For the first time in school history, Brainerd High School is sending its Economics Challenge team to New York City to compete for the National Economics Challenge title May 21-23.
The Brainerd team qualified for nationals Sunday in the Adam Smith Division for students enrolled in advanced placement after beating students from eight states in the Heartland Region Economics Challenge in Minneapolis.
On the Brainerd Economic Challenge team are seniors Jacob Folkeringa and Andrew Mehr, and juniors Jennifer Dens and Jason Houle. They are coached by economics teacher Dave Stark.
In the regional meet, the Brainerd team was in third place behind Oklahoma and Alabama after the first round and then tied for second place with Alabama in the second round. The third round determined which two teams would advance to the final round.
In the third round, Oklahoma stayed on top and finished with 955 points. Brainerd and Alabama tied in the third round, but Brainerd was ahead in points. Brainerd finished with 770 points and Alabama finished with 710.
Stark, who did not know the points at the time during the competition, said the team had to wait for 90 minutes before the judges announced the top two teams. Stark said this part of the competition was the most intense.
"Oklahoma was a for sure," said Stark. "But I wasn't sure if it would be us in the top two.
"As a teacher we have no influence (on the competition). We can just sit and watch, which makes it more intense. I just hoped that we studied what we should have."
In the final round, Brainerd and Oklahoma squared off on a 30-question test. Brainerd defeated Oklahoma for the opportunity to compete for the national title in New York City.
Stark said he and the team were excited to win the regional competition and advance to nationals. The students said they plan to study for nationals after they take their AP tests.
All four Brainerd students are in Stark's Advanced Placement economics class, plus they all take additional AP classes.
The students also participated in Knowledge Bowl this year.
Dens, who said economics is not her favorite class, said she didn't think the team would win state or the regional contests because she thought Brainerd was one of the weaker teams.
Houle said he was surprised to beat Moorhead in the state competition because Moorhead won the national competition last year and it beat Brainerd in the district competition.
Folkeringa said his mind was on other activities in the district and state Economic Challenge contests. He said he did not get serious until regionals.
"At the end of the buzzer round (at regionals) I was shocked," said Folkeringa. "I couldn't believe it that we got first."
Mehr said, "I expected to be knocked out by Moorhead in the district contest. We got second and went on to state (with Moorhead)."
Economics Challenge, a program that consists of a series of tests of economic understanding and reasoning ability, is a program of the Minnesota Council on Economic Education and its parent organization, the National Council on Economic Education.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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