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Sierra Lutheran wins Academic Olympic title

Special to The R-C

Carson Valley residents appreciate that when the leaves fall from the trees, the slopes open for skiing, and grocery shopping includes the purchase of items like turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes, it must be late November. Perhaps it’s time to add another indicator to the signals of the season.

For the fourth, yes fourth, straight year, Sierra Lutheran High School has won the Nevada Class 1A Academic Olympic State Championship.

The Falcons’ amazing feat was accomplished with a blend of veteran and new team members, but the result was the same as in 2006, 2007 and 2008. After garnering their sixth consecutive regional championship earlier in the month, the Falcons were cautiously optimistic that they would do well again at the state event.

A solid, four-round performance in the preliminaries easily qualified SLHS for the semifinals, where six schools competed for the right to advance to the three team championship round. Halfway through the semifinals, the Falcons found themselves in fourth place and in serious danger of not advancing to defend their 2008 crown. A strong finish in the semifinals, however, boosted the team into the finals where they encountered the other schools who distinguished themselves as the “best of the best” – Tonopah and Virginia City high schools.

The 30-minute championship round is a pressure-filled, winner-take-all competition for the state title. Sierra Lutheran’s team in the final round included seniors Andrew Deterding, Aaron Sever, Jesse Walser-Castro and Nick Winstead along with juniors Sydney Campau and Haley Stokes. The Falcons jumped out to a quick lead and maintained the margin to win the title comfortably.

“To win any state championship is a special experience,” said SLHS Executive Director Norm Brauer. “To win two in a row is amazing. To capture four consecutive state titles is nothing short of extraordinary.

“This accomplishment is quite a testimony to our students, their teachers, and the quality of education taking place at Sierra Lutheran High School. Year after year after year, with different combinations of students representing their school, our Falcons have been able to succeed against the top public and private small high schools in the state of Nevada.”

Congratulations also go to Virginia City High School, which finished in second place this year, and to Coleville for qualifying for the semifinal rounds of the tournament.

In addition to those already mentioned, Sierra Lutheran’s 2009 team included sophomores Conner Love and Mikey Overton, along with freshmen Jacob Medlock and Matt Tollefson.