Sherando Academic Team moves on to state competition

STEPHENS CITY – The Sherando High School Academic Team has remained undefeated this season and moves on to the state competition Feb. 25.

Brian Davis, the team’s coach, said the eight team members include five seniors and three juniors, all excited to be heading to the state competition at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

Last year, he said, that team went to the state competition and earned second place after achieving second place in the conference and regional competitions. This year, the team won both conference and regionals, with high hopes for state. To win the region, the team beat out Loudoun County with a toss-up tie-breaker.

Last year was also the first year the team, which has been around for about 20 years, had advanced beyond the conference competition.

Davis added that in years past, beating John Handley High School in Winchester was the goal of the team, before their success at state last year.

“Handley had been the preeminent academic team forever. And when we beat Handley, that opened the door for everything else,” he said.

Senior Aidan Siira said in order to prepare for the competition, they look over practice packets and take quizlets on topics ranging from literature, science and mathematics to sports and popular culture.

Davis added that each team member has an “area of expertise” but also hopes that every member is a “little well-rounded.” Beginning in freshmen year, he said members pick a particular subject area that they try to excel at.

The team begins practicing once a week at the end of September, he said, with the season beginning after Thanksgiving through the end of February. Even after the end of the official season, tournaments are held around the region.

Siira said they attribute their success last year and this year to “really good team chemistry.”

“We’re all friends and all really close,” he added. “We know each other and know each other’s strong points and know each other’s weak points.”

Peter Haskins, senior and team captain, said he believes success can also be attributed to “good composure.” The team is able to stay calm under pressure and has seen good comebacks due to their composure during competitions.

Davis said that with the core bunch of seniors graduating at the end of the year, the team will need to begin recruiting new members for next year. They are hoping that a win at the state competition will bring forward students willing to join the team.

After graduating high school, team members are looking to enroll in universities with majors including pre-med, chemical engineering, business and law, history, political science, international affairs and peace and justice studies.

Davis added that many former academic team members visit over holiday breaks to inspire current team members and to give “sage advice.”

Team members include:
• Aidan Siira, senior.
• Ben Gustafson, senior.
• Ben Newhouse, senior.
• Peter Haskins, senior, and team captain.
• Nidhi Purohit, senior.
• Lindsey Christensen, junior.
• Wasiq Kabir, junior.
• Karter Ohlson, junior.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com