Merrimack Defeats Trinity

Granite State Challenge - Semifinals

(DURHAM, May 8, 2024) - Merrimack High defeated Trinity High in the first Granite State Challenge semifinal game.

Playing for Merrimack High were captain and senior Kishan Sreenivasan joined by seniors Liam Clark and Trey Grant, and junior Erin Murray. The team alternates were junior Shelby Pennington and sophomore Avis Clever. Merrimack was coached by chemistry teacher Dr. Sara Campbell and Gifted and Talented Coordinator Sally Agel. Merrimack enrolls around 1,094 students. Merrimack High defeated Belmont High and the Academy for Science and Design on their way to the semifinals. Merrimack High School is the defending Granite State Challenge Champion and was also the championship team in 2020 and 2021. They are hoping to win their fourth championship.

Playing for Trinity High was the team captain and senior Hayden Becker, along with senior Matt Salafia, and juniors Desmond Lee and Tyler Welch. The team alternates were senior Rob Mokua and sophomore Long Nguyen. The coaches were social studies teacher Andrew Lavoie and math teacher Louis Sievers. Trinity High is a parochial school located in Manchester and enrolls around 300 students from Manchester, Bedford, Goffstown, Hooksett, and surrounding towns. Trinity High defeated Dover High and Souhegan High on their way to the semifinals. 


Kishan Sreenivasan of Merrimack opened the round with a question about hockey.  Kishan went on to score 50 more points for Merrimack on questions about razors, Jane Austen, APR financing, and sonnets. His teammate Trey Grant collected 40 points for the team on questions about Jessica's Law, what vexillophiles collect (flags), Bourbon Street, and a civics question from 2024 NH Kid Governor, Ellie Livley, about the number of representatives in the NH State House (400). Liam Clark added 20 points to Merrimack's total on questions about tea and Amtrak, and Erin Murray picked up another 20 points on questions about Maid Marian and Atlantis, giving Merrimack 140 points at the end of the round.

Matt Salafia poured in 60 points for Trinity on questions about amphibians, George Lucas, Cordon Blue, anacondas, Sarajevo, and Neptune. Hayden Becker added another 10 points on a question about Pinkeye and he also picked up 20 points in the Unititl Power question about the Power Rangers. Tyler Welch added 10 points to Trinty's total on a question about obelisks. At the end of the round, Trinity had 100 points.

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. 

Liam Clark, Trey Grant, and Erin Murray each picked up 20 points in the round for Merrimack and Kishan Sreenivasan added another 10 points giving Merrimack 210 points.

Trinity struggled in their round and was unable to answer any of their questions, and the round ended with Merrimack in the lead by a score of 210-100.

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.

Trinity chose the category "We Welcome Our Robot Overlords."  All of the answers in the category were related to robots, computers, or androids.  This was a great category for the team. They answered nine questions correctly, missing only a question about the robot Marvin from Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy. Trinity ended their round with a score of 190.

Merrimack picked the category "Leading Ladies."  All of the answers in the round were women leaders. The team answered eight questions correctly, missing only on questions about Benazir Bhutto and Jacinda Arden.  The round ended with Merrimack in the lead by a score of 290-190.

In the game's final round, each correct answer is worth 20 points, but teams lose 20 points with an incorrect answer, and a lead can be easily lost or gained in the round.

Trinity came on strong in the final round. Hayden Becker correctly answered questions about Rasputin, the tibia, and the Great Barrier Reef. He also answered a math question that Merrimack answered incorrectly. His teammate Desmond Lee picked up 40 points on questions about Ron Desantis and the Moulin Rouge and Matt Salafia added another 20 points on a question about molasses.

Merrimack lost 20 points on the math question. Kishan Sreenivasan added 20 points on a question about Copernicus, Trey Grant added another 20 points to the score on a question about the hat trick, and Liam Clark correctly identified a sloth and suddenly the score was tied 330-330 with under two minutes left in the game.

Matt Salafia put Trinity in the lead on a question about Oliver Twist. Kishan Sreenivasan of Merrimack tied the score on a question about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dover, NH. He then took Merrimack back into the lead on a question about succotash.  With just a minute left in the game, Liam Clark extended Merrimack's lead on a question about Pravda. Trinity's Hayden Becker narrowed the score to 390-370 on a question about samurai. With just 30 seconds left in the game, Matt Salafia knew that it takes two to tango and tied the score 390-390. He then took his team out to a lead on a question about the Badlands.  Only 20 seconds were left on the game clock. Kishan Sreenivasan of Merrimack tied the score at 410-410 on a question about Toni Morrison, leaving just eight seconds on the clock. The next question was about the captain of the HMS Bounty, Captain William Bligh. Trinity took a chance on the question but answered Captain Cook, losing 20 points and giving Merrimack the win by a score of  410-390 in one of the toughest losses on this season of Granite State Challenge.

Merrimack High now moves on to face the winner on the last semifinal game between Plymouth Regional High and Hopkinton High airing on Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 pm on NHPBS. The championship game will air on Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 pm on NHPBS.

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.

Phone (603) 868-1100  •  Fax (603) 868-7552


Station Management

Peter A. Frid
President & CEO

Dawn DeAngelis
Vice President & Chief Content Officer

Pressroom Contact

Carla Gordon Russell
Director of Communications
(603) 868-4339