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Bate Academic Team finishes 8th in the nation

By RAMONA PIERCE

Bate Academic Team Captain

Student participants in nearly every extracurricular activity are feeling the sting of cancelled tournaments, seasons and celebrations that ended early or never even began. The John W. Bate Middle School academic team also felt this disappointment keenly due to the postponement of state finals three days prior to their scheduled beginning at the Galt House in Louisville. Then, again after the cancellation of them in mid-May after weeks of extra study and practice.

This team led by eighth-grade leaders Carsen Wastell, Evan Sanders, Sofia Wilson and Elena Griffiths were poised to do well after a very successful season where they had finished no worse than fourth at any quick recall tournament, and finished with a total of 13 team trophies along with various individual testing awards. 

Bate was one of a handful of teams in the state expected to take it all this season, and were poised to have some great finishes in testing this year after another finish as Region 16 champions. The team had qualified for two national tournaments — NAQT for middle school in May, which was cancelled, and NAC junior nationals for 5th – 9th graders in June.

NAC modified their rules and offered a virtual national championship for die hard quick recall teams, thus some of the season was salvaged. 

This event is normally held at locations like Chicago, Washington D.C., Orlando and New Orleans. Bate middle school has qualified for NAC junior nationals from its inception a dozen years ago, actually holding the honor of the first national championship in quick recall at the junior level in Washington D.C. its first year. Bate has been a fixture in the playoffs every year but one, and has finished in the top eight or higher multiple times with a runner-up finish in Chicago last year. 

The team held virtual practices several times a week from April 1 until the tournament ended the first weekend of June. All team members were invited, but in the end the players who competed in the NAC virtual national championship were team captain Ramona Pierce, Hank Helmers, Elena Griffiths, Moira Kelly, Henry Pennington, Evan Sanders and Carsen Wastell. 

Bate was one of two teams to go undefeated in the prelims held over the last two weekends of May, and went into the playoffs as the number two seed on Friday June.

The team met and defeated teams from Minnesota, multiple Ohio teams, Arkansas, Kansas, and Pennsylvania during its preliminary/playoff run.

John W. Bate was not the only Kentucky middle school team to do well as they were joined in the playoffs by Edmonson County, Owensboro, and Winburn.

Bate’s playoff run ended in the second round by an Upper Dublin team from Pennsylvania that Bate had defeated in the prelims a week prior. Upper Dublin was defeated in the final four by the Edmonson team who went on to finish tied as co- champion.

The team was proud to finish in the top eight in the nation

The John W. Bate team wants to express its gratitude to the many members of the school district and the community who have voiced their support for the team throughout yet another season. And a special thank you to coach Tony Carney for his unwavering dedication to us even in the midst of this COVID 19 pandemic. 

Many do not know it, but after almost 30 years of dedication to not only the John W. Bate Academic team, but also as one of JWBMS finest teachers, he quietly slipped into retirement last year from full time teaching.

He will certainly be missed by all in his retirement from teaching, but the team’s record of almost 20 straight years as district champion, over 20 consecutive years of region titles or runner up finishes, over 20 years of advancing most portions of the academic team to state finals, and the teams almost annual national ranking will be hard to duplicate by the next coach once he officially retires from coaching too.  

The Bate team would also like to thank the NAC organization along with all others working in new ways to give meaningful experiences despite this strange season of life that is the year 2020.