Lovell High School Academic Challenge team wins first two meets

Ryan Fitzmaurice

The Lovell High School Wyoming Academic Challenge team just won’t stop winning. 

Last year, the team topped Cheyenne Central High School to take home the state championship. Two meets into the 2022-23 season, the LHS Bulldogs have two more first place wins under their belt, despite having a roster full of new competitors. 

The Jeopardy-like competition involves teams of four competing in academic contests. Advisor Bret George said that teams have 15 seconds to answer questions ranging from current events, math, history, literature, grammar and more.

“You’ve got to be well-rounded,” George said. “It is about speed and very much about knowledge.”

Senior Keeton Mollett is the only remaining competing member from last year’s team. Joining him in the meets are Jarrett Allen, Jordan Allen, Garrett Lilliard and Rurik Olsen. 

The team began their year on Dec. 3 when they competed and took first in the Sheridan College meet against teams from across Wyoming.

George said the four students who competed, Mollett, Jarrett Allen, Jordan Allen and  Lilliard, all received $1,500 yearly scholarships to Sheridan College should they choose to attend after high school. 

“That’s a thing I love about this. It does open up opportunities for these kids to look at their futures with open eyes,” George said.  “It opens doors.”

They next competed in Burlington on Dec. 7, where they competed with teams across the Big Horn Basin, including schools such as Thermopolis, Ten Sleep, Worland and Meeteetse, as well as Rocky and Burlington. 

Again, the team took first. 

George said the success stems from the intelligence and work ethic of team members. The team only meets once a week outside of meets, during Tuesday at lunch, where they hold mini quiz-offs, George said.

“It’s an enjoyable group to be around,” George said. “Very enjoyable.”

But, while it’s enough time to sharpen skill, it’s not enough to account for the success the team has had. 

“I’m going to give kudos to parents. These young people have bought into being lifelong learners,” George said. “I’m also going to give a lot of credit to teachers. A lot of their knowledge comes from courses they have taken. These kids come to us very prepared.”

In fact, oftentimes the team is so prepared that it surprises George.

“They are just stellar,” George said. “I don’t know how they can retain some of the knowledge they have. It’s just amazing how many times they are answering a question that hasn’t even been (fully read).”

The team next travels to Powell for a meet this Saturday before traveling to  Cheyenne East on Jan. 21. They will then make a stop at Eastern Wyoming Community College in Riverton on Feb. 11 before competing to defend their state championship at Central Wyoming Community College in Riverton on March 18. 

George said his focus is on making sure that the group’s success continues year after year.

“I’m always looking down the road. How are we going to be successful next year and the
year after that?” George said. “We’re working hard to help some of the next kids who are going to compete with us in the future. I’m always going to be here, and I’m just trying to build a program.”