On Saturday, Mar. 11, University High School’s Academic Team won the 2023 State Championship! The Trailblazers hosted the State Academic Team Tournament–a first in the school’s history–marking the return of the state tournament since it was last held in March 2019.
For the 2022-23 season, the Trailblazers were Brownsburg Tournament champions, WRAL Central Division champions, WRAL regular season champions, WRAL tournament champions, and now Indiana State Champions. The team, coached by Chris Bradley and Jake Thurman, have built a reputation over the past several years as a team to beat with a 51-1 over the last two years, 58-1 over the last three, and 74-5 over the last four years.
The team completed the tournament with a 5-0 finish, which solidified their undefeated season with an impressive record of 28 wins and 0 losses.
According to Bradley, Lyn Schneider, WRAL Director and long-time coach of Harrison High School’s Academic Team, highlighted the team’s unprecedented achievement when she said that she’d “never seen an undefeated season before.”
Many teams qualified and were invited to the state tournament, which included teams from Brebeuf Jesuit, Cathedral High School, Southport High School, and Eastbrook High School, in addition to University. Senior and team captain Karl Wang, juniors Marie Coutant, and Steven Zhang, and sophomores Mikey Cardwell and Lukas Fiur represented the Trailblazers.
The state tournament plays a similar game to what the team plays in the WRAL, but some changes applied. For instance, the point totals are different; in round 1, for instance, questions count for 5 or 10 points (instead of 2 points in WRAL) and in round 4, questions count for 15 or 20 points (instead of 3 points). Additionally, in this tournament, teams play with 4 players at a time instead of 5, as in the WRAL, so one team member sat out for each of the rounds.
In the first match, University faced the Southport Cardinals. The Blazers started strong with a score of 95-15 in round 1 and 90-0 in round 2. All Trailblazers scored points in the first round and Mikey Cardwell scored on all four of the toss-up questions in round 2 (Bonus Round). University continued their performance in round 3 (60-second round), 110-20, as well as round 4: 155-15 where Karl Wang captured 95 points in round 4.
Final score: UHS 450, Southport 50.
The second match was a bye, meaning the team held an intra-squad match, with Karl and Mikey squaring off against Steven, Lukas, and Marie. They battled to a 265-265 tie by the end of Round 4. Mikey scored on the tiebreaker.
For match 3, UHS met up against the Cathedral Fighting Irish. This match played out similarly to the first with the Blazers outscoring the Irish 95-10 in round 1 and 80-10 in round 2. Once again, all Blazer players scored in the first round. The third round resulted in a score of 120-60, and 225-60 for round 4.
Final score: UHS 520, Cathedral 140.
Match 4 brought the Trailblazers against the Eastbrook Panthers. Of note, Eastbrook was the first team that University High School ever faced in the state tournament in March 2010, in the first year of the UHS academic team.
The match started out close, with scoring going back-and-forth in round 1 and a tied score of 40-40. With the pressure on in round 2, Mikey scored on two tossups, while Karl and Marie each scored one, to give the UHS a 60-30 edge by the end of the round. For Round 3, UHS earned 90 points to Eastbrook’s 70, giving UHS a 190-140 lead going into the final round. The Trailblazers outscored the Panthers in this critical round 105-65 to secure the win.
Final score: UHS 295, Eastbrook 205.
In the final match of the round-robin between the five teams, UHS matched up against their old rival, Brebeuf. The Blazers outscored the Brebeuf Braves 90-10 in round 1, led by Karl’s 40 points. Round 2 was closer, with UHS taking the round 45-30. The third round was evenly matched, with each team scoring 80 points, which meant University had a 215-120 lead going into the final round. The Blazers scored a tournament-low of 80 points in this round, but it was offset by the fact that the Braves scored 0 points in the round.
Final score: UHS 295, Brebeuf 120.
By the championship round, UHS held a 4-0 record from the round robin portion. Brebeuf was second at 3-1, meaning the two teams would face off for the state championship. The set-up was an “advantaged final,” meaning that a best two-of-three matches would determine the state champion, but the first head-to-match up between the two teams (a UHS victory) would count. Therefore, if UHS were to win the next match, they’d be champions!
Match 6 began with an advantage to the Blazers, 75-35. University took three of the four toss-up questions in round 2 and won the round with a score of 55-25. The Blazers stretched the lead by taking the third round at 110-50. The final round was relatively close at 90-80, but the Blazers held their lead to seal the championship!
Final score: UHS 330, Brebeuf 190.
The win marks the second time in school history that UHS has won the state championship, and the first time since 2015.
Well done, Blazers!