An exciting third qualifying round of Scholarship Challenge, WATS/WAVR's annual high school quiz-style competition, led to a victory for four-time Kwasnoski Cup champions Elmira Free Academy Saturday.

The EFA team, including captain Mitchell Shaw, Joe Allen, Nathan Dupuis and Hannah Strong, defeated the Northeast Bradford High School team in Saturday's final match, 180 points to NEB's 90. EFA will join Wellsboro and Mountain View high schools and the winner of one last qualifier in the March 9 finals to win up to $3,000 for their school.

Following a close first round in the final match, EFA took the lead in the second and prevailed over the NEB team, which included captain Dakota Bellinger, Jason Shafer, Marilyce Young, Dylan Saxon and alternate Emily Goble.

The EFA team defeated first-time Scholarship Challenge competitors Whitney Point High School, traveling from Broome County, N.Y., 80 points to 30 in a low-scoring match, then easily defeated hometown favorites Sayre High School 170 points to zero to clinch a spot in the final round.

The Sayre team failed to move forward in Saturday's competition, but the Redskins - captain Sarah Ostroski, Lorenzo Servedio, Abby Noldy and Nick Skerpon - had a bevy of community support at the Patterson Auditorium on the Guthrie campus, a stone's throw from the school.

The group, which host Chuck Carver called "an enthusiastic crowd," included Sayre borough mayor Denny Thomas, high school principal Dayton Handrick and superintendent Dean Hosterman, as well as teachers, students and alumni.

The Northeast Bradford team, advised by Melissa Tewksbury, defeated two other Elmira schools to reach the final match, easily besting Southside High School 120 points to zero and winning 80-50 against Notre Dame High School in a tight second match.

Tewksbury said the team has a lot of fun and was eager to practice from the beginning of the school year. "They're very dedicated to it," she said.

Towanda, Athens, Wyalusing, Sullivan County, Groton and Montrose high schools will compete in the final qualifier, scheduled for March 2.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: