MVP Awards Honor Top Players From Ten Teams
Fans and families were on the edges of their seats during the final two matches of the Education Foundation’s Academic Olympics season on the last Saturday in March. Teams were neck-in-neck all the way, with the lead switching back and forth all afternoon.
In the last minutes of the Championship Game, perennial rivals Pine View and Riverview were tied 100-100 going into the third of three rounds. But the Pine View Pythons scored big with answers to the final Team Questions and went on to claim the “Culture Vulture” trophy with a final score of 194-156.
The action kicked off at 9 a.m. in the School Board Chambers at The Landings. Riverview’s Rams bested the Sarasota High Sailors 209-129 in the first match of the day. The morning’s other match featured Pine View vs. Venice High’s spirited Indians, with the Pythons victorious at 201-105. After lunch, Sarasota played Venice for third place honors in one of the closest matches of the entire season. In the end, the Sailors edged out the Indians in a nail-biter, 132-124.
Nine weeks of round robin competition were held January–March, featuring top players from ten area high schools, culminated in the intellectual “final four” on March 29.
For the first time in the program’s history, the Most Valuable Player from each of the ten participating high school teams were honored. Each MVP received a $250 award from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. The 2014 MVPs from each school were Booker High’s Sarah Bell; Cardinal Mooney’s Nick Etz; Imagine School at North Port’s Michael DeHay; North Port High’s Nick Sawyer; Pine View’s Thomas Chaffee; Riverview High’s Turner Means; Sarasota High’s Nathaniel Folkins; Sarasota Military Academy’s Alex Bardenhagan; Suncoast Polytechnical High’s Erik Palm; and Venice High’s Patrizio Murdocca.
The college bowl-style Academic Olympics, now in its 33rd year, is the only program for Sarasota County high schools that provides the opportunity for competitive team efforts in academics comparable to athletics.
Over the years, members of the Sarasota County teams have won scholarships and competed nationally with Team Florida. Academic Olympics expenses are covered by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, which produces the series in partnership with the schools. Both Venice and Sarasota branches of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) have supported the program from its inception by recruiting, training and deploying volunteers as procedural judges, timekeepers, and moderators. The Military Officers Association of Sarasota donates prizes awarded to the student teams. Other Sarasota County teachers and retired teachers serve as content judges.
The Academic Olympians include many of Sarasota County’s most academically talented students. Each has earned a place on his or her school team through vigorous competition at the school level. This year’s coaches include Booker High’s Annette Doroff-Blunt and Ian Cicco, Cardinal Mooney High’s Katherine Jewell, Imagine School at North Port’s Corey Rose, North Port High’s Karyn Strauss, Pine View’s Blake Wiley and Paul Dean, Riverview High’s Christina Feasley and Margaret Jones, Sarasota High’s Austin Dunk and Merlin Schenk, Sarasota Military Academy’s Erin Bogie, Suncoast Polytechnical High’s Dana Lowery and Jeffrey Kahler, and Venice High’s Stephen Case. Eve Johnston coordinates the program.
The ACADEMIC OLYMPIC GOLD sponsor is the Dart Foundation. OLYMPIC BRONZE sponsor is the American Association of University Women (AAUW) – Venice Branch. Other contributors underwrite participants with gifts of $100 to sponsor a student.