Merrimack High School takes the Granite State Challenge Championship 2020

Years of hard work and persistence paid off for the Merrimack Tomahawks on Saturday night as they won the Granite State Challenge Super Challenge over 2019 defending champs Plymouth, by a score of 610-540.

This is the first time Merrimack has won the Super Challenge, having appeared in the finals twice before. This was the third year in a row the team has made it to at least the semi-finals, losing the last two years to the eventually champions. Plymouth was in its third straight finals appearance, winning last year, and losing two years ago.

Playing for the Merrimack High Tomahawks were Captain Scott Peyton, Alex Jobin, Troy Church, and Nick Gacharna joined by alternates, Andrew Peyton and Aidan Remick. The team was coached by Sara Campbell and Linda Mandra. Merrimack High enrolls around 1,174 students. Merrimack High defeated Newfound Regional High, the Academy for Science and Design, and Souhegan High School on their way to the championship game.

The two teams went head to head in the first round but at the end of the round Plymouth led by a score of 150-120. Merrimack found their footing and ended the second round leading by a score of 320-230. The alternates joined their teammates for the 60 Second round. Plymouth chose the category “Pen Names” and correctly identified nine out of ten pen names or real names of authors, missing only on Lewis Carroll. Merrimack chose the category “Into the Woods” and correctly answered nine out of ten questions whose answer included the word wood, missing only on a question about the director Ed Wood. At the end of the round, Merrimack had a lead of 410-320.

In the final round of the game, correct answers are worth 20 points, but an incorrect answer will cost a team 20 points. The teams both played an aggressive final round and with just under 30 seconds left in the game Merrimack held a slim lead of 550-540. Merrimack ended the game correctly answering three questions in a row about the census, the musical “Little Shop of horrors” and Ronald Reagan and won the game by a score of 610-540.

Since a traditional pep rally to celebrate the team’s win will not be possible this year, the school will host a “rolling rally” on Wednesday night, starting at 6pm. Escorted by the Merrimack police department, team members will form into a parade to take a victory lap through town. The procession will leave Merrimack High School and proceed through the team member’s neighborhoods, giving family and friends a chance to cheer on their victors. The parade will finish at Hayward’s, which has generously donated ice cream for the team members.

Granite State Challenge is a production of New Hampshire PBS. It is generously supported by Unitil.