
Four Grand Island High School seniors earned bragging rights as well as $400 each for college after winning the 17th annual Grand Island School and Business Alliance Corporate Bowl on Tuesday.
The quartet of Pushpinder Singh, Andrew Colautto, Ryan Marlin and Devlin McMaster, known as the Democratic Peoples Republic of GI, edged the 50 Shades of Grape team of Ian Hardison, Jonathan Link, Colton McGraw and McLain Erhard by 10 points in the finals, 160 to 150.
The main event was held on St. Patrick's Day in the Grand Viking Theater of Grand Island High School.
Winning had a little extra sweetness for the four because it both completed some unfinished business from last year's event and avenged a wrong.
"It feels really nice. It feels like my four years have led up to something," said winner Ryan Marlin. The four victors, all seniors, were runners-up a year ago as juniors to The Gortonators, another senior-laden team. Having the same quartet two years in a row made a positive difference in bowl game performance this year, the winners said.
"I think it's really helpful, yeah, because we're all really close friends, so knowing each other kind of allows us to know what each other will know and what we can guess on," McMaster said.
"If you think you might know something, if somebody else on the team is probably going to know it better, you don't buzz in and you wait a little bit more," Singh explained.
In the three-team finals, The Warlocks (Jake Frosolone, Christian Hilts, Eric Riederer and Jordan Piershalski) were in the thick of the action at the halfway mark with 70 points, tied with the Democratic Peoples Republic of GI and just 10 points back of 50 Shades of Grape, but they faded down the stretch and took home third-place money. 50 Shades correctly answered two of the last three questions to almost pull off a comeback.
The first two of
three semifinals on the night were close, with 10 points separating the three
teams that competed in both of the first two contests. 50 Shades had a big
75-point total in round two to win its semi, while The Warlocks
advanced after a hard-fought semi over last year's finalists, Do Ask, Do Tell and We Don't
Do Physics. Only the Republic had a convincing semifinal win, leading by 55 points after the first round of questions and winning by 135 points.
Grand Island School Superintendent Dr. Teresa Lawrence welcomed the participants and their supporters to the 17th annual event, which matches four-student teams in a quiz show format consisting of questions in areas of math, history, science and literature.
"It's a great opportunity for our students, perhaps some or our brightest students, uniquely talented students, to come together, compete against one another to see just who has a level of smarts more than the other," Lawrence said.
Lawrence praised the corporate sponsors and the Grand Island School and Business Alliance for making the event possible.
Lawrence said that GISBA meets monthly, "And the goal there is to talk about ways in which the school community can collaborate with the business community to provide authentic learning opportunities and experiences for students so that they are, in fact, college and career-ready wherever that is that they make their way."
Lawrence also thanked teachers Mark Gorton and Cheryl Chamberlain for their leadership at the event, and teachers and administrators who serve as judges and timers.
Nine semifinal teams qualified through a written test. The Republic emerged as the top seed, and their win was sweet vindication.
"When we were freshmen, it was me, Andrew and Ryan," McMaster said, and another teammate who "decided to abandon us to form his own team. So we recruited Pushpinder."
"Betrayal!" Marlin said.
"And he's been our friend since sixth grade, and he abandoned us," McMaster said.
A reporter said he wouldn't name out the traitor. "If you want to, his name is Kurt," McMaster responded.
Even with $2,800 in prize money up for grabs, the winners were playing for pride most of all.
"I know a lot of people would feel otherwise, but I feel like the sense of achievement is more important than the scholarship money in something like this," McMaster said.
"Bragging rights," Colautto said in agreement.
"Over Kurt," McMaster added.
"Kurt was talking trash," Marlin said of the team's nemesis.
"Oh, yeah, he was severely talking trash before this. His whole team was," McMaster said.