#1 in the Nation! HGHS 2023 Academic Challenge Team

Congratulations to Owen Sibinga, Anna Olteanu, Rena Hollister, Victor Zhou, and coach Nicole Diamente! In a thrilling overtime victory over Eastchester, they are your 2023 National Academic Challenge Champions! Greeley teams have also won in 2003 and 2013, but please don’t make us wait another 10 years.

Academic Challenge Team

Road to the Finals

The championship contest, for the first time ever, featured two teams from the same county – Westchester – and for the second consecutive year, a first-timer played in the finals, in this case Eastchester. In fact, five of the eight quarterfinalists and three of the four semifinalists were Westchester teams.

Eastchester entered the playoffs ranked No. 4 and then defeated Sparkman (AL) 410-215, Clinton (SC) 420-230, John Cooper (TX) 385-235, and New Orleans Jesuit 380-340. Meanwhile, Greeley beat Little Rock Central (AR) 480-285, Scarsdale (NY) 425-265, and Hastings, 380-315.

The Championship

The teams went back and forth in Round 1 (toss up questions worth 5 and 10 points) and Round 2 (toss up questions and a 4-part bonus series) impressing the moderator with their knowledge answering questions from a variety of categories including Stravinski and Physiology. Eastchester swept their Trigonometry bonus and when the dust settled, they led 155-145 at halftime.

In the “Seventy Seconds Round” Greeley advanced 70-0 in their category, Figures of Speech. However, Eastchester advanced 90-10 on their choice of Compounds and increased their lead to 245-225 after three rounds.

In the final “Stump the Experts” round, Eastchester recognized “Habanera” from Bizet’s opera Carmen, and the two teams then answered these Matching questions correctly:

Greeley: Match the following art museums – The Cloisters, Uffizi, Prado, Rijksmuseum, Hermitage – with their respective cities – St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Florence, Madrid, and New York. [Cloisters / New York; Uffizi / Florence; Prado / Madrid; Rijksmuseum / Amsterdam; Hermitage / St. Petersburg]

Eastchester: Match these medicines: calamine, digitalis, insulin, quinine, albuterol, with and these maladies: diabetes, heart disorder, bronchospasm, malaria, skin inflammation. [Calamine / skin inflammation; digitalis / heart disorder; insulin / diabetes; quinine / malaria; albuterol / bronchospasm]

Greeley then tied it up after stealing Eastchester’s Naval History question and then answered their question correctly.

Eastchester: In 1995, the Electric Boat Company unveiled a new submarine designed to locate and destroy enemy ballistic missile submarines. Name this class of subs. [Seawolf]

Greeley: In the 18th century, what kind of gangs consisted of sailors licensed by the government to capture men and force them to serve in the British navy? [Press gangs]

Both teams also displayed their knowledge of Poetry.

Greeley: Give either the name of the poet or the title of the poem in which we read in the sixth and final canto: “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, / Who never to himself hath said: / “This is my own, my native land!” [Sir Walter Scott, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”]

Eastchester: While crossing the Mississippi at age 17, Langston Hughes wrote what poem that names the Euphrates, Congo, and Nile? [“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”]

Eastchester retook the lead on a question about Hinduism - Which god wears a crescent moon and the Ganges River as ornaments in his hair and a wreath of skulls and a snake around his neck? [Shiva] 

Then, after a Triangle problem, Eastchester was now 40 points ahead before Greeley stole this Politics question:

House Republicans voted to take Representative Ilhan Omar from which committee, criticizing her past remarks about Israel? [Foreign Affairs]

The final couplet featured Art questions and nobody got Greeley’s right:

Greeley/Visual: The artist who painted this woman’s portrait was the leading neoclassical painter of the early 1800s. His insistence on detail is evident in this portrait. Can you name him? [Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres]

Eastchester couldn’t answer their final question to seal a victory – He’s not Winslow Homer, but he is best known for his portrayals of the Maine seacoast. Here’s a good example, titled “Maine Islands”. Name the artist. – but Greeley knew it was John Marin, stealing another 20 points.

And with that steal, Greeley and Eastchester were tied 345-345 at the end of regulation. For the first time in 41 years the Varsity finals went into overtime.  


Horace Greeley got the first overtime question right:

According to John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” what do the poppies blow between? [Crosses]

Eastchester’s question: He had great affection for his Long Island birthplace. He published the “Centennial” collection of his poems in 1876. The 1861 firing on Fort Sumter inspired him to write the poem, “Beat! Beat! Drums!” Name the poet.

Walt Whitman was the answer, but no points were scored. Horace Greeley High School won 350-345, becoming only the second school in tournament history to win the title three times (2003, 2013, 2023). In addition, Greeley was the only one of the four champions (Elementary, Middle School, JV, Varsity) to go undefeated at 10-0, also ranking first in points-per-game.


Horace Greeley showed the hallmarks of most of the great teams in NAC history: a great captain with a significant contribution from teammates. Captain Owen Sibinga showed all the qualities of a great captain – listening to all suggestions of his teammates and relaying (in almost all cases) the correct answer to the moderator in a timely fashion. He earned this year’s MVP award.