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'Totally stunned': South Heart School wins surprising victory at regional Acalympics

The students from South Heart School didn't expect to win. Their expectations were low, but they were having fun, goofing off and doing pushups in between rounds. When they won the regional Acalympics in the large school division Tuesday, they we...

South Heart students Seth Polensky, Adeline Robbins, Jacob Zastoupil, Campbell Clarys, Avery Hodell and Genavive Robbins won the regional Acalympics competition on Tuesday and will advance to the state competition Monday, March 25. Submitted photo
South Heart students Seth Polensky, Adeline Robbins, Jacob Zastoupil, Campbell Clarys, Avery Hodell and Genavive Robbins won the regional Acalympics competition on Tuesday and will advance to the state competition Monday, March 25. Submitted photo

The students from South Heart School didn't expect to win. Their expectations were low, but they were having fun, goofing off and doing pushups in between rounds.

When they won the regional Acalympics in the large school division Tuesday, they were "totally stunned," said Paula Lengowski, their Acalympics adviser.

They made it through the written round of 40 questions covering math, science, language arts, social studies, current events and electives. The top three teams advanced to the lightning round - and the South Heart team was one of them.

"We didn't even expect to make the lightning round," said Avery Hodell, South Heart team member. "We were ready to go home, and then they announced our team."

Hodell said they went into the lightning round with low expectations, too, doing pushups prior to starting.

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"They were! They were doing pushups before the lightning round," Lengowski laughed. "They were really goofy 'cause I think they thought this is funny 'cause we're going to go in there and get our butts kicked, maybe. They didn't have big dreams."

Those low expectations may have worked in their favor.

"I think that's what killed the other teams, was the stress they probably had," Hodell said.

Lengowski said she often meets students who don't think they're smart enough to compete.

"I think something interesting from my perspective is that when I go around and have to recruit kids to be on the team, if they don't readily agree and I have to do some convincing, I always get the remark, 'I'm not smart enough,' she said. "It just is good for them to know you're just as smart as - if not smarter than - the other kids."

They did fairly well in science, which also surprised them. Hodell attributes a big part of that success to their science teacher, Christine Moe.

Their hardest categories were current events and electives, but it was an elective question that broke their tie with Trinity for the win. The question: Who was the composer of "Four Seasons"?

Team member Seth Polensky said they had learned the answer in class recently - Antonio Vivaldi.

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The South Heart team, which also included students Jacob Zastoupil, Campbell Clarys, Adeline Robbins and Genavive Robbins, will advance to the state competition in Bismarck Monday, March 25. The team will compete in the Class B large division against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, Bottineau, Thompson, Wilton and Oak Grove. A total of 18 schools will compete.

Half of the team won't be able to make it, though - including Hodell.

"They're going to Close Up this weekend, to Washington, D.C. ... We have to fill in with replacements, so it'll be interesting to see," Lengowski said.

Hodell said he will try to watch the competition from afar, as it will be broadcast on BEK TV.

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