After a win in the Chicago regional tournament, University High School’s Academic Team competed in the 2018 National Academic Championship and finished 3rd in the country!

The Trailblazers team of Alex Brinkman, Alex Johnson, Jay Maturi, Jack Paganelli, and Tom Plant (all 2018 graduates) traveled to Chicago in early June with coaches Chris Bradley and Jake Thurman. The Trailblazers beat out 26 other qualifying teams to become a 2018 National Academic Championship Semifinalist. The Trailblazers and the three other semifinalists (winners of regional tournaments) traveled to Orlando on Sunday, June 17 to compete for the national championship.

The Trailblazers competed against The Altamont School (Georgia) and Chatham High School (New Jersey) in the national finals but unfortunately lost to both teams. In the end, the Trailblazers finished 3rd in the tournament, and 3rd overall in the nation.

Congratulations to the Trailblazers on their first-ever appearance in the national finals!

Winning the Chicago Regional Tournament

The Chicago tournament was broken up into a preliminary round and a single-elimination tournament. The Trailblazers went 5-1 in the six preliminary matches, averaged 325 points per match, and earned a #2 seed in the tournament. The #1 seed was Bexley High School (Ohio), which was the only team that beat the Trailblazers in the preliminary round. After a first-round bye in the single-elimination tournament, the Trailblazers faced #10 seed Greenwood High School (Arkansas). The first round was close, but UHS had the late edge: 45-35. The Trailblazers broke the match open in the second round, taking four toss-up questions and sweeping one category. The score was UHS 150, Greenwood 70 after two rounds. UHS kept the momentum going into the third round, and the score was UHS 300, Greenwood 100 after three rounds. The Trailblazers padded the lead in the fourth round, going away with a winning score of 420-150.

The semifinal match was against University of Detroit Jesuit (Michigan). This match progressed in a similar manner to the Greenwood match. UHS led after the first round 70-10 and 135-60 after the second round. UHS went into the fourth round leading 225-100. Jesuit closed the 125-point gap down to 50 by reeling off four of the first five questions in the fourth round. UHS didn’t score until the 9th question of the round; Jay Maturi finally got us on the board in this round. This score helped loosen things up for our team, which scored on six of the final ten questions of the match, securing the 330-190 victory.

The championship match was a rematch against undefeated #1 seed Bexley. The Trailblazers took a 70-40 lead in the first round — a good start. Bexley chipped away at this lead and eventually flipped it by taking the first four toss-up questions. Luckily for our side, they swept only one of the bonus categories. Scoring the final toss-up question put somewhat of a break on Bexley’s momentum. Still, the Trailblazers trailed 130-100 after two rounds. The third round was critical for UHS. A near-sweep in the category of Social Studies (making their history teacher coach proud!) and a couple of steals allowed the Trailblazers to take the lead back. The score was 210 UHS, 190 Bexley at the end of the third round. The questions in the final round of the championship match were pretty darn hard. Each team picked up only one question in the first six of the round. Two questions in a row scored by Jack Paganelli gave our side a 45-point lead halfway through the round. He added a third on question #12. This created a lead that Bexley could not overcome. UHS emerged victorious, 270-225.

All told in this tournament, the Trailblazers averaged 330 points per game. Individually, Jack Paganelli led the scoring with 920 individual points. Alex Brinkman scored 315, Alex Johnson scored 240, and Jay Maturi scored 155.