Members of the Waterford Union High School Academic Bowl team gather for a photo after winning their ninth-straight Southern Lakes Conference title in the 2019 competition held at Union Grove High School in February. Team members are (front row, from left) Molly Witzeling, Aubrie Torhorst, Jacob Wunder, Miranda Vescio, Rebecca Bender; (second row) Alyssa Cornell, Faith Moerke, Kennedy Lindeman, Carson Gaylord; (back row) coach Tina Backhaus, Sophia Schoenfeld, Isabella North, Hannah Jones, Logan Baker, Joseph Cramer, Adam Forkner, Quentin Jehn, Kolby Sholly, Gillian Tonn, Margaret Bennett and Olivia Tuska.

Team continues domination of SLC competition

A cheer rang out as the Waterford Union High School Academic Team prepared to step off the bus before this year’s Southern Lakes Conference Academic Bowl on Feb. 11: “Two, four, six, eight: we are here to dominate.”

And dominate they did, an expression emblazoned on their team shirts “Domin-8,” reminding their conference foes of Waterford Union High School’s eight-year winning streak.

Undaunted by the pressure of potentially ending this long-standing streak, the Academic Team, coached by teacher Tina Backhaus, extended its reign, taking the conference title with 851 points, well ahead of its nearest competitors, Union Grove (824 points) and Elkhorn (799 points), even after a tabulation error that temporarily awarded Waterford 24 additional points.

Every year the eight conference schools send their best and brightest to vie for the title of Southern Lakes Academic Bowl Conference Champion. This year’s competition was hosted by Union Grove High School.

Students compete in the four core academic areas – English, science, math, and social studies – with each subject further broken down into four specific categories.

In the individual round of competition, Waterford students scored first in social studies; second in science and math; and third in English. The team maintained its lead in the oral round of competition in which students collaboratively answered questions in English, math, science, social studies, and current events.

Following the oral competition, results were tallied and awards given to the top students in each category and the overall winning school.    Of the 16 individual categories, Waterford had six champions: Kolby Sholly, algebra II; Miranda Vescio, biology; Joseph Cramer, geography; Hannah Jones, World history; Aubrie Torhorst, civics; and Sophia Schoenfeld, English potpourri.

A newcomer to the team, sophomore Schoenfeld said, “I was so nervous,” feeling the pressure of carrying the torch of her two predecessors, who previously combined for seven consecutive victories in English potpourri. With Schoenfeld’s title, that streak now stands at eight.

The team was comprised of 20 members, including freshmen Carson Gaylord, Gillian Tonn, Olivia Tuska, Jacob Wunder; sophomores Logan Baker, Joseph Cramer, Sophia Schoenfeld, Molly Witzeling; juniors Rebecca Bender, Alyssa Cornell, Quentin Jehn, Hannah Jones; and seniors Kennedy Lindeman, Isabella North, Adam Forkner, Miranda Vescio, Faith Moerke, Aubrie Torhorst, Margaret Bennett, and Kolby Sholly.

For Sholly, a senior who took algebra II as an eighth grader four years ago, this year’s victory capped off three strong years of him taking the top spot in the conference.

“I was kind of taking it easy at the beginning and then realized that time was running out, so I quickly finished and checked my earlier answers, which is good because I had some wrong (answers) at first and changed them,” Sholly said.

As the team looks toward next year when Waterford hosts the competition, this year’s victory will hold a special place in the heart for Superintendent Keith Brandstetter, who will retire at the end of this school year.

“This was an ideal retirement gift,” Brandstetter said.. “We take pride in our academic focus, and being the Southern Lakes Conference champ nine years in a row truly shows this.”