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Academic Challenge

IRONTON — As postseason action heats up throughout the Tri-State in a variety of high school sports, another type of playoff kicked off yesterday — a playoff of the area’s best and brightest minds.

High Q, the long-time high school question and answer quiz show, began its “second life” with the inaugural taping of its 2009-2010 season at the studios of Ohio University Southern.

Hosted by veteran radio and television personality Ernie G. Anderson, High Q returns following a decade long hiatus after it had aired on WOWK for nearly 20 years.

But despite the lost time, the fierce competitiveness along with sharp knowledge and a quick buzzer thumb never went away. There were some nerves for sure, but Anderson was excellent in calming both competitors and supporters alike.

“While I was out in the hall, I signed 30 autographs. No one took them, but I signed 30 of them,” Anderson said between taping breaks to the laughter of those packed into the OUS studios on the third floor of the Riffe Center.

The premise of High Q is easy. Two teams of four students answer a cornucopia of questions ranging from history, literature, sports, science, and even pop culture. Each game is divided into four rounds and points range from five to 20 points per question.

Thirty-two teams from around the Tri-State are scheduled to appear on High-Q this season. On Saturday, teams from Ironton, Ironton St. Joe, Cabell Midland, Lincoln County, W.Va., Pikeville, Spring Valley and Ritchie County W.Va. took their places under the studio lights.

The bracket tournament format will have one team having to win five games in order to lift the trophy and earning the distinction of appearing in the semifinals of the National Academic Association Tournament to be held next spring in either New Orleans or Washington D.C. with the finals in Chicago.

The show tapes six shows per session that will span the season over 31 weeks. It is produced by the university’s Electronic Media department and will appear on its public access channel.

Shows start airing in early December.

On Saturday though, teams were just looking to get out of the first and second rounds.

One of those teams was Ironton St. Joe.

Moderated by Glenna McClain, the team of six squeaked a victory out in their first match against Cabell Midland before taking on Pikeville in the second round. Pikeville was impressive in taking down Lincoln County.

“We have a very nice team of six on the varsity team and six on the junior varsity team,” said McClain, whose team had lunch at the Shake Shoppe following their first win. “They are very dedicated and practice twice a week after school.”

Taking the top row in matching powder blue golf shirts with Pikeville in matching maroon shirts below them, both teams went back and forth answering and stealing Anderson’s questions including audio and visual queries.

“What is Switzerland’s most populous city?”

Zurich.

“What is Maine’s oldest institution for higher learning?”

Bowdoin College.

“What was the last musical to win the Best Picture Academy Award?

Oliver. (Despite many rumbles in the audience that best picture winner “Chicago” should be considered a musical.)

Each round saw the score swing back and forth. Two in a row for the Flyers, then three in a row by Pikeville as each team’s tally went up and up.

Five points here, ten points there. An incorrect answer followed by a steal.

It came down to the wire — the final round.

So who won this second round match to appear in the quarterfinals?

There is no answer for that. You will have to watch on week 17 of the 31-week season.

It is a nail biter.