MHS Academic Team competes in state competition

Published 2:49 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

The Middlesboro High School Academic Team accomplished something that no other school in the 13th Region has after making it all the way to the state competition, where they brought home the title of runner-up.

“You don’t get to see these kids on basketball courts or out there on the football field, but I just want people to understand that academics is what it’s all about,” Academics head coach Richie Rogers said. “These kids have worked really hard to do this, and it’s a special accomplishment.”

Rogers, who has coached the academic team for six years and is also the guidance counselor at Middlesboro High School, explained that Middlesboro competed against magnet schools in Lexington and Louisville.

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“For little bitty Middlesboro to be up there in the state championship is awesome,” he said. “We’ve been successful in the past, but this year’s team has been exceptionally successful.”

Rogers explained that the teams play in a league called the Southeast Kentucky Academic League, and it includes teams from all around the 13th Region.

“Just like our baseball and basketball teams playing from Clay County and Whitley County,” explained Rogers. “We played all the teams and were undefeated. We finished the season 20-0 and won the league championship. That was pretty exciting.”

He said that anytime the team can win in their league and not lose a game, it’s special.

“That’s kind of the ultimate goal,” he said. “That’s basically our fall season, and that is the league play that gets us ready for Governor’s Cup, which then gets us ready for regional and state championships.”

The team played their district competition at the end of January, and Middlesboro won sending them on to regional competition.

“The regional competition was held at Whitley County High School,” explained Rogers. “We won that and came out undefeated. They were winning by quite a large margin during these games, and I knew we had a special team.”

He explained that once a team makes it to state, they have never played a lot of the teams, so they don’t know how well the teams play.

“We went up to state, and we made it to the Smart 16,” Rogers said. “It is played on the second day on Monday. We went through and we basically were winning games by double digits. We got to the Final Four and we played Glasgow High School.”

He said they beat Glasgow by five points in a win of 38-33 to make it to the state championship.

“It was awesome because there has never been a team from the 13th Region to ever play in the state championship,” Rogers said. “This was a big deal and we had teams from our entire region, coaches and players cheering us on showing their support the 13th Region.”

Rogers said the team gave it a good go in the state championship.

“We were actually up 22-19 at halftime,” he said. “We were playing really well but we were just kind of overwhelmed in the second half, and we were playing a really great team. It got away from us a little at the end. We ended up being state runners-up in Quick Recall, and it was a really great experience.”

Rogers said he and the entire school system as a whole are happy for them making it so far.

“Our kids were obviously disappointed at the end, but you know I told them they’ll think back on it and realize they played in the state championship,” he said. “They made it further than any Middlesboro team or any 13th Region team had ever made it before. I’m really proud of them.”

He explained that being on an academic team takes a willingness to work.

“A lot of people don’t realize that these kids put a lot of time into this,” he said. “They pick a subject they are really interested in, and we give them a program and stuff to study to improve on.”

There are five areas to compete in that include math, science, social studies, language arts, and arts and humanities.

Overall, the quick recall team finished second in the Governor’s Cup State Quick Recall Championship. Individual winners in the competition included: Andrew Kelley placed fourth in the state in social studies and Robby Griffey placed seventh in the state in language arts. Overall the team was fifth in the state.