For the first time in more than 25 years, members of the Grove High School Academic Team will represent the district at the state-wide level.

The team, comprised of Travis Linn, captain, and Joseph Havelka, Emily Rice, Lily Pitts, Dani Stine, Ashton Hart, Jade Goins and Zianne Mann, are coached by GHS instructor Mike Sadler.

This is the first time Sadler will take a team to state since he became its coach in 2000.

The team qualified for state in the 4A division after placing first in the regional competition in Beggs, and second in the area competition in Stigler.

The team will leave - complete with a Ridgerunner send-off - at approximately 11:45 a.m., on Friday, Feb. 2, from the student entrance at the high school. 

Members of the student body, including the Pride of Grove Ridgerunner Marching Band, and the GHS Cheerleaders, are slated to help send the team off in style.

"To represent Grove at the state [level] is one of the greatest things, and a goal for any organization," Linn said. "To get to represent Grove High School at state is one of the coolest honors we've had as a team."

More about the team

Members of the academic bowl compete in the OSSAA sanctioned events throughout the school year. The top two teams at regionals advance to area, where the top two teams advance to the state competition.

The each round consists of two 60-second lightning rounds, which contain questions on a specific theme, and one six-minute toss up round.

Linn said it takes lots of memory skills for each member, on a variety of subjects. Each team member has a specialty, ranging from history, government, and math, to art, literature or the humanities. 

"These are the hardest working students I've ever had," Sadler said. "It's also a young team. With primarily sophomores and juniors. They have grown as a team throughout the competition season."

Linn, the team's only senior, is also the team's only returning member, after the other members graduated in May 2017.

He and Sadler recruited students to take part in the all volunteer team at the beginning of the year.

Team members have practiced most days during the daily 45 minute Ridgerunner Time Improvement session. They have also invested in multiple practices away from school.

"They've done this on their own initiative," Sadler said. "They've made time out of their own schedules to make this work. 

"We've come a long way since we played Kansas at the beginning of the year. It was kind of ugly. It showed us what we needed to overcome."

Sadler said in the past few years, the team has done well at regionals. Area competitions, which often include private schools, such as Cascia Hall Preparatory School or Holland Hall, both in Tulsa, in the 4A or the larger Bishop Kelly High School, also in Tulsa, in the 5A have been a challenge. 

Sadler said many of the private schools devote a class during the school day for the academic team, building practice and research time, into each student's academic schedule.

The team enters the eight-team competition, set for Friday and Saturday at Redlands Community College in El Reno, in eighth place.

Sadler said the team rankings come from the points accumulated by the team throughout the entire contest season, with scores from the beginning of the season, during the formation of the team, weighing equally with the outcomes at regional and area.

Other teams within the competition include Heritage Hall, Stigler, Pauls Valley and Inola.

"I'm super excited that we are going to state," Emily Rice said. "All of us have worked really hard. No matter what happens, we are going to go, and do our best."

Did You Know?

Class 4A teams competing against Grove at the state competition include:

1 - Heritage Hall, Oklahoma City

2 - Cascia Hall Prep School, Tulsa

3 - Bridgecreek High School, Blanchard

4 - Plainview High School, Ardmore

5 - Stilger High School, Stigler

6 - Pauls Valley High School, Pauls Valley

7 - Inola High School, Inola

8 - Grove High School, Grove

The competition will be live streamed at

Meet the Team

The 2017-18 Grove High School Academic Team includes:

Travis Linn, captain, - senior, son of Mark and Tammy Linn.

Dani Stine - sophomore, daughter of Randy and Tracy Stine.

Zianne Mann - junior, daughter of William Mann,

Lilly Pitts - sophomore, daughter of Brian and Lisa Pitts.

Joseph Havelka - junior, son of Paul and Amanda Havelka.

Emily Rice - sophomore, daughter of Kelly and David Rice.

Ashton Hart - junior, daughter of Eldon and Jodi Hart.

Jade Goins - junior, daughter of Billy and Tracy Goins.