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News Release 5/15/18 SF2 Elyria-Firelands


CONTACT: Jim Mehrling (


The second semifinal competition of  the Scholastic Games radio quiz, one of the most competitive matchups of the year, ended in victory for Firelands High School.  Its team will face Olmsted Falls high on next Tuesday’s broadcast for the program’s twenty-eighth annual Lorain County academic championship.   The show is a weekly feature of WEOL radio (AM 930) which has aired every school year since 1990.

It was far from a “done deal” as the five rounds of questions and answers progressed, but at the final bell it was Firelands 310, Elyria 290.  One question could have made the difference!  Firelands was represented by Michael Durdak, team captain Ryan Martin,


Formholtz, right, is congratulated by program host Jim Mehrling

and Sam Formholtz, who was singled out for the program’s “Standout Scholar Award,” a $50 prize given to the student judged to have contributed the most to his or her team each week.  It was the second such award for Formholtz this year and both of his teammates are former honorees.  Elyria’s team consisted of  team captain Erica Uszak, Garrett Worden and John Schuman.   Uszak and Schuman are also former “Standout” winners.

Both teams got off to a slow start, particularly Elyria, scoring only once in the first round.  Both teams could answer only two of the five questions in a challenging Current Events round, ending with a 50 to 30 lead for Firelands.  The third round is the first in which teams “buzz in,” an advantage to the quicker team, and Firelands doubled its score, giving the team its biggest lead of the competition, 100 to 50, at the round’s conclusion.

In the fourth round, several clues may be given for each answer. The first clue can yield a score of fifty points, the second forty and so forth, with the fifth and final clue yielding only ten.  Texas was the first answer and both teams responded to the 30-point clue, “An annexation treaty made this republic a state.”  Schuman was quickest with the buzzer, scoring the 30 points for Elyria.  The Peace of Utrecht stumped both teams, but then Uszak scored another 30 for Elyria, remembering that President Kennedy authored the book Profiles in Courage.   Schuman bounced back with the biggest score of the round, responding with Napoleon to a 50-point audio clue, when the music of “Wellington’s Victory” was described as music that “commemorated a battle he lost.”  Firelands scored only once in the round when Durdak added 20 points by identifying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Elyria entered the final round with its biggest lead of the day, a score of 160 to 120.  Round Five has tremendous scoring potential and both teams did well, with Firelands quickly recouping its points deficit.   It is the only round in which teams can lose points with incorrect answers, but that happened only three times in over nine minutes of rapid-fire questions.  The lead changed hands several times but at the final bell Firelands was 20 points ahead.

Not only was this semifinal extraordinarily competitive, but the two teams had a record number of past winners of the program’s Standout Scholar award.  Five of the six participants were past honorees.  Firelands’ Durdak, the sole team member who did not win on one of this year’s programs, had won the honor once in 2017, and Firelands’ Martin is a four-time Standout winner over three of his high school years.  Elyria High School, though eliminated this year, has still won the most championships in the history of the program, five, the most recent in 2000.

A perennial playoff participant, Firelands hopes for a first Scholastic Games championship when the school faces Olmsted Falls High School next Tuesday.   Falls was the runner-up in last year’s Scholastic Games championship.    The broadcast is scheduled for 6:06 p.m.  Sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County with foundation support, it has been presented weekly, sometimes with rebroadcasts the following Friday.  The teams are guided by faculty advisors.  Mr. Jeremy Secaur is the advisor for Elyria and the Firelands advisor is Ms. Kelly Miller.

Continuing a 27-year tradition, each participating school will receive a $1000 tuition credit to be given to a deserving student that will attend an area college or university.  Additional such credits are awarded to schools when they compete and win in playoffs.  Contributing institutions include Lorain County Community, Baldwin Wallace University, Oberlin College, Ursuline College, Ashland University, Case Western Reserve, Heidelberg, John Carroll,  Notre Dame College of Ohio, and Tiffin University.  Many of these have participated in the program for a number of years.

Scholastic 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 Dr. Howard A. and Pearl L. Keiser Living Memorial, the Dorothy and Elizabeth King Memorial Charitable Fund, the Del Lumber Fund, the Ted Jacobs Fund, the Joanne Magirl Arnold Memorial Fund and the David and Marilyn Koethe 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 have been followed by a talk feature, “Dialogues in Education,” which presents education success stories with its host, award-winning journalist Bob Tayek.