By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Auburn High School’s state-championship winning Scholastic Bowl team got the chance to show off its title and its skills Friday in front of the packed Dolph Stanley Gymnasium.
It was a rare opportunity for the team, which often travels to compete in front of smaller groups of onlookers, to get the kind of high-energy reaction to its accomplishments that are usually reserved for basketball and football games. But with a state championship in the bag and a national competition around the corner, the school held a rally Friday to celebrate the team’s achievements.
Team members entered the gym through a tunnel of cheerleaders after being given the classic Chicago-Bulls style player introductions. Team Captain Sinecio Morales, a senior, stepped onto the court last with the championship trophy hoisted above his head.
“I’ve been wanting to win state since I was a freshman, and it was really nice to see it actually happen,” Morales said.
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Morales will now compete in the individual national championships in Chicago on Sunday. The team is preparing for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments in Atlanta in May.
That comes after they bested Barrington High School, a group that’s been some of their toughest foes and closest friends, in the state championship March 18 by a score of 430-390.
“I’ve worked with this particular group all four years, and it was just great to see finally all that hard work come to fruition,” said head coach Nevagay Abel. “They’ve been so close, so often.”
Last year, Auburn placed third in the state Scholastic Bowl competition. That was the first year of the tournament after a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. The school placed second in 2019.
The team got to show its skill Friday in a competition against teachers. The state champions ultimately won 110-25 before school was let out.
Abel said this year’s team set itself apart because of its enthusiasm and dedication. They compete at tournaments twice a month and always seek out the toughest competition and the hardest set of questions.
“I don’t have to make them do this, they love to do it,” she said.
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When it came time for the state championship, they faced a Barrington team that had bested them earlier in the year. But Auburn and Barrington players are friendly rivals, Morales said.
“It was really fun to play them. I would play them over and over again,” he said.
Abel said the two teams are often running questions by each other and hanging out over Discord online chat.
“But when they’re competing it’s very serious,” she said. “Then as soon as it’s over they’re all hugs and high-fives. I think that’s what’s really nice about the Scholastic Bowl community.”
Morales said winning the state championship is one of the highlights of his four years at Auburn.
“Until we win nationals this year, of course, it’s definitely my proudest achievement so far.”
State champions | Auburn High School
Head Coach: Nevagay Abel (First IHSA state championship)
Assistant Coach: Linda Greene (Third IHSA state championship)
- Dardan Jakupi, freshman
- Luke Snyder, sophomore
- Huan Lin, junior
- Brielle Rach, junior
- Coby Thammavong, senior
- Alex Crowell, senior
- Sinecio Morales, senior
This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.