Merrimack High Defeats Belmont High

Granite State Challenge - Round One

(DURHAM, February 9, 2024) - Belmont High fell to defending champ Merrimack High in the first game of the 42nd season of Granite State Challenge. 

Playing for Belmont High were Captain and senior Jonathan Holmes joined by seniors Leanna Rowley, Kayleigh Thompson, and Ryder Dutton. The team was coached by science teacher Kevin Charleston and math teacher Craig Wilkins. Belmont High enrolls around 400 students from Belmont and Canterbury.

Playing for Merrimack High were Captain and senior Kishan Sreenivasan joined by seniors Liam Clark and Trey Grant, and junior Erin Murray. Merrimack was coached by chemistry teacher Dr. Sara Campbell and Gifted and Talented Coordinator Sally Agel. Merrimack enrolls around 1,094 students.


Trey Grant opened the game by correctly identifying Madison, Wisconsin as one of four state capitals named for a president picking up 10 points for Merrimack. Kayleigh Thompson of Belmont answered the next question about Weirs Beach and the score was tied 10-10. Erin Murray picked up 10 points on the next question about Pride and Prejudice. Neither team could identify Newport, NH native Sarah Josepha Hale as the author of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but  Merrimack captain Kishan Sreenivasan knew that spinal tap could refer to a medical procedure or be the name of a band in a rock mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner. His teammate Liam Clark correctly answered a question about John Paul Jones bringing the score to 40-10. Merrimack answered the next eight questions correctly, but Jonathan Holmes of Belmont picked up 20 points for his team on the Unitil Power Question about power naps bringing the score to 120-30. Neither team could identify Dixville Notch as the location that has voted first in the New Hampshire presidential primary since 1960. Liam Clark of Merrimack correctly named U.S. President John Tyler as having been elected to the Confederate House of Representatives in 1861.  The next question, from Nick Capodice, co-host of the Civics 101 Podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio, was about the origin of the word gerrymander and was correctly answered by Trey Grant of Merrimack. Merrimack picked up thirty more points, and the round ended with Merrimack in the lead by 170-30.

In 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. Belmont answered four questions in their category correctly. Merrimack answered five questions correctly and the round ended with Merrimack holding a commanding lead of 220-70.


In the 60-Second Round alternates join their teams. Each team picks a ten-question category and has 60 seconds to answer the questions. If they answer all ten correctly, teams get a 10-point bonus. Team members can confer in the round, but the captain answers. Belmont chose the category "Salt of the Earth." All of the answers in the category included the word salt. They answered four questions correctly and picked up 40 points.  Merrimack chose the category "Rock and a Hard Place." All of the answers included the word rock. The team answered nine questions correctly, adding 90 points to their score. At the end of the round, Merrimack led by a score of 310-110.


In the final round of the game, each correct answer is worth 20 points, but teams lose 20 points with an incorrect answer. Merrimack picked up 60 points in the round and the game ended with a score of 370-110 and a win for Merrimack.

Merrimack now moves on to the quarterfinals where they will meet the winner of game two between The Academy for Science and Design and Manchester Central High airing Thursday, February 15 at 7:30 pm on NHPBS.

Granite State Challenge is hosted by Bow High School teacher and former Granite State Challenge coach (Bedford High), contestant (Belmont High), and Granite State Challenge crew member, Jon Cannon.

Granite State Challenge features some of New Hampshire's brightest high school students 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 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 InsuranceD.F. Richard Energy, 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.

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