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"It's just surreal:" DeSoto Academic Team qualifies for nationals in Atlanta

This is the first year the team has qualified for the competition.
DeSoto Academic Team
Posted at 11:06 PM, May 22, 2024

ARCADIA, Fla. — A group of students at DeSoto County High School will represent something bigger than themselves this weekend.

It's the first year the DeSoto Academic Team qualified for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) Championship in Atlanta.

"It's not unlike Jeopardy, except it is more geared towards academia you'd expect in high school, or even at the college level," said DeSoto Academic Coach Andrew Hagen.

High schools compete against each other to make it to the national stage. They must finish in the top 15 percent of regional tournaments to qualify for nationals. Now, the Academic Team at DeSoto High School earned its spot at the table.

"I'm really proud of myself, and everybody on the team because we all worked really hard to get here," said sophomore Kara Blosser.

Junior Wyatt Werner said he's also excited for the opportunity.

"Being in a small town, it's like a bigger stage than I've ever been used to," he said. "So, it's just surreal to be able to go there and really have my world expand because my world is so small by being in this small town with so few people."

Hagen said his team's accomplishments says a lot about the students.

"Some of those teams are private schools," Hagen said. "Schools that charge $50,000 a year to attend. So, the commitment of these students to be able to compete at that level and beat some of those schools is I think pretty remarkable."

Werner said he has confidence his team will show them how it's done.

"It'll be a good challenge, and we'll be ready to take them on," he said.

The team will compete Saturday and Sunday.