One thing was quite evident from the Wapakoneta High School academic competition team. Confidence will never be a problem.
The team is made up of the same members for the second year in a row. Seniors Chris Schwartz, Joey Jose and Cole Thrush, junior Ross Kohler, and sophomores George Jose and Austin Klingler are making a name for themselves. After many years of lukewarm results, the group is making Wapakoneta a force on the academic competition trail.
On Dec. 5, they brought home victory in the Auglaize-Allen County Black Swamp League championship held at Lima Central Catholic High School.
“Our goal is to win and be the best,” Klingler said. “We won it last year, so we had an expectation this year.”
While everyone on the team exuded the same confidence as Klingler, it is apparent the confidence has been earned by the team’s hard work rather than just being a confident swagger.
“The team all works really hard,” said Adam Friemering, a teacher at the high school and adviser for the team. “They take it very seriously and they take a lot of pride in their performance.”
The secret to the team’s success has been their ability to complement each other. In the typical academic competition, the areas of math, science, literature and music are all covered.
“We have a great mix,” Friemering said. “That is probably why they have been so successful.
The team practices by meeting three or four times each week and also uses online sources to study.
The team also competed in the WTLW Whiz Quiz in October, where they finished second to Crestview by mere points. They followed that up with the championship performance. Their only scheduled competition left for now is the Western Buckeye League match in March, but the team is hoping they get the chance to take it a step further.
“Since they won the league, they now have the chance to apply for regional competition,” Friemering said.
Friemering said they are exploring that possibility. In its seven years of existence, the academic team had managed a few third place finishes but never has performed strong enough to apply for regional competition.
If it was the team’s decision, they are ready to go.
“I think that would be awesome,” Schwartz said.
Klingler said he felt the team had the ability to perform well if they participated in regionals.
“I’d like to think so,” Klingler said.
Joey Jose said the team’s success has been their ability to relax and rely on each other.
“We just go in and relax,” said Jose, who is a Scripps-Howard spelling bee champion along with his brother, George. “We get in our zone. We go in there and do our best and hopefully come out of it with a trophy.”
The sophomores agreed that it is their intent to keep the tradition running.
“We want to win the league all four years,” Kohler said.
Friemering said the success of the group can all traced back to the education they are receiving in the Wapakoneta City School District.
“All I do is supervise and get them together,” Friemering said. “Their success can all be put on all of our teachers. The kids have a strong educational background.”