Three Yantis competitors advance to state UIL contest

BY FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

April 16, 2008 - Three Yantis High School students advanced to the University Interscholastic League's state academic meet in Austin after scoring high marks at the gegional UIL contest in Nacogdoches.

Yantis finished sixth in total points at regionals. Overall, 100 schools in Region III of Conference A competed, but only 32 scored points.

Cory Ward will be competing in biology and science at the May 2-3 state meet. Ward placed second in biology and third in science at regionals.

"I am extremely proud of Cory and all the time that he has spent studying science," said Michael Alphin, Yantis High School science teacher and also the school's golf coach. "Cory has worked extremely hard this year to advance to the state competition. With some more hard work the next three weeks, I feel that Cory has an excellent chance at the state competition."

Ward, a YHS junior, took top honors at the district meet in four contests -- science, chemistry, physics and math -- and placed in several other contests.

Amanda McKinney won the regional feature writing championship title, which entitles her to compete in the category at the state contest.

Joining McKinney in the feature writing competition at the May 2-3 state meet will be Shelby Allen. She advanced with a third place finish at Saturday's regional meet.

Yantis captured second place team honors in the journalism thanks to point contributions fromMcKinney, Allen and Holly Madden. Madden, who was hoping for a return appearance in Austin where she was the state headline champ in 2007, came in fourth in headline writing at regionals.

"I am extremely proud of the academic team this year," said Chip Mathews, the school's UIL coordinator. "We carried 22 students to compete at Nacogdoches, which is the most academic regional qualifiers in school history. I am especially grateful to my feature writers, Amanda and Shelby, who are taking me back to Austin for the 10th consecutive year. No one enjoys the state meet more than I do. It's an exciting challenge to prepare your students to face the best in the state."

Madden was one of two YHS students to narrowly miss making it to state. Ervin Sanchez also missed qualifying for the state UIL contest by finishing fourth overall in spelling and vocabulary. Only one point separated his score from the advancing student's rating.

Yantis' spelling/vocabulary team, which included Sanchez, was knocked out of advancement to state as a wild card team by three points. Wild card entries are given to teams who log the highest scores of all second-place groups in the state in their discipline. The wild card race was tight, with Whitehouse scoring 246, Martin's Mill 245 and Yantis 244.

Madden, Sanchez, Jordan Kenny and Teresa Garcia had taken top team honors in spelling/vocabulary at the district meet, with Madden earning first, Sanchez second, Kenney third and Garcia sixth for a whopping 41 points.

"The spelling team was magnificent as they raised their score by 24 points between district and regionals," Mathews said. "They did a great job."

Mathews himself reached a milestone this year, returning for the 10th consecutive year as a coach at the state UIL contest. Over the last decade, he has coached students to the state meet in five separate events -- poetry interpretation, news writing, feature writing, headline writing and spelling/vocabulary -- from which his students have brought home 14 state medals and three state championships.

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