GAINESVILLE, FL — On Saturday, March 25, the Northmont Academic Challenge team traveled to Gainesville, Florida to compete in the Florida Undergraduate Tournament. Northmont was one of three high school teams in the field competing against 15 college and university teams.
Northmont started preliminary play with a 365-155 win over the College of Central Florida when senior Kara Combs scored 95 to lead the T-Bolts. The team then drilled Santa Fe Community College in round two by a score of 565-50. Combs scored 145 points in the second round match-up, while eighth grader Samantha Street (playing up with the high school team) scored 35 points. Northmont defeated the University of Central Florida 330-150 in round three, setting up two huge match-ups against the University of Florida and Florida State University.
Kara Combs went on another tear against the Florida State Seminoles, scoring 105 points and leading Northmont to a 365-270 win, setting up a first place battle between the T-Bolts and the Gators. A back and forth game against the University of Florida came down to the final question, which was answered by Northmont junior Ryan Laing, clinching a 5-0 preliminary finish for the T-Bolts and a No. 1 playoff seed with a 295-265 win.
Northmont opened the playoffs with a win over New College of Florida 310-275, and then knocked off Chippola Community College in the next round 335-260. Last weekend, Chippola finished as the No. 2 ranked community college team in the nation at the NAQT Community College National Championship tournament. This set up a quarterfinal match with Auburn University. The T-Bolt attack was much more balanced in this game, with freshman Athena Dobles and junior Caitlin Hoyng scoring early points to keep the Bolts in the match, and 8th grader Street picking up the last question to help the Bolts to a 335-325 victory.
In the semifinals, Northmont was defeated 330-220 in a rematch with the Florida Gators when the team “negged” (incorrect answers on buzzes) four times late in the match to lose a big lead, allowing Florida to come back for the win and eliminate Northmont from contention. A frustrated Northmont team fell in their final game to South Fork High School (ranked No. 4 in Florida) to finish with an 8-2 record, but a 3rd place overall finish.
This is the second time in the past three seasons that the team has placed in the top three of a college tournament after defeating Michigan State to win ACF Fall in 2015. The team spent a day in Tampa Bay after the tournament and two days at Universal Studios as part of their spring break. The team will travel to St. Charles HS next weekend to compete for the NAQT Ohio State Championship and will compete in the National History Bowl National Championship tournament in Washington DC on April 22. For more information on the Academic Challenge team, contact advisor David Jones at email@example.com