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Beating the buzzer -- and the competition

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

ELLIS -- With only two seniors on the team, Cheryl Shepherd-Adams is looking forward to years to come in scholars bowl competition at Hays High School.

But she plans to enjoy this year while it lasts.

Led by National Merit semifinalist Christopher Rooney, HHS finished second at the Ellis Tournament on Thursday with a 6-1 mark, with its lone loss coming to Class 3A power Norton.

Norton went unbeaten in seven matches on the day.

"We have the kids, there's no doubt about it," said Shepherd-Adams, who is helping resurrect HHS' scholars bowl team the past two years. "They did a good job today, and we have a couple of freshmen who are coming along real nicely."

Those two ninth-graders, Cole Jacobsen and Mariela Estrada, were joined by senior Colby Custer and junior Nicole Feyerherm in helping team captain Rooney lead the team to five straight wins Thursday before dropping a 60-40 decision to Norton. The Indians then closed out the day on a winning note with a win against Ellis.

It was the first team title this season for Norton in a year coach Nancy Sebelius calls a rebuilding one for the Bluejays. They survived two close, 10-point matches with Stockton and Ellis en route to the championship.

Stockton placed third in the eight-team event with a 5-2 mark.

"We went through five Beckers, and the last one graduated last year," Sebelius said with a laugh in reference to a family of five siblings that were leaders for Norton for several years. "So we're rebuilding, but we have three back from last year, and some younger ones coming up."

Ellis' Jacqueline Grogan, in her first year of coaching scholars bowl, also was pleased with her squad.

Grogan, who has taught at Ellis for 13 years, was asked by students to coach the team this year after last year's coach left Ellis.

She said she thought she would give it a try and has been surprised. Thursday, her squad hung with Norton the entire match before losing by a 30-20 score.

In fact, four of Ellis' losses on the day were by just one question, so "we're right there," Grogan said.

"It's been a lot of fun," said Grogan, who has watched her team grow in numbers as the season has progressed.

"We've had students who did not go out who have spoken to other students on the team, and they came out in the middle of the season," Grogan said. "We are building, and I'm seeing that as we go along, they are getting a lot more self confident."

TMP wins crown

Thomas More Prep-Marian High School claimed its fifth league scholars bowl crown in a row Thursday, going 6-0 at the Mid-Central Activities Association Tournament at Hoisington.

It was the first tourney title of the season for the Monarchs, who had just one senior on the team in Ross Werth.

TMP had one close score, beating Ellinwood 60-50 on a challenge question. Hoisington took second with a 3-3 record. Other members of the Monarchs' 2013 championship team were juniors Rachel Becker, Jacob Brull, Ryan Hammerschmidt, Kayla Hockett and Justin Raynesford, sophomore Lucas Diehl and freshman Justyce Briney,

The perfect mark raised TMP's overall season to 26-8 heading into a busy three weeks to close out the regular season. The Monarchs will compete at Oakley, Phillipsburg and Norton before taking part in a Class 3A regional tourney Jan. 31 at Russell.