The written test was extremely close. After the written test our PUMAs were 34 points behind the reigning state champions of Needville and about the same amount ahead of the 3rd place team from Boerne. Since each program completed without error is worth 60 points, team PUMA would have to get one more program than the near competitors to win.
Needville and Boerne jumped out to a big lead early having five programs by the time Rockport had finished their third. But, then, the excellent team work and hours of team practice kicked in and Rockport came roaring back. While the other teams were starting to slow down, team PUMA had program after program ready to go in a beautiful assembly line. The team work payed of and the contest became tied.
With half an hour remaining on the clock, it became a two team race. Rockport with six programs and Needville with seven programs. Needville went for a really challenging advanced program and nailed it, but that took the remainder of their time! Rockport, instead, continued their team work approach of divide and conquer and went after two programs at once. Rockport turned in a very challenging program, but it errored out on the judges data! Worse the error was outside of their control to fix! Instead of getting down on themselves, PUMA rallied and quickly submitted another program. Then just as they were submitting what would be the tying program, time expired - imagine a March Madness buzzer beater, that goes in, but time had expired just just before the ball leaves the player's hand.
The drama was far from over though! Two of team PUMA's contestants had placed in individually in the written: Jesse Sprinkle was in 4th place and Jordan Bogaards was in 5th. That left them one and two places out of individually qualifying for state respectively. Then, as the results are being verified a question of accuracy in the answer key. There was confusion over whether the key was correct or the answer put down by Jordan and Jesse was correct. In an amazing show of sportsmanship, the 3rd place Needville competitor confirmed that his answer was incorrect and that Jesse and Jordan's answers should be correct. He said this knowing that it would give an 8 point boost to his competitors and cost him 8 points. The UIL headquarters were called and the change was made. Amazingly, Jesse and the young man from Needville did not flip places, instead they became a tie - and tied the tie breaker. A true tie, so both young men win 3rd and both qualify for state!
Next, the program that errored from team PUMA was challenged by the team. The team believed that the error must be with the judge's data and not with their program. Remarkably, they were correct! Again, headquarters in Austin was called and the fix was made. Since the error was not found earlier, Rockport was probably the first school in the state to succeed in that challenging problem.
When the dust had finally settled, Rockport had 8 programs and so did Needville. Therefore, Needville won first place by the slimmest of margins: 1069 to 1035. Our only hope for the team to go to state was to be the highest scoring second place team. By 10:00 AM on Sunday, it was confirmed. Rockport had the wildcard! In fact, 1035 was the third highest score overall.
Next up: State competition in Austin on April 21st! RFHS team PUMA hopes to bring the state championship home to Rockport!