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Oklahoma academic team flexes scholastic muscles at national competition

Oklahoma academic team places third in national contest, brings home scholarships and rings.
By Paighten Harkins, Staff Writer Published: July 7, 2014
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A group of Oklahoma teenagers recently returned from Florida with scholarships and bragging rights after placing third against nine other teams in a competition that’s more about brains than brawn.

The five team members were part of Team Oklahoma, which brings together some of the brightest high school students from across the state to compete against teams from other states in the National Tournament of Academic Excellence in Orlando.

Oklahoma had a team compete in the conference from 1988 to 2009. The Florida Board of Education cut funding for the competition from 2010 to 2013 but brought it back this year, and Team Oklahoma returned, said Gail Bliss, director of services for the Oklahoma Association for Academic Competition Inc.

This year’s team included Steven Kappen and Yifan Song, who were seniors at Edmond Santa Fe; Bengamin Zhao, a junior at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics/Edmond Santa Fe; Hunter Antonisse, junior at Choctaw High School; and Finn Bender, a junior at Edmond Memorial.

During the competition, the students were pitted against teams with up to six players and answered questions about math, science, language arts, social studies, the fine arts, languages and technology, according to a press release.

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National Tournament of Academic Excellence

2014 competition results

First place: Florida

Second place: Pennsylvania

Third place: Oklahoma

Fourth place: Colorado

Fifth place: Louisiana and Ohio

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