“Team members Evan Welch, Rowan Murdock, Diego Winn, Gail Leavitt and Kyler Helquist played very well together to cinch this first championship,” said the team’s advisor and coach, Mike Estenson. “They call themselves ‘The Sven Guild’ and their enthusiasm and knowledge served them very well.”
The team competed against middle school teams from Helper, Mont Harmon, San Rafael, Canyon View and Alfred R. Lyman. At their March 1 home opener, the varsity team won four of five games in the pool play and were seeded second against the other seven teams in the single-elimination bracket for the championship. During the championship they won all three games to take the first-place trophy. Helper had two teams that finished second and third.
The junior varsity team of Ryder Murdock, Dayson Ward, Ivory Hickman, Daren Reed and Dalton Wood won two of five games in pool play. Due to time constraints the single-elimination bracket only included the top six teams out of 24, which the GCMS junior varsity barely missed making.
“They are doing a great job in building confidence and experience,” Estenson said.
On March 8, the teams traveled to Green River to play against all of the same teams from the region. The varsity team went undefeated in pool play and was the top seed. In one game they answered all seven questions correctly to defeat Alfred R. Lyman Middle School from Blanding. In the afternoon tournament, Grand lost to Mont Harmon in the finals and placed second overall.
“The team received great news this week that in winning the March 1 tournament in Moab they qualified for the 35th annual National Junior Academic Championships,” Estenson said. “Grand County Middle School has attended this prestigious event four times in the past and it is exciting to see our small town showcase its talented students on a national stage like this.”
The teams will compete in two more tournaments this spring. On March 21 the teams travel to Mont Harmon Middle School in Price, and on March 28 they will compete at Alfred R. Lyman Middle School in Blanding.