Trinity Lutheran wins Academic Super Bowl state competition

A week later, Trinity Lutheran High School’s Academic Super Bowl English team is still basking in the glory.

In only the second year of the program at the Seymour school, another state title was claimed.

Seniors Maggie Neawedde, Lexi Schneider and Macy Taylor and sophomore Nathaniel Bauman combined to answer 18 of 25 questions correctly, putting them at the top of the Class 4 competitors.

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For the second time, they posted the best score in the state in their class, as they scored 19 in the area competition.

“Coming from such a small school, winning a state title is an irreplaceable memory and achievement,” Taylor said. “It’s incredible to see everything we can accomplish with our small group of talent. I am beyond proud of my team, and I am thrilled I get to conclude my senior year with winning a state title.”

Being a senior, winning a state title is special to Schneider.

“This is my first year doing Academic Super Bowl, and I’m glad I joined,” she said. “Winning state makes me think we are leaving a legacy at our school and influencing the younger classes to make their school better.”

Neawedde credited the team’s coach, Michelle Bauman, for helping them excel.

“Winning the title of state champs does not really make me proud of myself. I feel more pride in my coach and teacher, Mrs. Bauman,” Neawedde said. “She is the real reason we made it to state and won. Turning around after the competition and seeing her smiling and cheering and taking pictures meant more to me than the medal.”

Nathaniel, the team’s captain, said it felt great to see everyone’s hard work pay off.

“I also was extremely happy to see my teammates and mom so overjoyed at what we had done,” he said. “This is Trinity’s second Academic Bowl state title, and I can’t wait to go for a third.”

In 2016, Trinity’s interdisciplinary team captured a state title, while the math and science teams both were runners-up.

This year, with the theme of the French Revolution, the school sent five of its six teams to state at Purdue University’s Loeb Playhouse. Along with the English team’s win, fine arts and math finished as runners-up scoring 13 and 14, respectively, social studies was third with 14 and interdisciplinary was fourth with 11.

In math and interdisciplinary, the winning team in Class 4 scored one point higher than Trinity, while the winning fine arts team was three points higher, and the winning social studies team was eight points higher.

Medals went to the top three teams for each subject in each class, and the winning team also received a banner and plaques.

Going into the state finals, Michelle Bauman said the team had invested a tremendous number of hours outside the classroom for more than six months.

The whole time, they remained positive and enthusiastic, she said.

“I knew we’d have a shot at a state title a number of months ago when I saw how well they complemented each other,” she said. “Each team member had a set of distinct skills they brought to the table, and they shared those skills with the other members of the group, challenging each other to grow and have fun doing it.”

Trinity’s prom was the night before state, so some of the students were a little tired. Plus, there were some nerves since it was the state finals.

Michelle said she could tell the reality of making it to state was starting to sink in about an hour before the event, so they left the auditorium and met as a group.

“We worked through the poems one more time just like we had done before every competition, and the repetition, the pattern created confidence. I could actually see them calming down,” she said.

“When they started joking around, I knew they’d be OK,” she said. “At the end of our study session, I told them for the first time that I was certain they could win. We said a final prayer together after they lined up to enter the auditorium, and that brought them some peace, as well.”

Trinity led by one point going into the last question, but then some drama ensued.

The scoreboard stopped working, so the proctors had the teams reenter their final five answers. Right before the final scores were posted, the scoreboard stopped working again. Then they had to count the final question by hand.

The scores finally showed up, and Trinity won by a point.

“In this moment, I was terrified that another team’s score was miscalculated, and they would overtake first place,” Taylor said. “The 10 minutes it took to see the final results felt like 10 years; however, in the end, we kept our first-place title and pulled out the victory.”

Schneider said it was an interesting moment.

“No one knew if we won or not. I had butterflies,” she said. “They rebooted the system and went again, but ironically, it crashed again. Luckily, there were paper records of our score, so we won state.”

Michelle said winning was the perfect way to wrap up a great season.

“I can honestly say the team did as much laughing as they did intense studying during our meetings,” she said. “They clearly enjoyed each other’s company as much as I enjoyed them.”

Neawedde said her most memorable moment was when the team didn’t have school on a day they normally met, so they went to their coach’s house and studied the whole day.

“I remember thinking that it was going to be terribly tedious studying all day when we had just gotten the day off from school, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” she said. “We laughed and told stories while we practiced, ending the day with a home-cooked meal. We bonded so much as a team and certainly made memories that will last a lifetime.”

Throughout the last six months, Michelle said they became a family.

“That’s what I’ll miss most now that the competition is over — the camaraderie, the intellectual banter, watching them form friendships and helping them work toward a common goal. That was inspirational to see and to be part of,” she said. “Overall, I feel incredibly blessed to work with such a bright and enthusiastic team. I’m ecstatic for them. Their hard work ended in a win, but I would have been proud of them no matter the outcome.”

For Michelle, the win was twofold.

“As a mom, it meant making a memory with my son that I’ll have for the rest of my life. It was about being part of his accomplishment and watching him find success,” she said.

“But as a coach, the sense of accomplishment is even broader,” she said. “For me, winning the state title was a confirmation that what we’re doing at Trinity is working. It’s helping students reach goals they only dreamed of achieving, and I’m excited and honored that I was able to be part of that dream.”

Michelle also was proud of the other Trinity teams’ results at the state finals.

“Those statistics are great reminders not only that we’ve been blessed with excellent teachers and enthusiastic students at Trinity but also that we have much to be thankful for,” she said. “To God be the glory.”

Ben Stellwagen, principal at Trinity and coach of the math team, said as a testament to how much the students enjoy their academic pursuits, the underclassmen spent the bus ride home from the state finals brainstorming possible topics and areas of study for next year’s theme, World War I.