'As Schools Match Wits:' Williamstown vs. Amherst, high school edition
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williamstown-Amherst rivalry will heat up on Saturday, but this competition won't be on the athletic field -- and the students are still in high school.
Mount Greylock Regional High School will take on Amherst Regional High School on WGBY's "As Schools Match Wits."
Now in its 53rd year, the televised high school quiz show lets teams of four compete in a battle of the brains for the grand prize, known as the Collamore Cup, so named in honor of the show's creator, Leonard Collamore, a graduate of the then-Westfield State College. The show, hosted by Beth Ward, is still produced and recorded at Westfield State.
The Mount Greylock team's coach, English teacher and soccer coach Blair Dils, said Saturday's broadcast was previously recorded, and the team's been sworn to secrecy about the outcome, but he said it's a good chance for viewers to see a riveting competition of a non-athletic kind.
"We have some really talented, incredibly intelligent kids here at Mount Greylock. This gives some of them a chance to go down there, use what they know, and shine," Dils said.
This year's Mount Greylock team includes sophomore Noah Savage, senior Caleb Raymond, and twin freshmen Aaron and Matthew Kleiner.
Dils said the Kleiners' older brother, Ned, was "a juggernaut" of a player who helped Greylock's quiz teams take the Collamore Cup in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Amherst claimed last year's championship title.
Saturday's match will stir up a long-standing fierce competitive spirit between Amherst and Williamstown-based teams. "It's all part of the top-down rivalry that's transpired from the college into the local youth leagues," Dils said.
He said the team's efforts combined individuals' knowledge with a "relaxed attitude" and a bit of strategic planning during the car rides to Westfield. "But mostly we just go down there to have fun with the show," Dils said.
Next year, the Kleiners will be heading to Italy with their family, according to the coach, so he'll be looking for some new recruits.
Tony Dunne, the producer of the competition, said each year approximately 50 teams of students representing public and private schools from around Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut vie for the Collamore Cup.
"It's a unique venue for academic excellence," Dunne said of the show and its history. "We don't celebrate academics in the same way as athletics. I think this is a way to redress that."
This year, participating Berkshire County teams included: Mount Greylock, Taconic and Pittsfield high schools, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, St. Joseph Central High School, Lee Middle and High School, and Wahconah Regional High School.
Teams compete in a single qualifying match, then the eight highest scoring teams advance to the playoffs for a single elimination tournament.
Both Lenox and Mount Greylock teams participated in this year's quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
The Lenox team, coached by math teacher Matthew Gottfried, included all seniors: Theodore Nappo, Jacob Edelman, Delaney Moran and William Palmer.
Lenox competed against Sabis International Charter School of Springfield in the quarterfinals and Amherst in the semifinals. Mount Greylock took on Connecticut's Rockville High School in the quarterfinals and Northampton High School in the semifinals.
To learn more about "As School Schools Match Wits" and to watch this season's episodes, visit: wgby.org/asmw.
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