Portsmouth High School is the Granite State Challenge Champion

Granite State Challenge - Championship

(DURHAM, May 16, 2021)  - Portsmouth High School defeated two-time defending champ Merrimack High in the championship game of Granite State Challenge. Portsmouth High last won the Granite State Challenge championship in the 1991-1992 school year when they defeated Dover High. Merrimack High took home the championship in 2021 and 2020.

Playing for Merrimack High were Captain and junior Jack Pikora, junior Rainier Murray, junior Aris Corman-O'Reilly, and junior Alli Pikora. The team alternates were senior Connor Bobbitt, and sophomore Kishan Sreenivasan. Sara Campbell coaches the team.  Merrimack High is located in Merrimack, NH in Hillsborough County, and enrolls around 1,170 students. Merrimack High defeated Kingswood Regional high in Round One, Plymouth Regional High in the Quarterfinals, and Nashua South High in the Semifinals.

Portsmouth High beat Mascoma High in Round One, ConVal High in the Quarterfinals, and Londonderry High in the Semifinals.  Playing for Portsmouth High were captain and senior Francis Powell along with seniors Rio Marcus, junior Nick Dahlen, senior Josie Sedam, and alternate senior Karina Havaleshko. Portsmouth High is coached by Hannah Dul and enrolls 1,084 students from Rye, Newcastle, Newington, Greenland, and Portsmouth.

In the first round of the game, correct answers are worth 10 points and there is no loss of points for incorrect answers. Merrimack's Rainier Murray picked up the first points of the game with a question about the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Portsmouth's Francis Powell answered the next question about the novel The Scarlet Letter correctly and picked up another 10 points on a question about the comic, Doonesbury. Merrimack's captain, Jack Pikora, put 20 points on the board with a question about the novella, Animal Farm and a question about Nebraska, the only state with a unicameral legislature. Portsmouth's Josie Sedam knew that Thomas Jefferson was the first secretary of state and Rio Marcus picked up another 10 points for Portsmouth with a question about the bell, Big Ben. Aris Corman-O'Reilly picked up 10 points for Merrimack by knowing that the movie Apocolypse Now was based on the Joseph Conrad novel, Heart of Darkness. At the end of the round, Merrimack led by a score of 140-130.

In the second round of the game, correct answers are worth 20 points and there is no loss of points for incorrect answers. The first question of the round was the Unitil Power Question, worth 40 points. It was asked by a special guest, Alec O'Meara, Media Relations Manager for Unitil. Nick Dahlen of Portsmouth knew that Powerball was the answer to this question: Drawings for this multistate game of chance are held at Universal Studios in Orlando at 10:59 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Portsmouth answered the next five questions correctly and Merrimack picked u the next question and the score was 270-160 going into the 40 for 40 question. This is the 40th season of Granite State Challenge. The 40 for 40 question is taken from a past season of Granite State Challenge in is worth 40 points.  Special guest, Tom Bergeron, the first host of Granite State Challenge,  asked a question based on the very first question asked on Granite State Challenge, Time Magazine recently named two people as its men of the year. Who were they? The answer was Ronald Reagan and Yuri Andropov. Here’s your question - Who was Time Magazine’s person of the year for 2021? Portsmouth's Francis Powell knew that the person of the year was Elon Musk and Portsmouth was out to a  310-160 lead. At the end of the round, Portsmouth led by a score of 390-180.

The third round of the game is the Three Strikes and You're Out Round. Each team picks a 10-question category and each team member, starting with the captain, gets one question. The team continues to answer questions until they miss three questions. Each team also has three passes in each round.  If a team answers all 10 questions correctly, they pick up an additional 10 points.  Merrimack chose the category Famous Vans. All of the answers were people with Van in their surname. The team picked up 80 points in the round, missing only on questions about Lisa Vanderpump and Charles Van Doren. Portsmouth chose the category Take Me To Your Leader. The answers to all of the questions were related to space aliens. The team picked up 80 points, missing on questions about the movies Independence Day and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At the end of the round, the score was Portsmouth 470 and Merrimack 260.

In the final round, correct answers are worth 20 points, but an incorrect answer will cost a team 20 points and leads can be quickly lost or gained.  Rainier Murray of Merrimack picked up the first points of the round with a question about Martin Van Buren. Unfortunately, Merrimack was not able to catch up to Portsmouth and the game ended with Portsmouth winning by a score of 590-340.

Granite State Challenge features New Hampshire's top high school academic quiz teams as they demonstrate remarkable teamwork, quick thinking, and smarts to beat the clock and buzz in first on this iconic New Hampshire game show. The game emphasizes quick recall of math, science, social studies, language arts, and fine arts facts - along with questions about current events, entertainment, sports, and New Hampshire.

You can follow your favorite team, test your own knowledge with GRANITE STATE CHALLENGE online quizzes, and more at the GRANITE STATE CHALLENGE web page or try your hands at daily brainteasers on the GRANITE STATE CHALLENGE Facebook page.

GRANITE STATE CHALLENGE is funded by lead sponsor Unitil; with additional funding from NEA New Hampshire, Safety Insurance, New Hampshire Lottery, D.F. Richard, Cognia, and HRCU.

About New Hampshire PBS: New Hampshire PBS inspires one million Granite Staters each month with engaging and trusted local and national programs and services on-air, online, via mobile, in classrooms and in communities. Beyond its award-winning television programs, New Hampshire PBS is a leader in education and community engagement. www.nhpbs.org

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