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August 28, 2014

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Palo Verde claims first Varsity Quiz title

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News

Palo Verde senior Thomas Cole continues working as Kian Ameli, right, answers a math question during the Varsity Quiz finals Monday afternoon at Vegas PBS studios.

Palo Verde wins Varsity Quiz championship

Palo Verde seniors, from left, Thomas Cole, Kian Ameli and Taylor Krabial react with laughter as the judges announced their team won the Varsity Quiz championship Monday afternoon at Vegas PBS studios. Palo Verde was victorious over Green Valley 165 to 125. Launch slideshow »

The Varsity Quiz team from Palo Verde High School had scored high all year. Only the final match Monday stood between team members and the school's first Varsity Quiz championship.

Green Valley High School, on the other hand, had also scored well throughout the season, and had seven championship titles to back up those scores.

When it came down to it, though, a final score of 165-125 proved that, while the Green Valley team may have been worthy competitors, Palo Verde's determination was not to be beaten.

Coach Cheryl Waldman summed up the team's sentiment she silently mouthed "Unbelievable!" to her fellow coach and teammates in the audience.

Varsity Quiz is a high school version of "Jeopardy," where students field questions and have to be the first to ring in and provide a correct answer. Students have three rounds to earn as many points as possible.

Palo Verde has made it to the playoffs eight times, but never won.

"I don't think it's sunk in," captain Kian Ameli, a senior, said after the match.

Ameli came into the match having no idea what to expect, he said. Both teams were undefeated and both were expecting it would be a struggle.

The win was a nice parting gift for the Palo Verde seniors. T.J. Cole has been on the team since his freshman year and couldn't have asked for a better end.

"It's nice to have it in my senior year," he said. "I had a feeling we would pull it out, but not by so much. I thought it would only be five or 10 points."

Cole was happy to note he had contributed more to this win than previous wins. He rang in more this game than in the last three, he said.

The interesting part, he said, was he thought they didn't prepare as well as they could have. The practices after school are more about having fun than remembering facts.

"We don't prepare for any of this," he said, laughing. "We just have a lot of fun."

The Palo Verde team won $1,000 for their efforts, and Green Valley won $500. Ideally, that money goes toward scholarships for students, though it can also be used for the team, Sandy Ginger, student activities director for Clark County School District, said.

The event was complemented by the announcement of inductees to the Hall of Fame, started in 2007 to honor staff and coaches who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of Varsity Quiz. The Palo Verde coaches were among the inductees.

The pair has dedicated years to Palo Verde's team. Waldman has spent 14 years and Frank Franco has spent 12 years as a coach. He also coached for two years at Eldorado High School before that.

Ameli said it was fitting.

"They've worked hard. They deserve it," he said.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected].

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