JAMESTOWN — Forget the third time.
The first time was definitely the charm for some Yellow Springs seventh graders. Led by a fifth-place finish from Sylvia Korson, the group of writers from McKinney Middle School — in its maiden voyage in a real tournament — won first place in the southwest regional PenOhio championships at Greeneview Middle School April 21.
That win over second place Monroe and third place Greeneview, coupled with an equally impressive third-place finish from the eighth grade team, allowed McKinney to win the grand championship.
“It was just amazing,” McKinney Coach Jaime Adoff said. “Especially my seventh graders. This is their first real official competitive tournament and for them to win first place is just amazing. For my eighth graders it’s just tremendous. They work so hard.”
Korson had a huge smile on her face afterward and at press time, she was still smiling.
“I didn’t think that I would place at all,” Korson said. “Normal self doubt. There are definitely much better writers on the team than me. I was hoping our team would place but I wasn’t really sure. I definitely didn’t think that I would place since this is like huge and amazing and it’s like kind of the first official tournament I’ve been to. It’s just really amazing.
Writers participated in three 40-minute sessions, where they respond to a prompt like “Global warming is … ”
The McKinney teams practiced nearly three hours a week.
“We work really hard, so I’m happy that it all paid off,” said eighth grader Maggie Knopp, who finished fifth. “I am really happy. I was definitely proud of my work. I think that’s what helps me when I write it, to make sure I’m proud of it.”
Greeneview Coach Carolyn Jones was equally as proud of her seventh-grade team, which like McKinney, was in its first real tournament atmosphere.
“Seventh grade is the first year for any writing program,” she said. “They are just ecstatic.”
Jones was pleased to see all the hard work mean something.
“I was open to anything and when they finally went … for their recognition it finally hit me that this hard work that they put into their story writing all year has finally paid off,” she said. “Super excited.”
The top six writers were given awards. According to the tournament officials, around 50 percent of all who entered will advance to the state tournament, May 24-25 at The College of Wooster.
Bellbrook’s Zachary Van Pelt was second in the seventh-grade division with 588 total points, 300 for rank points and 288 for quality points. Korson had 583 points, while Knopp had 578.
In all, more than 30 teams from schools all around southwest Ohio participated in the event. Greeneview officials were more than pleased with how the event played out, considering it was the district’s first time hosting middle school writers.
“All day long all we heard was positive comments from parents, students, judges, visitors and everyone in attendance,” GMS Principal Denny Morrison said. “Our student writers made thee students from the other 17 schools in attendance feel right at home.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.