Pioneer matches wits with Ludlow High School

  • Pioneer physics and chemistry teacher Carol Sacco is the adviser for the students competing in “As Schools Match Wits.” STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pioneer’s team for “As Schools Match Wits”: Ella Potee, Alex Taylor, Jason Daye, Nate Mousseau. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pioneer’s team had three practice sessions before the match. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The contestants from Ludlow High School wore matching outfits, and claimed to have been practicing since September. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/11/2019 11:29:29 PM

NORTHFIELD — Students from Pioneer Valley Regional School will appear on the academic quiz show “As Schools Match Wits” this weekend, competing against Ludlow High School.

The episode is already filmed, but team members couldn’t say who won. They admitted though that Ludlow’s team was formidable.

Pioneer has competed on the show for as long as anyone can remember, said Carol Sacco, the team’s faculty adviser. The team this year is seniors Nate Mousseau and Alex Taylor, junior Ella Potee and sophomore Jason Daye.

On the day of the match, the Ludlow team showed up at the Westfield State University TV studio in coordinated maroon sweaters, the boys wearing ties. They had an alternate on-hand, just in case. The Ludlow coach shook hands with each Pioneer contestant. 

“Then there was us,” Potee said. “Jason (Daye) was wearing sweatpants.”

“They only film from the waist up,” Taylor said.

The episode airs on WGBY on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. 

Pioneer often does well in its qualifying match, Sacco said, but is typically shut out of the playoffs by larger schools.

“Other schools I know do pretty rigorous training,” Mousseau said. “They start in the beginning of the year, they know their team, they do weekly practices. We did maybe three after-schools.”

“We know one of the guys on the Ludlow team, and he was like, ‘We’ve been practicing since September,’” Potee said.

Potee was on the team last year, when Pioneer was defeated in the qualifying round by the thoroughly prepared Amherst High School.

“They had this British kid who seemed to know everything,” Potee said. As it happened, a question came up that involved knowledge of specific British monarchs. Pioneer couldn’t recover.

Questions always come in the same categories: literature; arts and entertainment; math and science; world events; general knowledge. But the questions themselves are always different, making preparation difficult.

“Last year there was a whole section on superheroes,” Potee said. “I knew every answer.”

“And then there are questions on Morocco,” Mousseau said.

So assembling a well-rounded team is key to a good strategy.

“We definitely got lucky (with this year’s roster),” Potee said. “Alex (Taylor) has geography and world events down. Nate (Mousseau) and Jason (Daye) do really well in science and math, and Nate does really well in sports. And I’m the oddball.”

After the qualifying rounds, the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs.

Contact Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ex 261.




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