Competitive Wildcard Bout Sends Avon Lake to Quarterfinals On Scholastic Games Quiz Show

Michael Durdak, right, of Firelands High School, is congratulated by program producer Jim Mehrling for winning “Standout Scholar” honors.

Michael Durdak, right, of Firelands High School, is congratulated by program producer Jim Mehrling for winning “Standout Scholar” honors.

The final score was Avon Lake 440, Firelands 320, on the Scholastic Games program, heard on WEOL (AM 930), in its weekly pairing of Lorain County high school academic teams. It was the annual wildcard program on Monday, April 10th, which offers a second chance at playoff eliminations for the highest-scoring losing teams. Both teams lost with final scores higher than many of this year’s winning scores.

Avon Lake’s team consisted of Alex Petroff, Irwin Deng, and team captain Connor McNeill, and their opponents were Michael Durdak, Sam Formholtz, and team captain Ryan Martin, the team from Firelands in Oberlin. Illustrating the strength of the opposition, Durdak was the winner of the program’s “Standout Scholar Award,” in spite of his school ending up in the runner-up position. That award provides a $50 prize each week to the student judged to have contributed the most to his or her team.

Firelands took a 40 to 30 lead after the first round, but Avon Lake advanced to an 80 to 50 advantage following a strong Current Events Round. Starting in the third round, buzzing in makes quick answers important, and while Firelands increased its score, Avon Lake doubled its score in that round. The fourth round is a multi-clue affair in which a correct answer to the first clue yields fifty points and a final clue provides only ten, with intermediate scoring possibilities in between. Durdak made the biggest score with 50 points on the first clue about the War of 1812. He also scored 20 points after an incorrect early response from the other team to clues about Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. Avon Lake kept its lead, however, with two 30-point answers scored by McNeill (identifying mirrors and King Henry VIII) and 40 points when Petroff’ named Eli Whitney from the second clue, concerning introduction of mass production.

Both teams did very well in a briskly-moving final round, scoring identical additions of 180 points. Unfortunately for Firelands it meant a win for Avon Lake and advancement to a quarter final contest in two weeks. The school becomes the last of this year’s quarterfinalists. Amherst Steele has already defeated Midview to become the first team at the semifinal level. The balance of the teams are in the schedule below.


MONDAYS, 6:06 p.m. (except when sports games delay the quiz to Tuesday, same time)

4/17 Second Quarterfinal – Avon vs. Keystone

4/24 Third Quarterfinal – Olmsted Falls vs. Avon Lake

5/1 Fourth Quarterfinal – Vermilion vs. Lake Ridge Academy

5/8 First Semifinal – Amherst Steele vs. team to be determined

5/15-22 Remaining Semifinals and Championship

A total of sixteen of Lorain County’s public and private high schools have competed this year, and the season will end with the broadcast’s 27th annual county championship in May. The program, sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County with foundation support, will continue to be heard most Monday evenings (6:05 to 7 p.m.) with two schools in competition each week. The schedule of broadcasts is below.

The teams are guided by faculty advisors. Mr. Mike Kaminski and Mr. Ryan Smylie serve as co-advisors to the Avon Lake team and Kelly Miller advises the Firelands team. Continuing a 26-year tradition, each participating school will receive a $1000 tuition credit to be given next year to a deserving student that will attend an area college or university. Many additional credits are awarded to schools as they compete and win in playoffs. Contributing institutions include Lorain County Community, Ashland University, Case Western Reserve, Heidelberg, John Carroll, Notre Dame College of Ohio, Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio Wesleyan, Oberlin College, Ursuline College, and Tiffin University, many of which have participated in this program for a number of years.

CWF LogoScholastic Games, on WEOL radio since 1990, is presented on the station by the Elyria Public Library System. Production of the program is made possible by funding from Nordson Corporation, the Nord Family Foundation, the Community West Foundation, and the following funds administered by the Community Foundation of Lorain County: the William J. and Flora Hearn Durling Fund, the Dorothy and Elizabeth King Memorial Charitable Fund, and the Miraldi and Barrett Fund. The Elyria Public Library System and the Elyria Days Inn provide recording venues, and following broadcast, and offer the programs as “podcasts.” A member of the Broadcasters Hall of Fame of Akron and Cleveland, the program’s producer, Jim Mehrling, is a veteran northeast Ohio broadcaster. After seven years as Chief Announcer at WEOL, he was Production Manager at Cleveland’s WERE-AM for over a decade, and has for over twenty years been with Cleveland’s WCLV-FM, now a part of Ideastream public broadcasting. Again this year, most Scholastic Games programs will be followed by a talk feature, “Dialogues in Education,” which presents education success stories with its host, award-winning journalist Bob Tayek.



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